In some earlier posts I looked at James E. Beichler's single (operational) field theory, or SOFT, as presented in his book To Die For. The theory is interesting and provocative, but I've come to agree with some of this blog's commenters that as a Theory of Everything it falls short.
As was pointed out to me by dmduncan and Zetetic Chick (and perhaps others - I haven't gone back to check), SOFT really does not account for the basic fact of awareness, i.e., of subjectivity itself. Even if Beichler is right in saying that consciousness is a fifth-dimensional offshoot of our four-dimensional nervous system, this still doesn't explain how it is that consciousness is, well, conscious. The existence of a physical structure, whether in a 4D world or in a 5D world, does not lead obviously and ineluctably to a state of awareness. The "hard problem" of neuroscience remains unsolved.
Another reason for thinking that SOFT falls short as a TOE is that, as far as I can determine, it does not account for the astounding chain of "cosmic coincidences" that appear to have been necessary to produce a stable, orderly, complex, and habitable universe. According to SOFT, mind appears on the scene only after the universe is set up and life has evolved. But I think the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmos strongly suggests that mind was present from the beginning.
Although Beichler briefly discusses the origin of life, I don't think SOFT really accounts for this phenomenon either. In fact, it seems to me that Beichler's views on this particular issue are somewhat out of date. He seems to think that the origin of life is a fairly straightforward development that can be easily explained by random chemical interactions, and that life will emerge spontaneously whenever some basic conditions are met. This view was pretty standard for a few decades after the much-publicized Miller-Urey experiment, but has lately come under attack as the phenomenal complexity of even the "simplest" one-celled organism has become apparent. Miller-Urey showed that certain amino acids can form by chance (although even then, it is debatable whether the experiment accurately reproduced the atmospheric conditions of the primordial Earth), but it is a long way from a few amino acids to a living cell. Unless mind is involved in this process from the beginning, I'm skeptical that life can even come about. A million monkeys batting away at a million typewriters for a million years are not going to type out the code for even the simplest DNA molecule. Chance doesn't get the job done, even when given a lot of time to work wiith. Some kind of conscious intention - a mind - is required. Yet SOFT insists that mind is out of the picture until after fairly advanced life forms have emerged. (Robert Shapiro's Origins provides a good overview of the problems encountered by all the attempts to explain the origin of life, as does the concluding chapter of Franklin M. Harold's The Way of the Cell.)
Then there is the issue of the meaning and purpose of life. Beichler has a chapter titled "A Universe of Purpose," in which he tries to make the case that SOFT provides the basis for an ethical system. Essentially, he argues that the purpose of the universe is to become aware of itself, and therefore anything that furthers this aim is morally good, while anything that frustrates this aim is morally bad. But there are many possible objections to this view. For one thing, the SOFT universe came into being without the benefit of mind or consciousness; mind is a rather late arrival on the scene. How, then, can we say that the universe had a purpose from the start, when there was no plan or intention for the first ten billion years (or more)? Beichler seems to hold that the purpose of the universe should be understood mechanically, rather than in terms of conscious intent. But then SOFT's "universe of purpose" becomes a basically mechanical construct in which the purpose consists of carrying out a chain of events initiated by accident - rather like a row of dominos falling, if the dominos had been arranged by chance and if the first domino had been blown over by the wind. This seems like a rather sorry "purpose" to me.
I also have my doubts that SOFT can support any particular moral code. For instance, Beichler says that murder is a crime against the universe because, by murdering someone, you eliminate his unique perspective, which is part of the universe's ongoing attempt to know itself. Couldn't one just as readily argue that murder is sometimes required by the universe, in order to eliminate those individuals whose perspective is faulty and is liable to lead others astray? Or couldn't one argue that murder is value-neutral, since the act of murder allows the universe to experience what it feels like to take a life, which is part of the cosmic quest for self-knowledge? Actually I think Beichler falls victim to the is-ought problem; in trying to determine what ought to be true, he inadvertently smuggles in his own moral preconceptions ("murder is bad") and then rationalizes them. That's not to say that his moral values aren't appropriate - only that SOFT does not provide a real rationale for them.
Despite these objections, I think SOFT may still have considerable value, not as a Theory of Everything, but as a framework in which to look at psi and afterlife phenomena from a physicalist perspective. The idea of a fifth-dimensional consciousness may be quite helpful in explaining phenomena like remote viewing and out-of-body experiences. To say that consciousness has a physical aspect or component is not necessarily wrong or problematic; what is problematic is claiming that this physicalist explanation solves the mystery of consciousness (subjective awareness) as such. In other words, consciousness may be partly physical without being wholly physical; and the physical aspect of consciousness may very well involve a higher-dimensional domain.
The universe may indeed have five (or more) dimensions, and an understanding of this five-dimensionality may guide us to a better understanding of psi and postmortem survival. But this model in no way precludes a Cosmic Mind that predates the universe itself, and that set up the universe in precisely this way so that mind could have adventures and experiences in the physical world.