Farrukh Yakubov

Student, Purdue University

This conversation is closed.

Where do you think consciousness comes from?

Science can give answers to many things, but consciousness seems to be an unsolved mystery. Why do you think people have consciousness? Where does it come from? Do you think it can be created artificially? How?
You may answer based on anything you know, it does not have to be a proven fact. Thank you.

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    Jul 8 2011: You're going to get answers on both sides of the spectrum here. Ask a neuroscientist and he'll most likely tell you its a function of your brain. Ask a theologist and he'll say it's our little piece of God.

    I have a question for you. Of what use is consciousness if the only being we can be sure is actually conscious is ourselves? see: Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

    Going further. How do we even know that we are actually conscious? (Ever had a dream that seemed so real you couldn't tell the difference?) People used to believe the earth was flat until proven otherwise. So as nice as it is to believe we are all conscious beings, it's equally possible that we may not be. For all we know, this could all be a part of the vivid dream a potato in another dimension is having.
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      Jul 8 2011: It is true that being conscious does not allow us to know wether someone else is actually conscious or not. But, If we didn't have consciousness, we wouldn't even know ourselves. As long as we know ourselves we can say that we are conscious. It does not have to be in reality as we call it. The thing with reality is no matter what it is we only feel and know it in our brain. Therefore, there is no difference between reality and a dream while they are in our brain. In other words, we know the reality only in a way our brain allows us to know; there might be things that are beyond conscious capacity of ourselves. Moreover, you a right about this all could be something's dream that exist somewhere. Entire life could be a dream, even dream within a dream. We can't tell the difference because there is no difference for us, we can't go beyond what our brain tells us.
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        Jul 8 2011: Hi Farrukh,
        To be honest, I was actually playing the devils advocate a little. I think there is proof enough for consciousness based on a combination of a need to survive and free-will. If we didn't have something to save, there would be no need for the preservation of self instinct.
      • Jul 11 2011: I like your explanations. You seem to be very brilliant! I agree when you said our entire life could be a dream, even dream within a dream. Our world is in our minds. Our mind is the world or universe. Consciousness comes from the mind through our physical and mind senses. But I think you wanted an answer more than that like, Who gave us consciousness, like a God that created it, is not what you're looking for as one would ask then who created God? It's a chicken and egg analogy.

        Could consciousness come from desire in our mind? I agree with you that consciousness is a kind of energy, a kind of cosmic energy in the universe or outside of our universe or physical world. Where is the source of this energy? I'm extremely interested to know too. :)
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          Jul 11 2011: I believe that we know very little about capabilities of our mind. Everything I know about consciousness is just what my own consciousness lets me to know, so I would really like to find answers to these questions too. For now we are logically trapped in a 'universal puzzle'. But one day we will learn to use our minds to reveal the pages of undiscovered chapter of science, and find the answers that we were looking for a long time.
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        Jul 12 2011: Farrukh,
        You say..."we know the reality only in a way our brain allows us to know". You also state..."we can't go beyond what our brain tells us". Does the brain program us as individuals? Or do we program the brain? My perception is that we program the brain. So the brain doesn't really "allow" us, but rather, it is the "hard drive" of our computer:>) We program it! It is said that we use only about 10% of our brain capacity. What do you think happens when we open the mind to the possibility of channeling more information/energy through the brain? I don't feel "trapped".:>)
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          Jul 12 2011: I think that even we learn to take 100% advantage of our brain, and find answers to all unanswered questions, there will be new questions emerging that we struggle to find answers.
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          Jul 14 2011: I think we start with the data already on our hard drives-DNA- that was passed down from our parents,and update it as we go- much the same as previous custodians of this data base have done since the beginning of this form of existance.
        • Jul 15 2011: If the brain is indeed a quantum processor, then it is the environment that programs or shapes our brain. Our survival instinct picks up and then adapts the brain to the environment that is is subjected to. We are evolutionary survival beings after all and have adapted all the way through the ice ages to be here today.

          The little gift of consciousness that we have only allows us to change a small portion of mainly mammalian brain. It allows us to exercise but a small portion of our largely uncontrollable brain. The rest is unconscious on a level that we are only beginning to understand. Within the unconscious (or what i like to call our animal/reptilian brain) we get the different impulses from our environment.

          Being social animals we also herd at a very deep and unconscious level. I have been studying this pattern and it is global and fractal like in nature. Even when we manage to grasp and learn to understand this phenomenon, it is still out of our control.

          We somehow believe that we are logical beings yet emotion usually wins out over ration for the most of us so how much conscious control do we actually exert over ourselves?

          I have studied and understand a little bit about the mind yet i am nowhere near being able to figure out what consciousness actually is for? It takes a lot of conscious effort to try and reprogram the unconscious, especially as we get older. Sure enough we may figure it out, but it may be a long long way away.
        • Jul 16 2011: Stavros, these are my thoughts let me know what you think.

          Agree that our subconscious is an underlying influence in everything - but it isn't absolute. The conscious mind reasons and puts new info into the Subconscious. Sub sends direct requests and sometimes our conscious mind has to intervene with discipline - it has to weigh up oher priorities in our subconscious - e.g. a person on a diet is told to eat a burger - they can stop, and say 'hey, I am on a diet' and then 2 different subconscious drivers are in conflict and this + outside information will be weighed up and we have change/adaption.

          Conscious mind is also a conduit for new info. One silly example is things like changing a password on your computer - my job forces me to do this every 8 weeks - for the first week after changing it, my subconscious automatically types in my old password, because it is still firm in my subconscious. Then I have to delete it and (consciously) put in the new one. Then by the second week the new password has replaced the old one in my subconscious.

          I feel the conscious mind allows us to make optimal decisions, and form new habits (good or bad - the subcon doesn't discriminate, once it's in, it's in) - However the conscious mind does discriminate, and sometimes if we have a bad habit in our subconscious, our conscious mind will notice, and it will look for other info in our subconscious related to that bad thing, and sometimes some info in our subconscious will be in conflict with other info, and we now have a decision point - We will think about it, and we will look for outside info to help make the decision (e.g research google).

          I feel what I'm saying is that the subconscious is a store full of ingredients, and the conscious mind is the chef who will put all the ingredients together and try to make something nice. Some chefs are better than others, so of course some people will eat a McDonalds 5 nights per week and others will eat like Gordon Ramsay all day.
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          Jul 18 2011: The idea that we only use 10% of our brain capacity is a "myth." We use it all.

          Do we "live up to its potential?"

          Probably not. But there are no untapped or latent bits that, if we brought them "online," would give us a cognitive boost.

          The myth is attributable to an erroneous - quantified - reference to William James' work and was cited (I think) in the introduction to Dale Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
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          Jul 18 2011: I think we only use 10% of our hearts. ;)
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          Jul 19 2011: QUOTE: "I think we only use 10% of our hearts. ;)"

          True enough ... but then 10% of an infinite quantity is ... carry the one ... um ... a lot.
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          Jul 19 2011: Hi Thomas,

          The 10% of our hearts line is from the movie Wedding Crashers. ...if you haven't seen it, I reccomend giving it a shot. Good entertainment.
        • Jul 21 2011: I hate to sound disrespectful, but I feel strongly about the misconception that we only "use" 10% of our brains... Do an MRI, and you will see that this is untrue. There is definitely unused parts, but it's definitely not as large a number as most people think...

          I think it stems from the fact that we can only recall a small amount of what we know, or that our capability for intelligence (organization of data, recall of data, speed of recall) is much higher than our actual intelligence...

          No offense again, I just get ridiculously, pointlessly over-upset about the "we only use 2 of our brain cells!" idea.
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          Jul 21 2011: QUOTE: The 10% of our hearts line is from the movie Wedding Crashers. ...if you haven't seen it, I reccomend giving it a shot. Good entertainment.

