The Theory of Enformed Systems:
A Paradigm of Organization and Holistic Systems

Donald E. Watson
James Clerk Maxwell Project,
Human Energy Systems Laboratory,
University of Arizona

Gary E. R. Schwartz
Professor of Psychology, Neurology and Psychiatry,
Director, Human Energy Systems Laboratory,
University of Arizona

 Linda G. S. Russek
Co-Director, Human Energy Systems Laboratory,
University of Arizona


Scope of the Theory
Overview and Basic Concepts
Properties and Behaviors of SELFs
Symbolic Expressions of Enformy
Implications of TES
Summary and Conclusion


Consciousness cannot be understood in isolation of the wide range of other phenomena that share a common ontological root. Hence, a comprehensive theory of consciousness must explain, not only self-awareness, intention, sensation, perception, memory, cognition, learning, creativity, curiosity, and altered states, but life per se, quantum entanglement, telepathy, precognition, energy healing, the evolution of species, and the homing behavior of pigeons and other animals. A theory that describes this polymorphous set is founded on the concept that all of its elements are products of holistic systems. That is, a theory of consciousness is a general theory of organization and holistic systems. This paper describes the Theory of Enformed Systems (TES), a general theory of systems that explains all the elements of the set. Foundational to the theory is the fundamental, conserved, organizing principle, enformy--the capacity to organize--without which life and mentality would not be possible. The enformy posit and the Theory of Enformed Systems are essential elements for systemics, the science of holistic systems. Because systems are the objects of all scientific studies, systemics is the foundation of all scientific disciplines.
Time and space are modes by which we think, not conditions under which we live. - Albert Einstein
Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
I would caution the reader to adhere to a maxim once issued by Warren McCulloch: "Do not bite my finger; look where I am pointing." - Karl Pribram


This paper describes the Theory of Enformed Systems1 (TES), a hypothetico-deductive paradigm of holistic systems (Watson, 1997a, 1997b). As a general theory of systems, TES explains the origin, fundamental properties, and behaviors of holistic systems at all ontological levels. TES does not displace the current scientific paradigms; instead, it forms their foundation. Four statements place TES in the context of the current disciplines: (a) A general theory of systems is necessarily a theory of organization; (b) because TES is a general theory of organization, it belongs to systemics--the science of holistic systems; (c) because organization per se is fundamental to all observable phenomena, systemics is the most basic branch of science; and (d) because TES is foundational to the prevailing paradigms of science, it is outside the prevailing Weltanschauung; i.e., it cannot be understood or interpreted in terms of the prevailing paradigms.

The prevailing paradigms address systems that are already organized, whereas TES addresses organization per se--its origin, elaboration, and maintenance. Organization per se is traditionally assumed to be a necessary precondition for scientific study, and not itself a subject of study. For instance, the standard model of the cosmos holds that the universe consists of (a) matter, comprising fundamental particles such as quarks, electrons, photons, etc.; (b) the properties of these particles, including charge, polarization, spin, etc.; and (c) mass and energy--two fundamental, conserved principles2 that determine the behaviors of matter. The work of science has been to discover and describe patterns of these behaviors. In physics, this work entails applying the organization inherent in mathematics to map the organization inherent in matter. As a result, the worldview of mathematical physics is blind to organization per se because organization is intrinsic to mathematics.

Systemics radicalizes this. It allows scientists to turn their attention to the question, "What is the origin of organization per se?" This question points directly to topics that are invisible to prevailing paradigms, e.g., memory, self-awareness, telepathy, quantum entanglement, morphogenesis, and the evolution of species. We cannot discover the ontology of these phenomena by focusing on the phenomena themselves. Instead, we must broaden our view to focus on the origin, properties, and behaviors of the systems that are expressed by the phenomena. For example, the allegorical blind men focused on parts of an elephant, and each man produced an idiosyncratic, ad hoc model of the animal--e.g., a tree, a wall, a snake, a rope. Because elements of elephants do not exist independently of whole elephants, understanding the relationship among the parts requires comprehending the whole animal. Analogously, to understand consciousness, we must comprehend the whole system that expresses all the elements commonly identified as, or attributed to, consciousness.

TES is an ontological theory of systems that applies at all levels of complexity, ranging from the prephysical through the physical to the biological. In this paper, the term prephysical denotes ontologic levels that are fundamental to those of physical systems, where physical means those phenomena, processes, and objects described in terms of mass, energy, and matter. In addition, material indicates the aspect of physical systems which consists exclusively of matter (e.g., photons, electrons, protons, neutrons, etc.), and nonmaterial denotes aspects of physical systems which are not directly observed, but inferred from the behaviors of physical systems (e.g., mass, energy, force, and fields).

Ontologically, systems exist at hierarchical levels, and this hierarchy distinguishes and delimits the disciplines of science. Physics addresses the organization of physical systems of very low ontological levels, chemistry addresses physical systems that are organized from the levels studied in physics, and biology addresses physical systems organized from the levels of chemistry. By addressing the nature of prephysical systems, TES provides the ontological base for physics, chemistry, and biology.

TES also provides a paradigm for psychology and parapsychology. These disciplines do not address any particular type of system, yet as traditionally defined, they study the mental operations and behavior of high level biological systems. A broader view reveals that physical systems of very low levels, e.g., photons, also exhibit types of "mental" operations--i.e., adaptive operations on information--as evidenced by their behaviors and communications. We show in this paper that TES explains these phenomena because they are expressions of prephysical systems. By addressing these systems, TES directly explains the fundamental nature of a large group of seemingly disparate, "spiritual" phenomena for which the traditional paradigms provide no ontology, e.g., life per se, consciousness, quantum entanglement, and parapsychological phenomena.

