Darwin's Rainbow: Evolutionary radiation and the spectrum of consciousness

Evolution is littered with paraphyletic convergences: many roads lead to functional Romes. We propose here another example - an equivalence class structure factoring the broad realm of possible realizations of the Baars Global Workspace consciousness model. The construction suggests many different physiological systems can support rapidly shifting, sometimes highly tunable, temporary assemblages of interacting unconscious cognitive modules. The discovery implies various animal taxa exhibiting behaviors we broadly recognize as conscious are, in fact, simply expressing different forms of the same underlying phenomenon. Mathematically, we find much slower, and even multiple simultaneous, versions of the basic structure can operate over very long timescales, a kind of paraconsciousness often ascribed to group phenomena. The variety of possibilities, a veritable rainbow, suggests minds today may be only a small surviving fraction of ancient evolutionary radiations - bush phylogenies of consciousness and paraconsciousness. Under this scenario, the resulting diversity was subsequently pruned by selection and chance extinction. Though few traces of the radiation may be found in the direct fossil record, exaptations and vestiges are scattered across the living mind. Humans, for instance, display an uncommonly profound synergism between individual consciousness and their embedding cultural heritages, enabling efficient Lamarkian adaptation
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