          I did see the movie and enjoyed it but don't recall the line ... it sounds like a line Vince Vaughn's character would use.

          [And you've gotten three thumbs up for it ... not bad!]
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        Jul 12 2011: Thanks Lindsay:>)

        I agree Farrukh that there may always be unanswered questions as long as we are on this earth school. If we had all the answers, we wouldn't need to participate in the human exploration. We don't need to "struggle" when we are open to possibilities and willing to say/think/feel... "I don't know for sure". I believe that as we expand our exploration, the capacity of the brain expands with a higher energy vibration, to facilitate more information.
      • Jul 14 2011: The difference between reality and dreaming is clear. Reality is continuous, whereas dreams are not. Today will continue from where yesterday left off. Granted we can only distinguish reality from dream in hindsight, but still the distinction is clear.
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        Jul 14 2011: Shawki,
        I agree that we start with some data/programming in the brain when we come to this earth school... maybe from past lives or universal information. Then we update it, or maybe reprogram some things based on information we get from the life experience...parents, society, various individuals, groups, study, research, etc. Thanks for clarifying my incomplete statement:>)

        I believe that by living mindfully, we can consciously reprogram the brain, and/or we can repeat the same patterns of the old programming. Just as there are various levels of programming with computers, there are various levels of data and programming with the brain. What do you think?
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          Jul 15 2011: Thanks Colleen
          I totally agree.
          Our scientist believe that the gene portion of our DNA-That we got from our parents,who got it from their parents, who got it....contain the blueprint for building every tissue in the body, these genes also describe how to operate and maintain the whole organism,control it's development and stably operates the activities of the brain.
          We, however get to put our body through its paces, much the same as an R&D engineer puts an improved computer or airplane through its paces.
          Consciousness then, is not a thing , but the process of monitoring or experiencing the interaction between our body and the universe as we put it through various configurations relative to other bodies.
      • Jul 16 2011: Farrukh: continue with your research...I am somewhat "jealous" pertaining to your intellect...
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        Jul 17 2011: Shawki,
        I've heard about the DNA theory, and agree that we recieve data/information from that source. I also agree that we "update" the data as we live our lives. I also think there is more on another level. How do we explain, for example, the fact that children born of the same parents are often very different?
        They would obviously have the same DNA and similar life experiences as children? I believed that children born of the the same parents would be similar...until I had 2 children who are very different! Then I started evaluating myself and 7 brothers and sisters! There are obviously similarities, and many differences. Do you think/feel that the differences are reflected in us as individuals with different choices as to how we "put our body through its paces"? I agree that consciousness is partly the process of monitoring/experiencing.

        Stavros,
        I agree with you that the environment, survival instinct and adaptation contribute to information that is in the brain. If these were the only factors shaping or programming the brain, wouldn't we all be thinking the same way?

        I also agree that we are "social animals" and can, at times be "herded", as when we accept the "mob mentality" for example. I do not agree that the brain is "largely uncontrolable"...mine isn't anyway!!! LOL !!! I think, as individuals, we are the ONLY entity that has control of our brain. We can make choices to open the mind to information, and we have the choice as to how we will use the information
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          Jul 17 2011: ditto all acoss the board on this post Colleen

          ..I think what we see first see in infants is that true self", before the brain strats to build other guidance and information from interaction with others..parents, family, child minders and just the content of environment around them..including the "mood" of people around them.

          Lucky those who get to emanante and unflod from this "true self"..who never lose contact with that self and who listen to it and takes its guidance all their lives And I agree with your sense that we add to that "true self" over the course of or lives..for better or for worse.

          ..I love this quote of Antonio t. de Nicolas, which underacores and beautifully expand that we always have the freedom to shape our own thoughts and create our own lives

          ."A person's life consists not so much in what happens to him or her but of the means he or she uses to gather that life, and the particular inner faculties to which those memories, images and facts are surrendered so that they not only make their lives through those acts, but make them knowingly."St. John of the Cross Alchemist of the Soul P.16 "
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        Jul 20 2011: You're right when you say that the outside reality is only as real as we are. So the only solution is to think in terms of the individual.

        I know that I exist, regardless of what mental or cognitive activities I do. I am not defined by my relations to external objects, but by my awareness of myself through various activities and states. So I am the only reality. Because in dreams my relations are with a different set of objects than during waking. How are we to judge which of the two states is real? Therefore, relations to "worlds" is not real.

        Now, beyond myself, I can check with you to see if you have similar notions about what is reality. The commonality of experience suggests that the reality of me is the same as the reality of you. That does not mean that we both are simultaneously real, because for me, you are part of the world that is not real. I am part of the world that is not real for you. But each of us is an independent reality. That very fact gives us both commonality. It eliminates the possibility of more than one reality or "consciousness" because if there are two ultimate realities then the process of comparison of our experiences would be impossible.
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      Jul 9 2011: Great points, Corey. I appreciate your sharp comment " Ask a neuroscientist and he'll most likely tell you its a function of your brain. Ask a theologist and he'll say it's our little piece of God."

      Unfortunately many researchers are possessed by brains while looking for some philosophical answers regarding our existence.... Fancy tools! but This kind of mentality goes back to the era of René Descartes. No butcher, surgeon or researcher discovered any image or thought in brains.

      I do understand that Consciousness is impossible without its Observer, which is a playful mind itself, who observes its own spectacles.

      Thank you for vivid thinking! A rare treat.
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        Jul 10 2011: Hi Simone,

        Thank you for the kudos. I'm definitely not saying one answer is better than another but, I think there is a definite distinction between individual and social consciousness. I also think that our brains are far from a perfect recording device so, we can never really be sure about anything we believe to be real. (including consciousness.)

        At best, we can make an educated guess. I liken it to looking at a tree through a dirty window. We can make out the general shape and say, "that's a tree." But, we can't really see the leaves in detail.

        Consciousness could just be a small part of a bigger picture and in my opinion it probably is.

        Anyway, thanks again :)
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          Jul 14 2011: Hi Corey. "a bigger picture" I believe, is our subconscious minds.

          And you've said "I think there is a definite distinction between individual and social consciousness."

          I have been thinking about this for years, especially when people barely understand each other but say that they believe in some "universal consciousness".... I trust that there is no way that any universal consciousness can ever exist. It can be only imagined in one's mind as a hope.
          My explanation? Nature does not allow any minds to exchange their images, sensations or thoughts Directly. "Things in themselves" as great I.Kant said.
          Even telepathy is not really an open door into someone's mind, but just a special massage.

          Consciousness is a unique "production" of one's mind, it is a privately owned domain, where each mind brews its own identity.
          I have my theory that perceptions play a tremendous role in our existence. As an artist I've discovered (for myself) that our perceptions are governed by the same classical artist rules as those we follow while painting in traditional style.
          Each mind must constantly Compare (sensations, images, sounds...), create a Composition from whatever it randomly selects. It has to Focus on something that seems more noticeable, and Frame its Composition for its observations, separating it from the rest "of the world". Corey, as you have already noticed - our minds have difficulties in "recording", "reprinting" anything perfectly. How true. It happens because any mental process
          is based on constant change - change is the only universal law that we can prove within our minds (and do not need any labs). Instability, imperfectness, imbalance and uniqueness - are characteristics of this mighty change responsible for our existence.

          I see our minds as primordial art, sound recording and animation studios.
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          Jul 14 2011: Corey and Simone,
          I agree that several levels of consciousness are all parts of the big picture.

          Simone,
          You believe that consciousness is a "production" of one's mind...the brain? I agree that we may "brew" our own identity, based on information we get from many levels of consciousness, so I don't agree that it is all simply a production of the mind/brain.