In sum, TES is an extremely parsimonious, ontologically fundamental, conceptual model that not only implies a rich set of predictions for unexpected phenomena, but comprehends and explains a broad range of observed phenomena that are not explained by the prevailing paradigms. The parsimony and transdisciplinary applicability of this theory make it a strong candidate to provide the scientific paradigm for the next century.

Scope of the Theory

In developing a theory of consciousness, we must neither limit our view to phenomena that correspond to the prevailing paradigms, nor exclude phenomena to which the prevailing world-views are blind. Instead, a deep understanding of consciousness must originate in an entirely different perspective. In short, a theory that doesn't explain all of the following phenomena doesn't adequately explain any of them:
  • psychological experience, including self-awareness, intention, sensation, perception, cognition, memory, learning, curiosity, creativity, intelligence, intention, intuition, emotion, social bonding, collective unconscious, altered states, dissociation, multiple personalities, and lucid dreaming;
  • parapsychological and psychic phenomena, including precognition, telepathy, remote viewing, psychokinesis (micro-PK, bio-PK, retro-PK), medical intuition, energy healing, psychometry, synchronicity phenomena, apparitions, mediumship, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, evidence suggesting reincarnation; and
  • non-experiential, radically related phenomena, including life per se, the evolution of species, morphogenesis, "morphic resonance," quantum entanglement, "water memory", and the homing behavior of pigeons and other animals.
All these phenomena share a common root: They are products of the properties and behaviors of prephysical systems, the necessary condition for which is organization per se. TES describes these systems beginning with the fundamental postulate of organization: that organization per se originates with enformy, the universal, conserved organizing principle (Watson, 1993). Enformy is the capacity to organize; that is, enformy is to organization as energy is to work. At prephysical levels of organization, enformy is expressed as curiosity, mental creativity, life per se, and the evolution of species. At the quantum level, enformy allows the nonlocal interactions of entangled photons and atemporally organizes photons in slit experiments to behave as either particles or waves. At higher ontological levels, enformy imposes organization on otherwise random physical systems, e.g., electronic and radioactive random number generators and mechanical cascades (Jahn, et al, 1987). In short, enformy accounts for the organization inherent in all holistic systems, whether prephysical, physical, or biological.

The enformy posit obviates the need for "self-organizing" to explain of the origin of complex systems (Kauffman, 1995). Indeed, "self-organizing" is self-contradictory because it relies on self-reference. That is, if a self exists to organize itself, it is already organized. But if only elements of a self exist, no self exists to organize itself. To avoid this contradiction requires using concepts that are fundamental to the self and its elements--a requirement met by TES. Complex systems do not organize themselves. Enformy organizes them.

As the principle that creates organization, enformy opposes, not entropy, but the "disorganizing principle" that results in increased entropy. Hence, enformy is conserved in the same sense that the disorganizing principle is conserved: Both are expressed as constant, universal tendencies. Like energy and mass, enformy is not an object or a substance, but a theoretical quantity that is not directly observable. That is, we infer the existence of energy, mass, and enformy from their physical expressions. As energy and mass are the theoretical foundations of physics, enformy is the foundation of systemics. 

The Theory of Enformed Systems:
Overview and Basic Concepts

Deductively constructed from the enformy posit, TES is the general conceptual framework for the organization of holistic, coherent systems. This is TES in overview:
  • A holistic system is the sum of its parts plus a four-dimensional map of the relationships among these parts in space and time.
  • This map is a dynamic, active "organizing field" through which enformy organizes physical entities to correspond to the spatio-temporal nonrandomness inherent in the field.
  • The organizing field itself possesses certain fundamental properties that maintain its own integrity.
  • These properties, in turn, are expressed as the fundamental behaviors of all holistic systems:
  • (a) For individual photons, they are expressed as wave/particle duality.

    (b) For individual living systems, they are expressed as self-awareness, perception, cognition, memory, and motor activity.

  • The properties of the fields also allow them to cohere in spacetime, creating nonlocal, atemporal interactions among individual systems:
  • (a) For systems of photons, these interactions are expressed as quantum entanglement.

    (b) For systems of complex organisms, the interactions are expressed as telepathy, precognition, psychokinesis, and homing and migratory behaviors.

