Is Consciousness Primary Rather Than Emergent?

On the limitations of Physicalism in understanding consciousness

Kevin Ann
6 min readJan 13, 2022


I do not want to die.

I REALLY do not want to die because I am terrified of the void and the nothingness that I would confront.

It is from this desire not to die and the terror of death that the idea of Mind Uploading for eternal life is so compelling to me and has become an obsession. This fear of death, mind uploading, and eternal life conceptualized in Transhumanism, Extropianism, Singularitarianism, and the other “-isms” are really not anything new, but the basic human need to search for meaning and to live in terms through the lens of modern secular ideas, which are effectively rebranded ancient religious concepts.

So I do all I can to live a healthy lifestyle including: running 2 hours every other day, weight lifting, maintaining a ketogenic diet, and even intermittent and long-term fasting in the hopes that I buy myself time for new biotech interventions to arrive, that buys me time for more advanced biotech interventions to arrive, and so on, so that eventually the technology arrives that permit outright Mind Uploading where I can live forever.

However, when I think of what Mind Uploading actually is, it begs the question of what is this “experience” of consciousness I feel?

This subjective feeling of consciousness is the only real thing I can be sure of, but at the same time, it is difficult or even impossible to define or describe what it feels like to be conscious.

What is Subjective Consciousness, aka: Qualia?

My first inclination is to view the world in terms of Physics, since I was formally trained in the subject. This is intuitive and makes much sense to me that my “entire” world view is captured under the broad philosophical position of “Physicalism” where everything in the universe can ultimately be explained by Physics. No supernatural entities or metaphysical ideas needed. Everything that exists, has existed, and will exist can be understood in terms of the physical world, governed by physical laws obtained from empirical Science.



Kevin Ann

AI/full-stack software engineer | trader/investor/entrepreneur | physics phd