          I agree with your theory that perceptions play a role in our life experience, and LOVE your comparison to art. I also had the wonderful experience as a performing artist to create my "scene" with sensations, images, sound, light, actions and reactions...all the different "colors" of life:>)
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      Jul 14 2011: QUOTE: "For all we know, this could all be a part of the vivid dream a potato in another dimension is having."

      In which case, the potato might profit from asking (and answering) the question.

      These kinds of discussions can become a bit self referential - we talk "about" something; and then we talk about "talking about" something, and so on. [I am doing it now.]

      When we talk about consciousness (and where it comes from) more often than not, we are actually talking about "the idea of consciousness."

      And when we are talking about the idea (of anything) - well, anything goes because we can say anything we want about an idea.
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        Jul 15 2011: It definitely makes for good conversation but, the same could be said for quantum physics or religious dogmas. When you can't prove something, all you have to go on are theories. What you have to decide on is which theory works for you.
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          Jul 15 2011: QUOTE: "It definitely makes for good conversation but, the same could be said for quantum physics or religious dogmas."

          Yes, it is a good topic for conversation. One question we might ask is: "Is consciousness a "hard topic" like physics or a "soft topic" like religious dogma and philosophy?

          Not that being dogmatic is a soft topic - it can be studied and the appropriate neurophysiological processes mapped, measured and described. But what we are dogmatic about ... well, that's another story.

          I think we humans are prone to making assumptions. One of them is: If we know a word that describes something, we assume we know what the something is.

          We have a word "consciousness" - it is fair to think we assume we know what that word means - we "invented it" after all.

          I don't think we do.

          Conversations about things we actually know are, usually, very short.

          Conversations about things we think we know, are endless.

          I think knowing what consciousness is would be a good first step in streamlining any conversations we might want to have "about" it.

          There are some lovely simple tales that illustrate my point quite well - a well know one is about a group of people who had read about mangoes and they were discussing what they might taste like. The debate went around and around ... until a fruit seller overheard them and offered them a mango to taste. The discussion ended.

          How many of us can say, "I know what consciousness is?"

          I have found that those of us who (we might assume) could say such a thing (and I have met a few) are extremely unlikely to make such a comment. Those of us who (we might assume) could not make such an assertion are much more likely to talk about it with comments ranging from, "It does not exist," to "It is the foundation of all that there is," and so on.

          Know consciousness.

          Know thyself.
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        Jul 16 2011: QUOTE: "One question we might ask is: "Is consciousness a "hard topic" like physics or a "soft topic" like religious dogma and philosophy?"

        Can you please clarify? I want to make sure I understand you correctly.

        Also, the Mango parable is great!
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          Jul 16 2011: QUOTE: "... is: "Is consciousness a "hard topic" like physics or a "soft topic" like religious dogma and philosophy?"

          Can you please clarify?"

          Sure. Is consciousness "real" ... that is, would it exist, could it exist, does it exist, independently of the mind of human beings (or some such entity?)

          Or is consciousness a pure abstraction with which we can only play "word games?"

          Examples of hard topics might include: chemistry, physics (to a point), marketing, carpentry, emotions, etc.

          Examples of soft topics might include: God (but not religion), Truth (but not truth), philosophy, some theoretical physics (but not for lack of trying to become "hard") and so on.

          Of course, you can see the problem with the question (and the topic) - unless one has tasted the mango, one cannot know what it tastes like; and even if one has tasted the mango (if it were possible,) one cannot tell anyone else what it tastes like. That is the nature of experience.

          Let us assume there is consciousness and that it is real and independent (not, for example, an emergent property of the human brain.)

          Let us assume that human beings can experience it (not simply think about it) ... what would someone who had had such an experience say to someone who hadn't?

          What would someone who had not had such an experience talk about?

          It's an interesting dilemma, isn't it?

          If consciousness exists, and it is possible for a human being to experience it, then, if one wishes to talk about it authoritatively, one would want to pursue such an experience (by what ever means necessary;) and if consciousness does not exist - except as a hypothetical - there is not much point talking about it.

          Unless, of course, we like talking about hypotheticals.

          And apparently we do because we do it a lot.
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        Jul 18 2011: Thank you for the clarification. I agree. There comes a point when the discussion becomes silly and like you said, it's fun to talk about.
    • Jul 17 2011: I havnt actually read the whole conversation but I do want to add this. If beng dead can be defined as not being concious (which it is...when you are dead, you have no conciousness) then we are "dead" for most of our sleep (sleep cycle 1, 2, 3, etc) and even when we are unconcious, we can be thought of as being dead. However, when dreaming lucidly, we are concious of our existence.

      "When you're in bed, you're dead."
      Tuesdays with Morrie

      As for the question in particular, I believe in a more holistic view of conciousness in that it is rooted from a field of sorts as many have described here. However, this is not a scientific view, only philospohical and pseudoscientific at that for I have not done any scientific studies nor do I know enough of nueroscience to actually make a conclusive theory about this question.

      However, I do know of the Global Conciousness Project and how it is allowing for the study of conciousness at a grander scale to help elucidate the effects of our conciousness. This study measures the deviations of random number generator machines used for the lottery and such when large "conciousness events" occur like the Presidential election (2008) and the terrorist attacks of September 11th. This scientific study spanning more than 30 years is using Scientific and Statistical analysis to actually map how our global conciousness behaves. It is very interesting and if we want to actually talk about this topic in a scientific light we should refer to this project as a reference frame.
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        Jul 17 2011: QUOTE: "As for the question in particular, I believe in a more holistic view of conciousness...However, this is not a scientific view, only philospohical and pseudoscientific at that for I have not done any scientific studies nor do I know enough of nueroscience to actually make a conclusive theory about this question.

        Hi Raj,

        Well the guys who know a LOT about neuroscience - V. S. Ramachandran, Gerald Edelman, Edward de Bono et al - can't provide a more definitive (scientific) answer than the one you have.

        Personally, I think we often confuse "awareness" for "consciousness." They are NOT the same thing.
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          Jul 18 2011: Thomas,
          WOW...did Webster's get it wrong?
          Definition of consciousness: "The quality or state of being aware esp. of something within oneself".
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          Jul 18 2011: I love the way you think, Thomas. Unlike the rest of the deeply intuitive living world around us, we learn to communicate through our man-made language. None of our human words/terms can make sense on their own, unless we are explained and agreed upon what they "mean". Otherwise, we would not need any Webster, or even any grammar.... just like other living forms. I'd like to make some workable sense of "consciousness" for the obvious reason that we commonly use this word in different ways. Consciousness is presumably a state of Human mind, where we so desperately want to put things that we experience in our own man-made order. It's possible that our brains are growing into a such large development just because of lots of extra thinking activities. No other living creature even nearly needs this type of mental activity - it uses its instant intuition, and therefore it needs neither a compass, nor an Internet.

          What strange playhouses our minds are!

          As I understand, we are not born with a "consciousness" state of mind. We are born with blessed Awareness - super sensitivity and fantastic alertness. These abilities are getting suppressed as we age by our "consciousness", developed based on our human conventional thinking.

          The universe of subconsciousness is magnificent and ultimately intuitive. I'd call it Awareness. Well, my Out-of-body experience has proved it 100%.
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        Jul 18 2011: QUOTE: "... WOW...did Webster's get it wrong?
        Definition of consciousness: "The quality or state of being aware esp. of something within oneself".

        Hi Colleen,

        Did Webster's get it wrong?

        It depends on whether we are getting "technical" or "colloquial."

        My guess is that with Webster's ... they got it right as far as the "common parlance" is concerned.