Because the concept of organization logically precedes, and is foundational to, the established concepts of information, energy, and matter, the concept of organization and its expressions cannot be explained in terms of information, energy, or matter. Hence, formally describing TES comprises several theory-specific concepts, and each of these concepts requires a unique term to label it. When Russek and Schwartz (1996) paraphrased Miller's (1978) definition of living systems as being "dynamic organizations of intelligent information expressed in energy and matter," they implied the operation of enformy in their use of the term dynamic organization. This dynamic organization is implicit in TES, which comprises the following theory-specific concepts and their associated terms:
  • Enformy originates and sustains the organization of coherent physical systems by creating enformation and imposing it on matter and energy/mass.
  • Enformation is nonrandomness--the essence of organization--in any particular frame of reference.
  • The terms enformation and information label two distinct concepts. Information is physical--the nonrandom patterns in physical systems--and enformation is prephysical--the nonrandomness inhered in these patterns. Hence, enformation is fundamental to information, and corresponds to the ontological level of particular physical systems. Expressions of enformation corresponding to three frames of reference are: (a) bits for simple systems such as photons; (b) negentropy for statistical ensembles; and (c) "thoughts" in complex organisms.
  • The qualifier enformed denotes the organizing process that is sustained by enformy.
  • An enformed system is any system that is organized as a whole by enformy--i.e., any holistic system.
  • Enformed systems can be: (a) material and physical (ordinary physical systems, whether biological or not); (b) nonmaterial and physical (dynamical energy systems, Schwartz and Russek, 1997b); or (c) prephysical (enformation fields in spacetime, e.g., quantum fields, telepathic fields).
  • An enformed physical system is the sum of its physical parts plus a four-dimensional map that specifies the relationships among those parts in spacetime.
  • This map is a prephysical enformation field that is sustained by enformy.
  • An enformation field is the domain of influence of enformy. Enformation fields are continuous in spacetime, but discontinuous in three-space. This discontinuity accounts for the nonlocality and atemporality characteristic of many observed behaviors of physical systems, e.g., quantum correlation and "nonlocal mind".
  • Enformation fields are identified by the term SELF3, the acronym for Singular Enformed Living Field. As the prephysical foundation for any enformed system, a SELF is the unique identity of that system. Because SELFs are sets that contain enformation, their contents comprise "memory," which is essential to all coherent systems. Although memory is inhered in enformed physical systems, such systems are not necessary to "store" information because the SELF's enformation pre-exists them. SELFs, for example, are the prephysical systems that underlie enformed energy systems (Schwartz and Russek, 1997b). These, in turn, create and sustain enformed material systems (e.g. Miller, 1978). SELFs are also denoted enformy systems to distinguish them from material systems and energy systems.

Properties and Behaviors of SELFs

SELFs possess two fundamental, complementary properties that determine their behaviors and attributes: conformability and coherency.

Conformability is a SELF's capacity to conform to enformation under the influence of enformy. It is essential to the integrity of SELFs as unique entities. Because a SELF's conformability defines its complexity, it also defines the complexity of the SELF's associated physical system. The complexity of a physical system can be realized or potential. For example, as a zygote, an organism's complexity is mainly potential, whereas as an adult, it becomes mainly realized.

Conformability is expressed in two prephysical behaviors that allow a SELF to interact with itself and maintain its integrity: state-conformance and self-conformance.

State-conformance is a SELF's conforming to its own subsets of enformation. State-conformance is rudimentary to human perception, cognition, and emotion. That is, a human SELF can report that it "senses," "thinks," and "feels" because it conforms to enformation inhered in the states of its associated enformed physical system--e.g., its brain. State-conformance is symmetric; brain states concomitantly conform to enformation contained in its associated SELF. State-conformance is also essential to quantum entanglement--e.g., polarization-correlated photons.
Self-conformance is a SELF's conforming to its subsets of enformation as "its own." Through self-conformance, a human SELF observes and reports that: (a) it exists as a unique, real entity; (b) it is distinct from its environment, and; (c) its associated physical system--its "body"--belongs to it. Hence, self-conformance is rudimentary to human self-awareness, and is essential to ontological theorizing.
Neither state-conformance nor self-conformance are exclusive to the SELFs of living systems, and neither entails what is commonly termed conscious knowledge. Hence, applying the concepts of state-conformance and self-conformance precludes the mistake of automatically thinking in terms of anthropomorphic awareness (or "consciousness"). Because self-conformance and state-conformance operate at many levels fundamental to the concepts denoted conscious and awareness, applying the terms state-conformance and self-conformance can avoid anthropocentric questions such as, "Are photons and plants conscious?" Because photons and plants are enformed systems, they self-conform and state-conform. Further, saying that a photon "knows" its own state of polarization means that a photon state-conforms and self-conforms to its own polarization state; it implies nothing anthropomorphic.

Conformancy is complemented by the second fundamental property of SELFs, coherency, which allows subsets of SELFs to cohere with one another in spacetime.

Cohering in spacetime accounts for nonlocal and atemporal interactions with other SELFs--e.g., telepathy, psychokinesis (PK), precognition, mediumship, NDEs (Figure 1). It also expresses enformy's tendency toward increasing complexity and enformation--as evident, for example, in the evolution of increasingly complex species.
Figure 1. Enformy coheres subsets of existing SELFs in spacetime. In this four-dimensional "Venn diagram," the vertical axis represents reversible time, and the horizontal plane represents three-space at a point in time. The three-dimensional SELFs are subsets of four-dimensional SELFs that are confined to three-space by their associated physical systems. They are discontinuous in three-space, but intersect with a SELF that is continuous in spacetime. This four-dimensional SELF is an enformation field that accounts for nonlocal and atemporal phenomena. Because subsets of SELFs are themselves SELFs, higher level SELFs inhering lower level SELFs corresponds to a four-dimensional translation of Koestler's "holarchy" (1967). (Figure due to Antonio Barchetti, personal communication, 1998.)

Cohering in spacetime creates new SELFs and allows existing SELFs to nonlocally and atemporally interact with other SELFs. Thus coherency is the property of SELFs that allows the "unbroken wholeness" of the cosmic interconnectedness characterized by Bohm (1980) as the "implicate order." Coherency is also the theoretical foundation of the "systemic memory" described by Schwartz and Russek (1997b).

Because enformy is essential to cohering, it is the theoretical equivalent of life itself. Thus TES is the general theoretical foundation for expressions of (a) life per se; (b) mental operations--e.g., memory, consciousness, parapsychological phenomena; and (c) biological correlates of mental operations, e.g., neurophysiological binding (Damasio, 1989) and the structures and processes Sheldrake (1995a) identifies as "species memory," "habits of nature," "formative causation," "morphic fields," and "morphic resonance."

The necessary complementarity between conformancy and coherency is illustrated by two statements: (a) Without the conformancy-sustained integrity of SELFs as unique entities, coherency would bind all SELFs into a single, cosmic SELF, eliminating the possibility of individual entities; and (b) without coherency, SELFs could not evolve, because new SELFs could not be created. 

