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DISCLAIMER:  The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe was created and authored by Christopher Michael Langan.  What follows is my interpretation of his theory.

The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU) is what is called a Theory of Everything(TOE).  In the typical, scientific TOE, objective reality and observation are treated with priority while subjective reality and cognition are relegated to an inferior position.  But a true theory of everything should explain both the concrete and the abstract.  The CTMU is the first TOE that explains the relationship between the observer and what is observed.  The CTMU is not merely a theory but is an extension of how logic is employed to build models and theories.  In this sense, the CTMU is meta-logical because it explains how we construct theories through our cognition in order to explain objective reality.

In the field of Formal Logic a tautology is a statement whose truth-value is indisputable.  It is of the type:

1) A=A


2) All bachelors are single.

Because, by definition, a bachelor is a single man, statement 2 is necessarily true.  It is typically thought that a tautology lacks new information.  This is true so long as the scope that a tautology references is sufficiently small.  If a tautology’s scope is large enough, new and useful information can be gleaned from a tautological statement.  Good examples of this are the dictionary and the field of algebra whose usefulness goes without saying.

The CTMU uses the truth-value of a tautology and stretches the scope to the ultimate limit at the outset by making the foundation of the theory a tautological statement about reality itself. This tautological statement is called the Reality Principle and it says:

The real universe contains all and only that which is real.

So where is the new information?  Well, for starters, this makes any attempt at a theory of reality that incorporates external causation a logical dead-end.  In other words, the only logically valid explanation of our reality says that there is nothing outside of reality that can affect reality.  If there were anything external to reality that could affect reality then it would automatically become real and thus, be a part of reality.

This logical condition has far reaching ramifications for cosmogenesis.  In essence, it means that we can avoid an infinite regress of prior cause by positing that reality self-created and this would be the only logical explanation for cosmogenesis.

The CTMU goes on to show that any self-contained system or theory about said system must obey certain containment principles.  Namely, a self-contained TOE must meet the requirements that the theory is closed, comprehensive, and consistent.

The closure principle of the CTMU is called the Metaphysical Autology Principle (MAP).  In essence, MAP says that anything relevant to reality is generated by reality.  It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about explanations, descriptions, compositions, objects, laws, or cognitive categories – they all are created from within reality.

The Mind Equals Reality Principle (M=R) of the CTMU addresses the comprehensivity of reality.  In the traditional view of reality, mind and matter are separated by what has come to be known as Cartesian Dualism.  Unfortunately, much of the split between science and philosophy has arisen because of many years of Cartesian Dualism.  But both the subjective, mental world and the objective, material world are contained within reality.  The M=R Principle simply shows that the two sides of Cartesian Dualism reduce to a unitary relational medium.  In this way, reality is comprehensive enough to be both the abstract and concrete manifestations that mankind has divided into a dual aspect reality.

The principle in the CTMU that addresses consistency is called the Multiplex Unity Principle(MU).  The syntax of reality is ultimately a unitary informational medium that generates the multiple configurations that we experience.  The reason that we can reduce reality to a common medium is because of the coherence of reality to itself.  Anywhere that reality encounters reality, it recognizes itself.  The syntax of reality unifies in a topological and descriptive coincident existence.  From the topological perspective, syntax becomes state; and from the descriptive perspective, state becomes syntax.

The fact that a unitary relational medium gives rise to the various dual-natured aspects of reality means information can flow in both directions – from simplicity to complexity, and from complexity to simplicity (just as the unitary syntax of reality seemingly gives rise to Cartesian Dualism).  This type of feature of reality is called syndiffeonesis, which means a sameness relation expressed through difference.  An example would be short and tall, which are differences that are reducible to the sameness relation of height.  Another term that the CTMU uses to express this relationship is called dual-aspect monism.

By reducing reality to a common, syntactical medium it becomes quite obvious that reality behaves much like a language.  But, any language we look to within reality to express this is really a sub-language of the language of reality.  So, in essence, reality can be treated like a meta-language whose atomic make-up is cognizable information.  The CTMU calls this infocognition.  This meta-language possesses infocognition that form relations through nomological (both physical and logical laws) functions.  Since we have already established that reality is self-created and self-contained we can now introduce the next idea in the CTMU:  reality is a Self-Configuring, Self-Processing Language (SCSPL).