        But we are not "common" ... are we?

        Our bodies are, at this moment regulating our heart rate, metabolism, temperature, and so on.

        Do you think "consciousness" has anything to do with that?

        Are we "aware" of it happening?

        Assuming consciousness is playing some role in the maintenance of homeostasis (and it is a debatable point) - do you think - if consciousness took a little break - we could take over using our awareness?
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          Jul 18 2011: Yes...consciousness has something to do with that, and yes, I am aware of it happening.Consciousness and awareness are intertwined according to me and Webster's:>)

          Perhaps that is not true for you, but it is for many of us. To make a broad statement like that is not accurate for some of us:>)
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        Jul 18 2011: QUOTE: "Consciousness and awareness are intertwined according to me and Webster's:>)

        Perhaps that is not true for you, but it is for many of us. To make a broad statement like that is not accurate for some of us:>)

        Well, colloquially, it is true for me too but now we are getting into two different topics: semantics and "authority" for lack a of a better word. (Can someone think of a better word than "authority" for the concept I am conveying?)

        Certainly, there is a relationship between consciousness and awareness but that does not mean the words mean the same thing. Especially when we are engaging in a discussion about where "consciousness comes from." That's the semantics bit.

        Computers can be "aware" of certain things - what you are looking at, for example - there's a TED talk on that - does that mean the computer is "conscious?"

        The "authority" bit rests on the question I have asked a couple of times: "Does anyone know what consciousness is?"

        If some of us "know" what consciousness is, we would have a distinct advantage over those of us who do not. Such people would be "authorities."

        Of course, for those of us who do not know what consciousness is these "authorities" would be unrecognizable.

        I haven't read all the posts ... so maybe someone has said, "Yes, I know what consciousness is."

        But, if no one has, then "anything goes" consciousness MIGHT be the same as awareness; it MIGHT not exist at all; it MIGHT be an illusion resulting from a complex biological process that accidentally resulted in a differential feedback mechanism in the brain; it MIGHT be the Mind of God, and so on.

        Do you know what consciousness is?
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          Jul 18 2011: Thomas,
          You really like to complicate things and talk in circles huh?

          Your statement is "we often confuse "awareness" for "consciousness". They are NOT the same thing".

          The only point I'm making is that I, and many others DO NOT confuse awareness for consciousness. Consciousness is part of awareness and awareness is part of consciousness, in my humble opinion. Perhaps it might help if you read all the posts.
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        Jul 18 2011: Hi Colleen,

        You say, "many others DO NOT confuse awareness for consciousness."

        Yes, perhaps I could have been more clear and said: "Some of us confuse "awareness" for "consciousness, some of the time..."

        In terms of making a distinction between "awareness" and "consciousness, "I'm not sure where this falls: "Consciousness and awareness are intertwined according to me and Webster's"

        Do I like to "complicate things and talk in circles?"

        Not really. I prefer simplicity.

        Circles I kind of like as T.S. Elliot put it: "And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

        So ... Do you know what consciousness is?
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          Jul 18 2011: Thomas,
          I know what my own experience of consciousness is, which I have expressed.
          As you insightfully say in another comment "know thyself".
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        Jul 18 2011: QUOTE: "I know what my own experience of consciousness is, which I have expressed.
        As you insightfully say in another comment "know thyself"."

        Where did the experience come from?

        Do you think that anyone who has not experienced what you have experienced could understand "where it came from?"
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          Jul 18 2011: Thomas,
          I experienced several levels of consciousness after a near fatal head/brain injury, craniotomy, and NDE/OBE 21 years ago. That was my frist big "lesson" in consciousness/awareness. I have lived my life as an exploration, being an observer, while fully participating in every moment, so the experience was the catalyst for more exploration into religious beliefs, philosophy, psychology, shamanism, science, and many various aspects of life and death.

          I do not believe we need to experience trauma to understand. I believe that in living a mindful, consciously aware life, we can learn, grow, and expand our understanding of anything:>)
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          Jul 18 2011: To quote myself: "At a certain point. It becomes silly."
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        Jul 19 2011: Hi Colleen,

        Yes, I gathered from some of your other posts (in other threads, I think) that you have suffered a serious injury.

        I find language somewhat limiting ... even though we all try to use it well.

        I didn't mean what triggered your experience; I meant, "Where" did you experience consciousness?"

        Where was the consciousness when you experienced it?

        Where were "you?"

        And, regardless of the triggering mechanism - trauma, meditation, mindfulness, revelation, ergot, peyote - do you think someone else who has not had your experience could understand what you are talking about when, for example, you use the word "consciousness?"
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          Jul 20 2011: Dear Thomas,
          First of all, I did not "suffer" anything. To suffer, means to endure, put up with distress, loss, etc. My perception of the experience is that I learned many things I probably would not have learned in any other way, so it was/is an opportunity. Suffering, is holding onto the pain of the challenge, which I do not choose to do. I agree...language is limiting.

          To ask "where did you experience consciousness", is like asking, where do you experience energy? I've said several times on this thread that I experience consciousness as energy. It is everywhere. Can you tell me where electric energy is? It is in lightening...at the generating plant...it runs through electrical lines...into homes, business, recreation areas, etc., does it not? It is 110 volts, 220 volts, and probably many "forms" in between. Electric energy is everywhere and yet you cannot specifically say "where" it is can you? That is how I percieve the energy that is consciousness. It comes into our homes (the body), into a breaker box (the brain) and then is seperated, and it also remains part of the source. When I experience consciousness, it is everywhere...in and around everything that is, and yet I cannot pinpoint it because it is everything and nothing. I am part of the whole...part of the energy of the generating station if you will, and yet I am also a tiny little shining night light, and it is all interconnected.

          I don't honestly know what another person can understand. That part is up to him/her.
          We can only share information and each individual will accept it...or not:>)
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          Jul 20 2011: Some of my experience of consciousness:
          When the body was being loaded into the ambulance, I'm told that I kept saying..."I don't have time for this...I have company coming for dinner, and I have to go home and cook...I don't have time.."
          According to the medical records, I was unconscious, but responding on some level. I don't remember any of this, but apparently, the brain was still connecting with something it knew to be true on a human level...the fact that I was having company for dinner, and didn't want to take time for this other "activity".

          The next conscious state I am aware of is observing the body from another place. I was in ICU after the surgery, and the body (according to the medical records) was hovering between life and death, kept alive with life support systems.
          At that point, apparently there was a small amount of energy running through the body and keeping it barely alive. The rest of "me", or the energy that is my consciousness, was in an expanded state, which was a higher vibration than the body can hold. At that point, the consciousness was aware of a much bigger picture, and there was a sense of all knowing...an expanded sense of something like intuition, or ESP.

          When the energy/consciousness came back into the body, the body stabalized (according to medical records). At that point, I was aware of being in the body, and was aware of what was going on around me to a lesser extent, and I could not communicate. Except...I'm told that I was smiling and giving my visitors a thumbs up:>)

          I experienced another level of consciousness 10 days later, when I was labeled "conscious" according to the medical model, and could communicate on some level. I was in a child like state emotionally and physically at that point.

          After that, there were continually changing levels of consciousness/awareness as the energy began again to function within the body/mind/heart:>)
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        Jul 20 2011: Hi Colleen,

        I was using "suffer" as an intransitive verb, in which case it means: "to be affected by or subject to [something.]"

        QUOTE: To ask "where did you experience consciousness", is like asking, where do you experience energy?

        I can tell you where I experience energy. And, I am sure you can tell us where you experience it too ... if you put you mind to it.

        Where do you experience the taste of an apple? In the apple? On your tongue?