Symbolic Expressions of Enformy

Because enformy is fundamental to the organization of all systems--including mathematics itself--its direct expressions cannot be expressed in mathematical forms. Instead, the behavior of fundamental enformy-dependent processes must be expressed metamathematically. That's because direct expressions of enformy occur at levels of organization that are lower than those expressed in organized mathematical structures and processes. For example, the equation, e = mc2, describes the relationship of energy and mass, and enformy is expressed in the form of the equation itself. This interpretation implies that enformy is fundamental to the relationship between mass and energy.

Consider metamathematically the notion that measurement collapses wavefunctions to create "real" (i.e., three-dimensional) particles from probabilities. The phrase "collapse of the wavefunction" is misleading because wavefunctions are abstract symbols; they do not collapse. But enformed systems can "collapse" (disenform), and the result of such "collapse" is either described by a wavefunction or not. Under TES, the "collapse" is the fundamental change in an enformed system that occurs with measurement. When a simple enformed system such as a photon yields enformation to a measuring instrument, it loses its associated enformation or a subset of it. This loss decoheres the photon from an object in spacetime to an object in three-space. Metamathematically, then, decoherence corresponds to a change in the type of mathematical form that describes the system--from the quantum statistics of spacetime to the classical statistics of three-space. 

Implications of TES

Implications of TES are based on the fundamental properties and behaviors of SELFs operating at many levels of organization. Three aspects of TES imply (i.e., predict) three corresponding categories of observed phenomena. Identifying these aspects does not imply that they operate independently of one another. In all categories, enformy organizes SELFs in spacetime to produce the behaviors of SELFs and their associated physical systems.

Aspect 1: Subsets of SELFs cohere in spacetime.

Cohering in spacetime allows elemental SELFs to state-conform to the enformation field common to all of them, thereby organizing them to determine the behaviors of their associated physical systems.

Quantum entanglement exemplifies this category of predictions. The reality of the "EPR" phenomenon (Einstein, et al, 1935) was demonstrated in experiments by Alain Aspect, et al (1982). Pairs of polarization-correlated photons traveling in opposite directions maintain their correlation even when an orientation is experimentally imposed on one of them. This appears paradoxical if it is assumed that information travels between the photons. That is, because information is physical, superluminal communication would be impossible under relativity.

Under TES, however, information does not travel between the photons. The coherent two-photon system is associated with a prephysical enformy system in spacetime: Enformy entangles the photons' states by cohering their SELFs to create a new SELF (the two-photon system), and the SELF of each photon concomitantly state-conforms to enformation inhered in this greater field. In this frame of reference, enformation (nonrandomness) is expressed as conserved correlation in binary form: 1 if correlation is conserved, 0 if not. That is, if the correlation were not conserved, the relationship between the photons' polarizations would be random. Because this system's enformation field is neither time- nor space-variant, the conformation is atemporal and nonlocal--and the notion of superluminal communication is not necessary.

The homing behavior of pigeons and other animals (Sheldrake, 1995b) illustrates an expression of coherency in living systems. Under TES, enformy coheres a subset of the SELF of an animal with SELFs of their homes--which comprise the SELFs of other animals, associated humans, geographic location, etc. The resulting SELF provides the animal's SELFs with a constant, four-dimensional "sense" of direction. In the simplest possible model, this "sense" is binary: At any point in its journey, the animal state-conforms to whether it is traveling (1) toward home or (0) not toward home.

This aspect of the theory also explains the implicate order (Bohm, 1980), precognitive remote viewing (Targ, 1996), telepathy (Bem and Honorton, 1994), "water memory" (Schiff, 1995), "psychic" healing (Dossey, 1993), external Qi Gong (Khronos, et al, 1996; Yount, 1997), and three types of psychokinesis: micro-PK (Jahn, et al, 1987), retro-PK (Schmidt, 1976), and bio-PK (Braud and Schlitz, 1991). In each of these phenomena, elemental SELFs conform to the enformation shared by all of the SELFs cohered in spacetime. That is, enformy nonlocally and atemporally organizes individual behaviors and attributes to correspond to shared enformation.

Aspect 2: The existence of SELFs is independent of the physical systems they can enform.

Because SELFs exist in spacetime, whereas physical systems are confined to three-space, the observable behaviors of SELFs depend on their influences in organizing physical systems in ways that alter their behavior in spacetime. That expressions of SELFs can be observed only partially by the senses limits, but does not negate, the value of the empirical method in studying them. Implications of this aspect of the theory include near-death experiences (NDEs), out-of-body experiences (OBEs), apparitions, mediumship, and "reincarnation." More commonplace phenomena are exemplified by the SELF controlling its own brain (Eccles, 1994).

Under TES, NDEs (Moody, 1988; Schroeter-Kunhardt, 1993) occur when enformy inherent in the near-dead person's SELF coheres subsets of that SELF with SELFs remote in time and space from the person's physical system. The SELF state-conforms to enformation inhered in this coherent field, and thereby obtains a sequence of perceptions (typically an OBE, tunnel, light, life review, loved ones), then re-enforms the physical system. If re-enforming does not occur, the physical system (body) irreversibly loses its associated SELF and enformy; it dies. Certain neurophysiological states might correspond to several of the NDE perceptions, but not to all of them--for example, OBEs with verifiable perceptions of remote objects and events (Swann, 1975; McMoneagle, 1997).