Since reality is an SCSPL that creates itself, writes itself, and reads itself along with the laws that govern its processing, the universe operates through self-determinacy.  This leaves the standard concepts of determinacy and indeterminacy as logical dead-ends when constructing a TOE.  Self-determinacy has far reaching consequences when it comes to teleology (the study of design or purpose in natural phenomena) and meaning.  Basically, the structure and meaning of reality are self-determined as it evolves.

The self-determinacy of reality suggests a feedback mechanism because reality must determine a new state-syntax transition by referencing other syntactical states.  This feedback mechanism is the teleological component of reality and it is called Telic Recursion.  In order to completely understand Telic Recursion it is very important to have a basic understanding of the quantum world.  I will not go into an explanation of quantum physics here; but I will say that Telic Recursion describes the quantum world in terms of reality actualizing through a self-selection of a utility function from many possible future states.  This process is what is happening when the quantum wave function collapses into an actualized observation of state.

The evolution of reality through Telic Recursion is logical in the sense that any state of reality that is actualized must have been selected through a logical pathway.  This logical pathway of actualization is called binding of logical constraints in Formal Logic.  If we were to remove the logical constraints of the binding of logic – reverse the telic evolution of reality – we would remove the actualized logical constraints of reality until we finally arrived at a point where there is a complete lack of logical bindings in reality.  What we are left with after conducting this thought experiment is what the CTMU calls Unbound Telesis (UBT).  Since reality actualizes from potential future states, UBT is pure potential rather than mere nothingness.

In cosmology there is a theory that says the universe came into existence from nothingness.  This is called cosmogenesis ex nihilo.  The CTMU replaces the nothingness of this model with UBT.  When logical binding occurs through Telic Recursion, that which is actualized becomes real and that which doesn’t meet the logical requirement of self-actualization becomes unreal.

This utility function of reality is how reality teleologically self-configures.  Much of our understanding of the quantum world is counterintuitive when looked at from the standard theories and models that try and explain reality.  These paradoxes disappear in the CTMU and are easily explained in terms of a reality that is in the process of self-actualization.

Another problem that the standard models have explaining is the expanding universe.  Given the Reality Principle we cannot logically propose that our universe is expanding into anything that doesn’t already qualify as a part of reality.  If there is nothing outside reality, then reality doesn’t exist in space.  On the contrary, space exists within reality.  There can be no metric for reality to be embedded in so it is illogical to suggest that our universe is expanding in any absolute sense.  This doesn’t deny the fact that our universe appears to be expanding from our internal perspective; but it is more logical to say that we are contracting within the universe.

Now, it must also be understood that our universe, actualizing through telic feedback, suggests that reality operates in an iterative fashion.  The continuity that we experience in our macro-world breaks down once we get below the Planck Length.  Causality and the continuity of space no longer hold in the micro-world.  The evolution of reality is broken and each new iteration is an actualization, through the feedback mechanism of Telic Recursion, of previous iterations.

When the concepts of the previous two paragraphs are combined into the CTMU’s model of cosmology we get a model that explains the universe, not as expanding, but a universe wherein the objects are, relatively speaking, contracting.  Both judgments are correct as far as appearances go, but logic prevents reality from expanding into an absolute metric not already implicated in reality.  In CTMU terms this is called conspansion and it is fully explained in the Universe as Self-Representational Entity (USRE) model of cosmology.

Basically, the universe evolves through a discrete re-scaling factor whose rate is distributed homogeneously throughout.  It is in the realm of quantum physics where this behavior appears discrete.  At the macroscopic level our world appears smooth and continuous.

Stating that reality’s utility function is aimed at self-actualization means that this utility is a generalized feature of reality.  Reality possesses this utility at both a global level and also at local levels.  Global utility is heritable by the localized entities of reality and becomes their local utility.  Telic Recursion is not only understood as an interplay of actualization and potential, but is also an interplay between constraint and freedom.  This is because potential is a lack of constraint and is therefore, freedom.

Reality configures itself in such a way that we are localized agents who have inherited this utility of telic freedom.  By granting us this freedom we have the ability to choose to either create positive utility or to create negative utility for the system we call reality.  This is the CTMU version of freewill.  Reality confers freewill to its localized agents who are in a position to use their freewill for positive or negative utility.


The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe – A New Kind of Reality Theory, Christopher Michael Langan

Flash from Deep Space: Supernews on Supernovas, Christopher Michael Langan

Introduction to the CTMU, Christopher Michael Langan

On Absolute Truth and Knowledge, Christopher Michael Langan

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