        QUOTE: When I experience consciousness, it is everywhere...in and around everything that is, and yet I cannot pinpoint it because it is everything and nothing. I am part of the whole...part of the energy of the generating station if you will, and yet I am also a tiny little shining night light, and it is all interconnected.

        So, to answer the question, "Where do you think consciousness comes from, might you answer: "Consciousness is an emergent property of consciousness-as-energy (or energy-as-consciousness) interacting with and between a sentient organism and all of creation?"

        Or would you say, "Consciousness just "is" - it doesn't come from anywhere - and we simply experience it as a result of our existence within an infinite field of conscious energy?"

        Or ... something else?

        (As you may have guessed, I am trying to help our good friend Farrukh Yakubov with his original question: Where do you think consciousness comes from?)

        QUOTE: I don't honestly know what another person can understand.

        Probably anything you or I can understand - and through the same process (not circumstance.)

        And I agree with you that "that part is up to him/her."
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          Jul 20 2011: Thomas,
          If you can tell us where and how you experience energy, why don't you do that, rather than asking the same questions over and over again? Please don't tell me what I "might answer". I've answered your questions in a way that I am willing and capable of doing, and you continue to ask the same questions and try to put words in my mouth.

          I experience an apple in much the same way I experience consciousness...with awareness of all that it is...with all my senses...appreciation for the whole apple...the growth...the gift it gives me on so many levels...the beauty...deliciousness...nurturing qualities...the wonder of how it is produced...etc. etc. How do YOU experience an apple?
          How do you experience consciousness? Energy? Awareness?

          No, I did not guess that you are trying to "help our good friend Farrukh". He did a great job with his question, and in my perception does not need help getting answers. It's good to know what you are trying to do though, because it was previously unclear to me.

          You have answered your own question regarding "what another person can understand"..."probably anything you or I can understand" - and through some of the same processes or circumstances. What information a person is willing and able to assimilate is his/her choice. There have been quite a few interesting, informative perceptions put forth on this thread, so again, I don't percieve Farrukh as being in need of help moderating this discussion. He asked a question and is looking for different perspectives, and, quite frankly, I find your comments repetitive, so it would be wonderful if you would present some of your own opinions/perceptions regarding the topic, which I'm sure you are capable of doing:>)
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        Jul 20 2011: QUOTE: "Some of my experience of consciousness..."

        Thank you for sharing that.

        It sounds like a beautifully transforming experience.
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          Jul 20 2011: You are welcome Thomas:>) It was indeed a beautiful experience, and continues to be such.

          I would not say that it was "transforming"...perhaps we are facing another difference in word usage/interpretation? Transform, to me and Webster's, means to change in composition or structure; to change the outward form or appearance; change in character or condition; to cause to undergo genetic transformation...etc." I am still the same "character" with the same physical composition, structure and outward form, appearance and genetics.

          The experience caused me to be more aware of the energy of consciousness on many more levels. It opened channels/programs in the heart, mind and body, that I was previously not aware of on a human conscious level, and connected other channels/programs that I was aware of, but not realizing the interconnections.
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        Jul 20 2011: Hi Colleen,

        I haven't answered the question where I experience energy because no one asked and, even if they had, it is not particularly relevant to the topic. I do not equate "energy" with "consciousness."

        You raise some interesting points.

        Why do I ask the same question over and over?

        Because I have not received an adequate answer.

        With topics like this one, it is often assumed that "opinion" is good enough. The assumption is that the topic is essentially "unknowable" so we might as well just throw around some ideas. Ideas are great. Opinions are fine. But perhaps it is possible to actually know consciousness. Not know about it. Not know what we can do with it. Know consciousness.

        And if one knew consciousness, one might be able to provide Farrukh a definitive answer, or a definitive method of finding an answer for himself (rather than a collection of anecdotes and opinions - which are fine too.)

        You provided an experiential basis in your response so I pursued it.

        This discussion is not actually about you, you know?

        It's about seeing if we can come up with an answer to where consciousness comes from.

        Have you considered that I - or someone else responding - might actually know?

        Have you considered that a "direct answer" might not be possible; and the only way Farrukh will find a meaningful response will be self-discovery?

        I have.

        I have also considered that someone might be able to provide him with an answer that I am unaware of.

        Hence my questions. And I will probably continue to ask them.

        This is not a "social interaction" this is an exploration.

        Make sense?

        ----------------
        EDIT: How do YOU experience an apple?

        I eat it.

        But that wasn't my question. My question was, "Where do you experience it?"

        [There's no need to answer.]

        --------------
        EDIT: "Please don't tell me what I 'might answer' ... and ... put words in my mouth."

        Colleen, if you read the post again and I think you will see they were questions.
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          Jul 20 2011: Dear Thomas,
          If you "have not recieved an adequate answer", then I understand why you keep asking:>)
          I'm wondering if any answer will be "adequate" in your perception.

          I "know consciousness" as it impacts me, and can only explain my perception with the information that is in my own heart and mind.

          I know this discussion is not about me Thomas, and it is only my thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions and perceptions that I can share about the topic. You ask me questions about my experiences, then tell me the discussion is not actually about me?

          I already told you about my perception that many people "know", and have expressed themselves very well on this thread. Are you listening? Hearing? I also expressed my belief that each and every one may have different perceptions/beliefs about the topic. Of course this is an exploration, and it makes a lot of sense to me in the many ways I have expressed:>)

          I already answered your question regarding the apple to the best of my ability.

          I read your post several times, while "listening" and being aware on several different levels, which is how I read and reply to all comments:>)
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        Jul 20 2011: QUOTE: "The experience caused me to be more aware of the energy of consciousness on many more levels. It opened channels/programs in the heart, mind and body, that I was previously not aware of on a human conscious level, and connected other channels/programs that I was aware of, but not realizing the interconnections."

        Sounds lovely.
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        Jul 20 2011: Hi Colleen,

        Yes, there are answers that would satisfy my very particular questions. On July 8, Ed Shulte provided a very succinct response that I find adequate.

        I have not confirmed with him whether his answer is "a guess" based on applied logic or whether he "knows" his answer to be true but, as it stands, it is probably the best answer so far. It's not much use to Farruhk ... unless he can arrive at the same answer by independent means but it is a good answer.

        And I agree with you there are many other wonderful responses in the thread. Most of the ones I have read would fall under the category of conjecture (and there's nothing wrong with that - the question is, "Where do YOU THINK consciousness comes from?")

        I do not equate our experiences or our cognition with the self but, if you would like to have questions about your experiences and about your ideas be "about you," we can do that. In that capacity let me make a recommendation: If you have answered my question, about the apple, to the best of your ability; and if you have "listened" to my post on several different levels before you replied, then I recommend that you subtract some of the filters you apply to your "listening." They are distorting what you hear. Let me rephrase that, they are distorting what I say.

        For instance, you did not answer MY question about the apple at all. You answered YOUR question about the apple. It was an excellent answer but not to my question.

        This is tangential to the discussion but perhaps useful. Perhaps not.
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          Jul 20 2011: Thomas,
          I am glad you found something "adequate" in this discussion.
          You say..."It's not much use to Farruhk...unless he can arrive at the same answer by independent means...".
          That does not seem consistent with one of your previous statements, which I agree with..."In the end, I come to the same conclusion we are all the same. We just describe our "sameness" differently". In my perception, we don't have to have the same answer, if/when we can find common ground, even if the wording is not the same.

          I percieve several of the comments on this thread to express similar answers to the question, and I also feel that we are all much the same, and describe our experiences of "sameness" differently.