Several extensive studies have developed data that support the "reincarnation" hypothesis (Stevenson, 1987, 1993, 1997). Under TES, subsets of SELFs of persons who die subsequently contribute to realizing the potential complexity of the physical systems of new individuals. By partially enforming new physical systems, these subsets contribute to aspects of the new person's psychogenesis and morphogenesis that are not determined by DNA. They (a) impose specific "memories" on the systems; (b) express somatic enformation in them; and (c) cohere with subsets of enformation inherent in the new physical system (e.g., inherited mental traits and other characteristics). The products of these events are partially observable by humans because the newly expressed SELFs can (a) self-report memories of previous lives and objectively display corresponding temperaments (Stevenson, 1987); (b) display birthmarks on their associated physical systems resembling the cause of the prior death (Stevenson, 1993, 1997); and of course, (c) develop new memories--i.e., gain subsets of enformation--from their own DNA and ongoing life experiences.

Under TES, reincarnation is partial because it entails subsets of the SELF's enformation sequentially mapping two or more physical systems. Hence, the type of "reincarnation" predicted by TES generalizes beyond the traditional model. For example, TES predicts that partial "reincarnation" occurs in organ transplantation: Subsets of the SELF of a heart donor subsequently partially enforms the physical system of a recipient's SELF, creating new "memories," preferences, or temperament traits (Pearsall, 1998; Sylvia, 1997). Moreover, death of the donor is not necessary for this to occur. TES predicts the same process occurs with transplanted kidneys and livers from still-living donors. It also occurs with non-living objects that provide enformation to persons talented in psychometry.

Under TES, apparitions manifest the behaviors of strictly prephysical SELFs--i.e., SELFs not associated with physical systems. These phenomena include local recurrent apparitions (Broughton, 1992; Holzer, 1994) and sentient apparitions that adaptably communicate with humans (Stevenson, 1995; Guggenheim and Guggenheim, 1996). The stereotyped behaviors and consistent images of local recurrent apparitions are evidence that SELFs can fragment into independent subsets, thereby conforming them to limited sets of enformation. In contrast, the interactive behaviors of sentient apparitions indicate that SELFs can also remain largely intact. These apparitions typically appear immediately following the death of their associated physical systems, and seem motivated to communicate with specific living individuals. Such appearances are evidently not limited by time or space: They can appear at great distances from the site of the death, perhaps instantaneously. Such SELFs produce observable manifestations by organizing three-dimensional matter and electromagnetic radiation, including that in the range of visible light. Therefore such apparitions are primarily expressions of enformy, and secondarily, of energy. TES also implies observable apparitions of living persons while they experience OBEs (Schroeter-Kunhardt, 1993).

Mediumship is consistent with this aspect of TES, occurring when a subset of a strictly prephysical SELF (i.e., a surviving SELF) coheres with a subset of the SELF of a living human (the "medium"). Mediumship has been studied extensively. For example, over a 50 year period, the British and American Societies for Psychical Research conducted controlled studies with Gladys Osborne Leonard (Smith, 1964). Mrs. Leonard consistently produced accurate, verified information, some of which was precognitive. Mediumship can provide evidence of survival of SELFs, yet it is important to control for telepathy by the medium. One such experiment entailed "book tests:" obtaining information from particular pages of specific books via Mrs. Leonard, even though the books chosen were not known to her or to any other living person prior to the experiments.

The book tests are consistent with the hypothesis that surviving prephysical SELFs can not only perceive and communicate, but learn, analyze, make decisions, and participate creatively in experiments. These and other psychological and behavioral characteristics of SELFs are critical to distinguishing sources of information available to mediums. For example, aside from the possibility of fraud, two alternative hypotheses are usually advanced to account for the information: (a) mediums obtain information from their environments via putative "super-psi" (Braude, 1992); or (b) mediums converse and interact with surviving SELFs. Under TES, these are not two distinct hypotheses. Both mediumship and psi (e.g., telepathy, remote viewing, precognition) operate through the same process--subsets of SELFs cohering in spacetime. This obviates, not only the need for the prefix in the term super-psi, but the need to distinguish between the survival hypothesis or psi. The relevant question is whether or not psi operates between mediums and unique, identifiable, psychologically-active, strictly prephysical SELFs. It is noteworthy that the problem of identifying such SELFs--the "problem of other minds"--is the same whether or not those SELFs are associated with enformed physical systems--i.e., living bodies.

Because TES predicts that strictly prephysical SELFs exhibit atemporality and nonlocality in addition to curiosity, creativity, perception, memory, social bonding, etc., it is rich in testable predictions that can guide future scientific exploration concerning the question of survival of SELFs (Schwartz, et al, 1998). For example, it predicts that surviving SELFs are motivated to find ways to demonstrate their own existence with or without human mediumship. It has been reported that surviving SELFs have interacted with physical instruments such as telephones, computer disks, and video monitors (Kubis and Macy, 1995). Because TES is not limited to organizing the structures and behaviors of biological systems, it directly predicts such interactions. That is, it implies "mind-machine" or "mind-matter" interactions (Jahn et al, 1987; Matzke, 1996; Radin, 1997), whether or not those "minds" are associated with physical bodies.

Aspect 3: Human SELFs can report the products of their state-conformance and self-conformance to other humans.

Under this aspect of the theory, human SELFs can provide data concerning their physical and psychic environments--whether ordinary or extraordinary--that cannot be obtained in any other way. For example, Ingo Swann (1975) wrote these impressions of his extraordinary remote viewing and psychokinetic experiences:

I feel it possible to suggest that human consciousness is not imprisoned in the human body, but capable of becoming coincident in two or possibly more places at any given time. . . . Consciousness, the thinking entity, the one that uses mind, is not dependent solely upon the physical body. That entity, you, is capable of extending its view of the universe, at least through hunches, intuition, creative insights, and even well-formed psychic transcendence wherein the barriers of matter, energy, space, and time are barriers no longer.
Swann's impressions can be interpreted under TES: (a) a SELF ("human consciousness") is the prephysical, self-aware entity that "uses" subsets of enformation associated with it ("mind"); (b) because it is atemporal, nonlocal, and independent of its associated physical system, a SELF can be "coincident in two or possibly more places at any given time;" and (c) a SELF can cohere with other SELFs in spacetime, thereby "extending its view of the universe."

In ordinary human experience, human SELFs behave concordantly with their conforming to states of their associated physical systems and verbally report the products of their own state-conformance and self-conformance. Hence, SELFs provide data that can be applied to develop a TES-based, fundamental theory of human mentality and behavior. Implications of TES include the rudiments of normal human mentality, as well as unusual expressions of mentality such as multiple personality disorder. Moreover, because TES applies to all SELFs, its scope is not limited to humans. For example, it applies to the gorilla, Koko (Patterson and Linden, 1981), because she communicates with humans, via sign language, symbolically in the first person.

The rudiments of human SELF mentality and behavior include:

  • Curiosity: the tendency of enformy to increase complexity. Thus curiosity is a direct expression of enformy realizing the potential complexity of a SELF.
  • Memory: enformation fields belonging to SELFs, which are prephysical systems to which physical systems--e.g., ensembles of neurons--conform.
  • Perception: SELFs state-conforming to enformation inherent in the sensory apparatus and other systems of the physical system, as well as enformation from extrasensory sources (e.g., telepathy, remote viewing).
  • Cognition, intuition, creativity, and imagination: a continuous maelstrom of state-conformations among subsets of the SELF, which create, reinforce, and annihilate one another. This maelstrom is traditionally denoted the "unconscious mind."
  • "Conscious" thought: high-order constructions (synecdoches4) of these rudimentary conformations and counter-conformations--e.g., visual and verbal symbols.
  • Social bonding, collective unconscious: enformy cohering subsets of enformation of two or more SELFs.
  • Emotion: the SELF's conforming to the general state of organization of its associated physical system. That is, fear, anger, and sadness accompany decreasing organization, and joy accompanies increasing organization. Emotion differs from cognition, which conforms to specific states.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly identified as Multiple Personality Disorder, is an experiment in nature that represents an extreme form of "altered states of consciousness." Clinically, DID is characterized as two or more "alters" (alternative personalities) recurrently taking control of an individual's behavior (Putnam, 1989). Subjectively, each alter identifies itself as a whole, unique individual with its own sex, name, set of memories, and perspective on historical events. In clinical settings, alters can often be summoned simply by calling their names.

By objective observation, each alter displays its own habits, gestures, temperament, handwriting, vocabulary, speech patterns, tone of voice, and character traits. Instrumentally recorded features of alters include differences in galvanic skin response, evoked cortical potentials, oculomotor variations, and muscle tension and brain activity as detected by electroencephalography (Putnam, 1984). Alters also differ among themselves in pain threshold, visual acuity, sensitivity to allergens, and responsiveness of blood sugar levels to insulin (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

Superficially, alters appear whole and radically distinct; i.e., each appears to completely determine the person's mentality and behavior. However, closer observation reveals that they are neither whole nor distinct: (a) alters may or may not be aware of the existence of the others; (b) at least one alter is aware of all the others--including their individual histories and memories; (c) alters are often amnestic to periods of time when they are not in control; (d) at least one alter constantly monitors the environment, and selects which alter controls the physical system's behavior; and (e) the psychotherapeutic process can join the alters, which could not occur if the alters were radically distinct.

These findings are readily explained by TES. DID expresses the qualities of a single SELF--the "fundamental SELF"--that is associated with a physical system. Each alter is a coherent subset of enformation that expresses "sub-SELF." Sub-SELFs comprise elements of three types of memory: semantic (language), episodic (historical events), and procedural (behavioral and psychological habits) (Schacter, 1996). The sub-SELFs of persons with DID are disjoint at high and middle levels of organization--i.e., they do not share high and middle level ("conscious" and "preconscious") subsets of enformation with one another. Yet all sub-SELFs cohere at the low level ("unconscious") of the fundamental SELF. Each sub-SELF, while in control, enforms the physical system to produce its distinctive high and middle level behavior patterns, physiological states, and self-reported subjective states--its so-called "personality."

In general, dissociation and other altered states of consciousness reflect a hierarchy of parallel sub-SELFs, each of which can control their associated physical systems. Sub-SELFs that are disjoint only at the highest levels of organization conform the physical system in everyday role-playing and professional acting. Between the extremes of DID and everyday behaviors, sub-SELFs that temporarily become disjoint at high and mid levels produce the behaviors and experiences exhibited in fugue states, transient amnesia, hypnotic states, transcendental meditation, alcohol-induced blackouts, and the flashbacks typical of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

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The contemporary study of consciousness demonstrates the accuracy of the observation of linguist, Benjamin Whorf (1956) that "science has reached, without having intended to, a frontier. . . . The frontier was foreseen in principle very long ago, and given a name that has descended to our day clouded with myth. That name is Babel." Evidence that consciousness studies have reached Babel is found in the absence of a consistent definition of consciousness itself, even within specific academic disciplines. Indeed, investigators don't even agree on whether consciousness is an entity, state, process, phenomenon, or epiphenomenon.The linguistic problems that characterize consciousness studies reflect that no traditional scientific discipline is broad enough or deep enough to account for all the phenomena currently identified as consciousness, much less those phenomena such as life itself, quantum entanglement, and parapsychological phenomena that are radically-related to consciousness. While the majority of investigators of consciousness limit the meaning of consciousness to comply with the boundaries of the various prevailing paradigms, others realize that science itself must be expanded to accommodate consciousness. For example, noting that psychic phenomena, like quantum measurements, entail observer effects and nonlocality, Utts and Josephson (1996) propose that an ultimate theory of nature must describe data reflecting a subquantum domain. Penrose (1996) contends that a theory of consciousness will require "radical upheaval in the very basis of physical theory." We suggest that TES provides this basis by describing the properties and behaviors of processes in the prephysical ("subquantum") domain. Moreover, we anticipate that understanding these prephysical processes will require developing a new scientific language.