          You have questioned my experiences, and I respected your questioning with honest replies. Interesting statement Thomas..."...if you would like to have questions about your experiences and about your ideas be "about you", we can do that". LOL!
          Who else do you think/feel statements about MY experiences and ideas might be about?
          If you don't honestly want to hear about my experiences...don't ask:>)

          Re: Who did, or did not answer the question about the apple.
          You say in previous statements..." We can describe our own experience and if another person's account matches our own (even remotely) assume we may have a shared foundation". "I had to learn to listen to the message "behind" the "words".
          I agree with these insightful comments Thomas.

          I have considered your recommendations, and percieve them as not very useful. You are the only one who can do anything about the distortions in what you say:>) I have no desire to go round in circles with words that contradict.
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        Jul 21 2011: Hi Colleen,

        I suspect on some level you are doing this intentionally but allow me to point out the application of a filter that is distorting what I am saying, what you are hearing, and, as a result, how you reply.

        You open with the line, "I am glad you found something "adequate" in this discussion."

        Colleen, you know that is not what I said. The subtlety is evident and the statement must serve some purpose - it could be an "idle" mistake - but you have said you are very careful in your replies, so I think not.

        QUOTE: "You are the only one who can do anything about the distortions in what you say:>)"

        I agree but, as you can see, I must also take responsibility for the distortions that others, including yourself, hear. That is, if it is important to me that "others" hear and understand me. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is not.

        QUOTE: "I have no desire to go round in circles with words that contradict."

        Then stop doing it. The words that "contradict" are, I suggest, the editorial comments, appended by your inner narrative to my own.

        You have skillfully extracted excerpts from my posts and constructed them so as to support your own conclusion [very well done, I might add.]

        I share you opinion: "I have no desire to go round in circles with words that contradict." So I will not address them further. For one thing, it would not advance the topic of the thread.
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          Jul 21 2011: Thomas,
          I repeated EXACTLY what you wrote...word for word....of your own construct:>)
          I have made no conclusions, but rather reflected back to you, your own words. Thank you for saying it is well done:>)

          The only way it may advance the topic of this thread is to demonstrate how consciously aware we are of the words we use and how we communicate...or not:>) My mind and heart are always open to commonalities. It feels like you do not percieve very many of other people's ideas (mine included) to be "adequate".
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        Jul 21 2011: QUOTE: "I repeated EXACTLY what you wrote...word for word....of your own construct:>)"

        Well you did use my words but you did not repeat them "EXACTLY" the way I used them. (You know this ... so why you did it might be useful to contemplate just a bit.)

        QUOTE: It feels like you do not percieve very many of other people's ideas (mine included) to be "adequate"."

        Thank you for using the qualifier "it feels like." That has not been my intention (and, again, I suspect you actually know this on one of your levels of consciousness.)

        Allow me to clarify: What I said was I had not received adequate replies to "my question." That was not meant to imply there are no adequate replies to Farruhk's question. Or that there were no adequate replies at all.

        I actually like many of your replies. You are speaking sincerely from personal experience. That's as good as it gets.
    • Jul 21 2011: I'm actually both thiest and neurology (not a neurologist :P). I propose the idea that God made the brain. I'm actually averse to the general idea that "science is the devil." So, God made the brain, and the brain makes consciousness. Take away the brain, no consciousness... Like a veggie.

      I've already replied, but I figured i'd troll. I don't think it's anything mystical, or anything to hypothesize about. It's brain capacity. Whether you're a theist or not, that's what it scientifically is. And plants are green because of chlorophyll... (dear god, I hope I'm right about that plant thing :S)
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      Jul 8 2011: Hi Jim,
      I am with you in believing science can explain to us the function and mechanisms of the brain. For example, the study of brain activity in sleep:
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081008101740.htm
      It shows that the brain still functions to maintain other critical activities in the body.

      HOWEVER, have you considered your experience during deep sleep? In that state, your senses and your mind are not active. Which means you are not indulging in activities that contribute to, or are part of, your identity. In fact, after a really deep sleep, your space-time awareness is absent for significant duration. You might have difficulty walking, like you never walked before. You might not remember who you are, etc. for short duration. That is a continuation of the deep sleep situation. In other words, you feel "groggy", meaning that your definition of yourself is hazy to nearly-absent. After that, "YOU" somehow "return" to an awareness of yourself. And all this while the brain still shows activity.

      This shows there is a complete disconnect of "YOU" from the physical body. This "YOU" is not the senses, not the mind, not the personality. It's something totally non-physical. That "YOU" is what I call "naked consciousness". It is not a product of space and time and biology.

      If there were no demonstration that such a disconnection can happen, then I would completely agree that we are entirely a product of our brains and neural activity.
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          Jul 11 2011: Where does the sense of "I" come from? You can locate functions in various organs, but you can't locate "I". "I" exist as long as "I" am alive, meaning "my" body is alive.

          A brain-dead person is not pronounced clinically dead. This implies that the center of consciousness is not a single organ, but the entire body. It's an energy that activates the organs. The definition of death is still unclear. What is clear is that after death, the physical parts are all here, but "something else" is missing. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death#Problems_of_definition

          You are still not considering the deeply subjective reflection and experience that consciousness means.You are still talking about the "utilitarian" mode of consciousness, which is used for physiological functions. It is the "social identity-building" mode. The "absolute" conscousness is linked to life and death, not to identity.

          If you say it's all a system of electrochemical processes, then I ask the origin of the processes. You would have to agree that there is a separation between the grey matter and the electrical signals running through it. That electrical energy is a mode of the "absolute" consciousness. The DNA is matter, but the "information" it contains is a mode of consciousness.

          Perhaps "consciousness" is another of those unfortunate semantic-confused words.
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          Jul 11 2011: Moreover, have you considered the one flaw of empirical study of consciousness, that it needs objectivity. Objectivity means a total separation of the observer from the observed. Such objectivity is experiencing stress even in non-biological studies like quantum physics and cosmology (like you said in another discussion, "Model Dependent Realism"). Even more so such objectivity will be compromised in studying consciousness, because you are a mode of consciousness. Just like you cannot see your own back, but need external mirrors. Here the problem is, all of us are back-to-back, if you know what I mean. We are all facing the same way, and we are all like "electrons in an electrical field" If you ask an electron what an electrical field is, it wouldn't know, because it is simultaneously generating an electrical field and being acted upon by other electrical fields. It can never get out of an electrical field to study it.

          To that extent, all of our fundamental knowledge is flawed, because we use "knowledge" to discover "knowledge". However, "we" being the "highest knowledge" in our field know better about some things, and not so better about others. As such, because we cannot get out of ourselves, our knowledge of consciousness will always be partial when objectively studied. However, when "experienced" subjectively, it still leads to insights, not knowledge. But those "in-sights" are the highest we can get to.
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          Jul 12 2011: I agree Abhiram, that there is a "seperation between the grey matter and the electrical signals running through it. The DNA is matter, but the information it contains is a mode of consciousness". During my NDE/OBE, I experienced my "self" as a mass of energy:>)
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          Jul 12 2011: Abhiram, you say there is a separation of the grey matter and the electrical signals running through it. Please explain what you mean with "separation" in this context.
          I living organism is a very complex structure and nothing is separated from each other in this organism.
          Everything contains information. Even a stone. But information is not consciousness. I think consciousness is simply a term made up by man to express what makes a human a human.
          It's nothing really tangible you could point your finger at.

          Hi Colleen: good to see you again !!
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          Jul 12 2011: Hi Harald...good to see you:>)
          My perception is that it is seperate materialistically...connected with energy:>)
          I'm sure Abhiram will have a better explanation:>)
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          Jul 12 2011: Hi Colleen, thanks for fortifying my viewpoint!