Popper (1980) described the empirical sciences as a system of testable theories, where a theory is a universal statement; hence, the sciences are a system of statements. Characterizing theories as statements illuminates two critical issues: Theories are public expressions of private concepts, and the correspondence of these expressions to their underlying concepts depends on the suitability of the language supporting the statements. It is therefore heuristic to realize that TES--indeed any theory--begins as a system of concepts, not a system of statements.

Because TES is a system of concepts, metalinguistic analysis is necessary to discern the meaning of its theory-specific terms. Words are inherently ambiguous because they are organized at high levels of complexity, but founded on concepts that are very deep. Hence, focusing on the words--the jargon of TES--misses the concepts labeled by those terms. As Whorf noted, "What we call `scientific thought' is a specialization of the western Indo-European type of language, which has developed . . . a set of different dialects. THESE DIALECTS ARE NOW BECOMING MUTUALLY UNINTELLIGIBLE. The term 'space,' for instance, does not and CANNOT mean the same thing to a psychologist as to a physicist." Illustrating such a disparity of meaning, SELFs have been mistakenly equated to Plato's Ideas. The foundation of Plato's terminology did not incorporate the concepts of fields, nonlocality, atemporality, the spacetime continuum, or energy as the conserved capacity to perform work. Therefore, his terminology could not correspond to the concept of SELF, which inheres enformation fields, a conserved organizing principle, and nonlocality in three-space as a function of a continuous field in spacetime.

TES is highly parsimonious because it describes the prephysical phenomena expressed by all systems, e.g., self-awareness, life itself, telepathy, precognition, and quantum entanglement. This economy of explanation makes TES potentially a widely useful theory. To achieve its maximum predictive and explanatory potential, however, TES must be expressed in terms that are appropriate to the phenomena under study. For instance, the statement that enformation is "nonrandomness in any particular frame of reference" means that expressions of enformation are different for physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and parapsychology. Because the various types of enformation are qualitatively different from one another, their expressions comprise a hierarchy of languages that correspond to the complexity of the systems studied in each academic discipline. Thus, whereas mathematics is suitable for the analyzing the least complex systems, linguistics is appropriate for more complex systems. In general, to provide us valid conceptualizations of the cosmos, the structure of scientific languages must be isomorphic with reality at all ontological levels. Further, because the levels of abstraction that describe prephysical events must correspond to prephysical levels of existence, the concepts of TES are necessarily more abstract than those of physics.

The structure of the English language is a serious impediment to describing TES at its roots. The language presupposes the primacy of entities (nouns) that perform actions or undergo processes (verbs). In contrast, TES specifies that the process of enforming creates entities (SELFs). Not all languages are limited as is English. As Alford (1996) points out, Native Americans can use their languages to "speak all day long and not utter a single noun." Verb based, Native American languages are suited to talking about--indeed, thinking about--processes rather than things. Thus, following Alford's analysis, understanding the spiritual aspects of systemics requires developing a new scientific language that precludes the ambiguous, often self-contradictory meanings of conventional scientific terminology.

In this light, consider the problem of describing concepts that pertain to organization per se. Each language, mathematical or linguistic, reflects a certain type of organization, but this organization does not necessarily correspond to the organization of the cosmos. For instance, under the calculus invented by Newton to analytically describe mechanics, time is reversible in three-space. Moreover, although Newton's calculus can analytically describe the gravitational interaction of two bodies, it cannot describe the interactions of three bodies.

Now consider a highly abstract concept of TES: A holistic system is the sum of its physical elements plus a four-dimensional map--a SELF--that specifies the relationships among those elements in space and time. The acronym SELF is used because it derives from four characteristics of the map. A SELF is (a) singular, i.e., unique; (b) enformed, i.e., organized as a whole by enformy; (c) living, i.e., self-aware, state-aware, and capable of cohering with other SELFs in spacetime; and (d) a field, i.e., its field of influence is continuous in spacetime. Thus the acronym embodies the processes that define the entity. Note also that a SELF is a set that contains enformation at many levels of complexity; it is not the enformation itself. That is, a SELF is a container, not its contents.

The following terms illustrate further why the language of TES must be theory-specific to avoid confusing its concepts with familiar ones.

  • Enformy points to the concept of the universal creative principle. Although enformy is a noun, it does not refer to an entity or substance. Instead, as the term energy identifies the quantity of workability, enformy identifies the quantity of organizability.
  • Enforming is the process of organizing prephysical (spiritual) holistic systems in spacetime; it is the process (verb) that creates entities (nouns).
  • Enformed physical system expresses the concept of a SELF specifying the relationships among all of its physical elements. Thus this concept corresponds to the nature of a living body, as opposed to a dead one.
  • State-conformance and self-conformance inhere the concepts of an enformed system maintaining its own integrity. Self-conformance is rudimentary to human self-awareness.
  • Coherency connotes the notion of SELFs interconnecting in spacetime, thereby creating new SELFs. Hence coherency is complementary to the integrity-maintaining processes of conformancy.
In sum, the scientific study of organization per se brings us to a frontier. To cross this frontier, we must follow the advice of Alford (1996): "When the phenomena being studied are of such characteristics that the language you are using no longer describes the phenomena effectively--change the language!" As we anticipate the development of systemics and TES, this will be the major work of science for the next century.

Summary and Conclusion

The enformy posit and its derivative Theory of Enformed Systems constitute a comprehensive, transdisciplinary theory of consciousness because they explain, not only the phenomena conventionally attributed to consciousness, but a host of other phenomena that are radically related to these. The enformy posit and TES are summarized in the following statements:
  • Enformy is the universal organizing principle--the fundamental, conserved capacity to organize. Enformy is to organization as energy is to work.
  • The Theory of Enformed Systems, a general theory of systems, applies to all holistic systems, living or nonliving, material or nonmaterial. These systems are generically identified as enformed systems.
  • Enformy sustains the organization of four-dimensional enformation fields, where enformation denotes nonrandomness in any particular frame of reference.
  • Enformy organizes energy and elements of matter into coherent systems by mapping them to enformation fields. Coherent, holistic, physical systems are identified as enformed physical systems.
  • An enformation field in spacetime is denoted SELF.
  • SELFs possess two fundamental, complementary properties, conformability and coherency, that ultimately account for the subjective elements of consciousness as well as objective interactions with other SELFs.
  • Conformability and coherency are expressed in three fundamental behaviors of SELFs--state-conformance, self-conformance, and cohering in spacetime.
  • State-conformance and self-conformance are expressed as the subjective elements of consciousness: Self-conformance is expressed as self-awareness, and state-conformance is expressed as perception, cognition, and other mental operations and attributes.
  • Cohering in spacetime is expressed as interactions among SELFs via quantum correlation, telepathy, mediumship, PK, precognition, NDEs, and homing behaviors.
As the creative principle, enformy organizes and sustains holistic systems at all levels of complexity. Hence, systemics--the study of holistic systems--is the most fundamental branch of science. Systemics provides unifying concepts that underpin all we can know about the operations of the cosmos--not only the mental operations of humans, but the behaviors of classical and quantum objects. Moreover, because SELFs are the organizing fields that are fundamental, not only to quantum fields, but to fields sustained by energy and mass, TES provides the foundation for a unified field theory.Under TES, human life and mentality could not exist without enformy. Yet limiting ourselves to the anthropocentric perspective precludes contemplating the broader implications of the theory. For example, expressed as the tendency to increasing complexity, enformy is the basis of life itself. This implies that enformy compels organisms to occur and evolve in whatever forms the physical environment allows. Hence, intelligent life on our planet did not occur as an unlikely accident, nor does it occur accidentally elsewhere in the universe (Schwartz and Russek, 1997a, b). Further, because all enformed systems originate at the ontologic level of SELFs, the traditional distinction between "living" and "nonliving" must be reexamined. In this deep sense, systemics points the way to a comprehensive scientific paradigm where consciousness is a fundamental feature of science (Chalmers, 1995).

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  1. In earlier descriptions of this theory, the term enformed gestalt was used interchangeably with enformed system. The term gestalt has been dropped.
  2. Principle: origin, source; source of action. In generalized sense: A fundamental source from which something proceeds; a primary element, force, or law which produces or determines particular results; the ultimate basis upon which the existence of something depends; cause, in the widest sense (OED).
  3. In previous papers, SELF was denoted ipseon (self-entity); from Latin, ipse: he himself, self, the only one that exists (OED).
  4. Synecdoche: a figure by which a more comprehensive term is used for a less comprehensive or vice versa; as whole for part or part for whole, genus for species or species for genus, etc. (OED).

The Noetic Journal 2(2), 159-172 April, 1999

The Last Miracle
A new book by Donald E. Watson
424 pages. Writers Club Press/ ISBN: 0-595-09697-2

 What is consciousness? How do new ideas come into consciousness? And do humans exhibit the highest consciousness in the universe?

These questions had concerned Paul Salinger only tangentially. He'd retired early from his psychiatric career, planning to find ways humankind could survive its own self-destructive impulses. Then Mariner, a vastly superhuman being, materialized to Paul and explained that he, too, wanted humanity to survive and evolve-- although his motives would never become clear. After Mariner promised to reveal the basics of, not only his own existence, but consciousness and life itself, Paul impulsively gave up his previous plans to follow his mysterious mentor.

Under Mariner's guidance and prodding, Paul eventually discovered the concept of enformy, the basis of spirit and the principle of creation. To reward him, Mariner reunited him with his partner--his soul mate, Lori, whom he had lost years before. Thrilled by their reunion and their new knowledge, the soul mates eagerly set out on an adventure of learning, especially how to use enformy-based technologies--the most powerful tools humans had ever known. After assuring themselves they could heal terrible illnesses with their minds alone, they naively went public, sharing their new discoveries to Paul's medical colleagues at a scientific meeting.

Because their minds were so focused on exciting new ideas and technologies, they didn't foresee the havoc their contributions would create. They blindly triggered a scientific and social revolution that would be violently counterattacked by every social institution that was threatened by it. That meant EVERY major human institution--legal, academic, religious, political, journalistic, and economic.

Whether you're interested in healing, humanity, psychology, consciousness, politics, religion, evolution, or the new science of spirit, you'll relish following Paul and Lori through their adventures in The Last Miracle.

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About Enformy

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