          Hi Harald, I think the word "consciousness" is semantics-confused. What I meant by "separation" is the fact that energy exists by itself, without shape or form. When this energy interacts with matter, then we see some effects. A stone contains energy, but the stone matter modifies the energy differently than the brain matter. The brain can exist by itself as matter, but when electrochemical energy is introduced into it, it shapes the energy to output "consciousness". There is electrochemical energy in the stomach cells too, but those cells shape the energy differently. It results in a different "consciousness". Life happens when special matter soaks in special energy.

          I'm not sure, but maybe this is what happened: when Colleen had the NDE/OBE, "She" was still shaped by the brain and the body. So the blob of energy was conditioned by the specific matter. Blob of energy+Specific matter=Colleen. After certain death, that blob just mixes with the "free energy". We still don't know much about dark matter & energy. Physicists know a little about dark matter, but zilch about dark energy, which they say makes up more than 75% of the observable universe. This reminds me of a hymn from the Rig Veda:

          "One quarter of It is the visible universe, three quarters of It are eternal and unchanging."

          Maybe dark energy is this "absolute consciousness-energy". Dark energy does none of the things that "normal" energy does. We don't even know why it exists. YET!
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          Jul 13 2011: Dear Abhiram,
          I agree with your comment..."Blob of energy + specific matter =Colleen":>)

          The "blob" of material that was on the bed in ICU, was still "shaped by the brain and body", while the "free energy" that powers the material body/brain was seperate. My energy, and the energy of other beings was interconnected, and yet seperate. Like an electrical generating station, with electric lines coming from it and going in different directions. Or like an electric line coming into a house...into the breaker box and then seperated to different breakers. Like one drop of water in the ocean. Do you understand? Yes...I think/feel that you do:>)
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          Jul 13 2011: Abrihiram wrote "Where does the sense of "I" come from?"

          The sense of "I" is a conceptualization based on limited information. Buddhists describe it as an illusion. Awareness of "I" limits our effectiveness because it requires our brain to multitask whatever we are doing. We function most effectively when we are able to join with our activity in a natural flow without thinking about what we are doing.

          Developing consciousness transcends the sense of "I"
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          Jul 13 2011: I agree Bob, that the illusion of "I', limits our effectiveness. As you say, we function most effectively when we are able to join with our activity in a natural flow, and also, when we are able to join with other people in a natural flow:>)
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          Jul 14 2011: Hi Bob,

          The sense of "I" that I was referring to is the experience we have when not connected to anything. When you are not thinking even, all thoughts are stopped, then what happens? No mental activity, but only "i". Without association with name, job, family, country, etc.

          Like you said the Buddhists describe it as an illusion. However there are 2 ways of looking at it: 1) Because I am a superposition of various layers, and the layers are not "really real", hence "I" am not really real.
          2) Even though I am a superposition of various layers, "I" see that fact. Hence, through and through these layers, "I" am still here. But "I" can keep changing layers. So the layers are not "really real", but "I" am really real.

          It's the difference between saying that individuality is not real in the face of universality versus, individuality is itself universal. So there are no real individuals, but only different reflections of a universal. So the universal is the individual, in the sense that there is no other.

          Colleen, I perfectly understand what you mean :)
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          Jul 14 2011: Dear Abhiram,
          I LOVE it when things look "perfect":>)

          At first, I percieved the "I" Bob refered to as the "I" that is the layer recognized by the human conscious mind. The reason I percieved this, is because he speaks of the "I" requiring the brain to multitask. His reference to joining in a "natural flow without thinking", however, suggests to me that he is aware of other levels/layers:>)
          Bob...yes, no, maybe?
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          Jul 15 2011: That's a wonderful description Colleen..you were a very keen observer in your etheric state. Accounts like yours, and the clarity of your meory and interpreation are extremely valuable.

          Your wonderfully lucid "journal" of your obe/nde reminds me of Jill Bolte Taylor's.

          Because I am an advocate for peope with brain injury and cognitive disbaility I am always looking for "accounts from inside" or from "the other side" . It's important hat doctors and family members undersrand there may very well be much more awareness and presence than medicine gives credit for.
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          Jul 15 2011: Abhiram

          I love the insight and wisdom with which you speak of consciousness and try to elicit in others their own recollection of encounters with consciousness.

          The "I" awareness, awareness of "I" as separate from brain,even separate from thought seems to be timeless and universal.. that encounter with the inner observer, the inner voice is an encounter, I think, with one aspect of "consciousness" that most people have had but perhaps don't recognize as that. For many, for most perhaps, the enounter with "I" may just be written off as a brain generated thought process..part of pondering. Most who may have exprienced encounters with either their own internal "cosciousness" or a larger extrenal consciousness may not be willing to call it that or perhaps didn't expereience it that way.

          What happens to us and what we name it are two different things.

          .My own life long experience with "consciousness" ( athough I never use that word because it is too encumbered with too may inconsistent meanings to use clearly) is that aside from the clear and unique "I" there is a larger field of energy and information that sometimes just pops through but with which we can also intentionally engage and query. My sense has always been that there is something much vaster than my own brain, my own "I" at work in my work..especially in my work on behalf of others..as a life long activist and advocate.

          Artists, writers and musicisans will most often call it "inspration"

          Lynne McTaggerts work on "The Field" comes closest to descrbing what my own life experience has been. That the part of me that is consciousness, the inner I, is also the part of me that engages or is ocasionnaly engaged by the larger "consciousness"

          Long ago I deceided not to spend too much time and energy trying to understand what is happneing..in a hundred lifetimes I could not approach a perfect understanding of it. So I accept that I simply "know" it. That iy works unfailingly and constantly.
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          Jul 15 2011: Bob

          ,I think the "I" abhiram is referring to is not the same as "ego" (false self) which resides in the brain..I could be mistaken but as he was describing it I assumed he meant "the inner observer", the "core self", the "true self"
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          Jul 15 2011: Well put, Lindsay!

          I like your second paragraph.

          You're right - I wasn't referring to the "ego" which is "personality", but the "inner observer".
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        Jul 9 2011: Abhiram, I agree with Jim. We constantly shift around from one state of consciousness to another. It all depends on which parts of the brain are active at a given moment. When you sleep, it's like having your PC in hibernation mode. Only vital functions are carried out. Since switching from one mode to another is something that happens like pressing a button, you might feel kind of groggy when somebody wakes you up in the middle of deep sleep.
        At the end, as I said in another post, it all has to do with electrochemical processes. I think that theoretically we should be able to build machines with what we call consciousness. We might not be there yet technically, but it's just a question of time.
        • Jul 9 2011: It seems if they give a robot a bad memory and install some incorrect data, we might be closer to reproducing consciousness. HaHa
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          Jul 12 2011: Hey Harald...nice to see you back:>)
          In my perception, Abhiram is saying something similar to you and Jim, AND expanding on the concept:>)

          I agree that we constantly shift around from one state of consciousness to another...depends on which parts of the brain are active...like having your PC in hibernation mode...and at the end...there is more:>)
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          Jul 11 2011: Jim, when I talked about brain death, I was suggesting that in the state of brain death, the person cannot EXPRESS himself. That does not in itself conclude that the person is not "conscious" in another way.

          Utilitarian consciousness is seated in the brain because it is surrounded by all the sense organs. Other modes of consciousness may be situated in other parts but not expressible, except in death, where their expression stops, then you notice. Identity is linked to the utllitarian consciousness, because that is where the mind functions. Nobody ever identifies himself by his liver or kidney.

          OK, the term "absolute consciousness" is creating confusion. I mean by it the energy that makes things work. That same energy captured in the brain leads to mind and personality. That same energy in the heart makes it pump, and so on.

          "Now that is something I can agree with wholeheartedly!"
          HURRAY! :-)
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          Jul 15 2011: Jim and Abhiram,
          I agree with you Abhiram, and this is what I experienced with the NDE/OBE. Although I was not brain dead, the brain was certainly compromised, and unconscious according to the medical model. I could not communicate or express myself on a human level, and I was much more aware on another level of consciousness. I believe that to be the "absolute consciousness", or the energy that "makes things work...that same energy captured in the brain leads to mind and personality...in the heart makes it pump, and so on". There are many levels of energy and consciousness.

          I agree that "identity is linked to the utilitarian consciousness", or what I call the human consciousness. My utilitarian or human consciousness was disabled by the damage to the brain, and the "absolute consciousness" was very active in another state, which is why I could look at the damaged body without emotional attachment.
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          Jul 15 2011: An important distinction Colleen and one that most others experiencing OBE/NDE report..that consciousness is non corporeal..hundreds and thousands of accounts of being aware, non corporeal and separate from the body while the brain is shut down, being able to "travel" and make observations of events and conversations that were subsequently confirmed all suggest very clearly that consciousness itself is non corporaeal..it is not something we manufcature or build over our lives..some aspect of consciousness is a non-corporeal "I".


          I tink it is so great that you share your experence and can speak about it with such clarity.
          .
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          Jul 11 2011: " This is probably prone to particular biases depending on the worldviews of the subjects"

          This is precisely what I was getting at when I talked about electrons in electric field.

          Anyways, thanks again for another book referral. I had read Fritjof Capra's "The Tao of Physics". Isn't it also interesting that Jung the psychologist was interested in Buddhist theories? He says somewhere, "Our unconscious self is the source of our conscious self."
      • Jul 12 2011: Abhiram, I don't know where you got all this stuff about deep sleep and absolute consciousness but its extremely similar to Shankaracharya's ( An Indian Philosopher) theory. I am a student of Indian Philosophy and have been reading a bit about their perception of consciousness and I thought that it would be interesting to share it.

        Shankaracharya differentiates between two kinds of consciousnesses-1) Consciousness of Objects and 2) Pure consciousness.

        Let me explain-
        Consciousness of objects is when there is a subject-object duality.This occurs as long as the subject can differentiate between itself and the object. Any linguistic statement is an example of this kind of consciousness as any linguistic statement requires a subject-object duality. This is the consciousness that creates awareness and has the 'I' ( as I is the subject and the object of awareness is the object).

        Pure consciousness, on the other hand, is an extremely interesting idea. It is a consciousness which is untainted by any kind of awareness. When you experience pure consciousness you cannot be aware of anything, not even your own presence because that itself creates a duality and any duality will create subject-object kind of consciousness. Here, there is no'I' and there is no 'IT'. This is an experience of existence alone. I am sure most of us have had some such experience. Whenever we are deeply involves in some activity the awareness of multiplicity of the world, the awareness of subject-object difference vanishes and we experience nothing but existence. deep sleep is also an example of this. In deep sleep we are not aware of anything yet we cannot say that we are not conscious.

        What is the need or significance of this?
        Shankaracharyas main point, according to me, is that consciousness is not an object of knowledge and cannot be. It is neither the object nor the subject. All forms of knowledge we have require subject-object differentiation but consciousness cannot be either.
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          Jul 12 2011: Hi Shankar, I have read to some extent about Advaita. There are also very similar ideas in Spinoza, Hegel, Eckhart, Upanishads, Rig Veda, and C. G. Jung. These are the sources I refer to, to equal extent.

          The Mandukya Upanishad refers to the states of consciousness.
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          Jul 15 2011: Shankar..a wonderfully clear summary..thank you
    • Jul 9 2011: 100% agree with your take on this Jim. I really enjoyed the way that you simply explained such a dense topic. Could you tell me a little more about the book "The Believing Brain?" Does it deeper explain this view?
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      Jul 14 2011: QUOTE: "I highly recommend Michael Shermer's current book The Believing Brain."

      I have it on order. My son will bring it with him when he next comes to China.

      You might enjoy the little book, "Second Nature - Brain Science and Human Knowledge" by Gerald M. Edelman.

      Here's a short quote:

      "The scientific description is not the experience. Of course, the description of consciousness helps us to understand our experience in a way that physics alone could not do. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize the priority of experience in giving rise to the descriptions that illuminate the bases of the experience itself."
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    Jul 9 2011: It is not at all crucial for a living form to have some brains, or perhaps, even some physical body. I believe that our physical bodies are not exactly ourselves. We are just given our temporary chance to "sail" and play with these "physical" vessels, for a while. "Physical" sensations manifest our relationship with unique "constellations" of myriads of living formations which we identify as "bacteria", "microbes", "viruses" and "cells" that create "tissues", "muscles", "bones" etc,. A mind has this power to interconnect, control and put these different living formations into one breathing, walking, eating, growing or aging composition, that we experience as a "body".

    I remember that as a very young child I was scared to death of my body and my sensations of it. Later, when I was about 20, I had this "out-of-body" experience during a risky medical test. I suddenly left my body, and saw it, as well as its surroundings, without using my physical eyes. I was bodiless, and felt that I could express my thoughts without saying a word, and "move" instantly.... My experience was ultimately bold and clear: I am Not a physical body, and when I escape my body my awareness becomes overwhelming.

    There are neither physical bodies nor any brains that can form themselves into living compositions on their own, without their masters, minds. When a mind gets disconnected from a body, a body falls a part turning into other forms.

    My temporary Consciousness that is based on "bodily" sensations, in my opinion, does not manifest any great intelligence, but its playful, shallow stage. It is hiding everything else beyond the curtains.
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      Jul 10 2011: This is interesting...
    • Jul 11 2011: Can you tell us more...of where our consciousness come from? :)
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        Jul 12 2011: Hello Carole,
        I'll do my best to tell you more, but a little later.
        It is fantastic !! to hear from someone like you.
        Talk to you soon,
        Simone
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      Jul 12 2011: this sounds more like how i feel about all of it. and thats without a OBE. its like the brain is there to focus it and use it, maybe even shield it. when the brain is not there to do this, it becomes once again a free spirit.
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        Jul 12 2011: I'm glad to hear from you, Tim. I believe that the most tremendous discoveries are still awaiting for us. But these can only be made by independently thinking and learning individuals, Outside thick walls of conventional academia.

        There is no school that is able to give us any fundamental knowledge about our existence.
        I'm still learning from my very early childhood, trying to understand the most striking impressions and reactions. Our games-loving society desperately needs intuitive learners, just for the sake of survival.

        Best Wishes,
        Simone
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      Jul 12 2011: Tim,
      You said something very simply, that I agree with...when the brain is not there to focus it, and use it...it becomes once again a free spirit. Based on my NDE/OBE, I percieve consciousness to be an energy that moves through the body/brain.

      I experienced something similar to what you describe Simone...
      The body is a vehicle that carries me through this life experience. When I left the body, the energy that is "me" was totally seperate from the body, and as Tim says...a "free spirit". When I saw the damaged body on the bed in ICU, it was like looking at my ford ranger being taken into the garage for repairs after a serious accident. When the energy that is "me" was totally free from the body, the awareness and consciousness on so many levels was unbelievable:>)
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      Jul 12 2011: Simone, I do believe you are on the right track here, that consciousness is really just based on bodily sensations. But I feel we are stemming away from this understanding and trying to define consciousness in philosophical terms when we can really just apply our basic understanding of anatomy.

      The way I kind of think of it is like this, when we are born our senses (touch, smell, sight, hearing, taste) are being triggered, though our brain at that point has no real perception on what is happening. We quickly begin to make associations with these senses, for example we see an object in front of us at which our hands touch, we now have connected our sight and touch to perceive and understand the object before us. Over time, these associations become normal and our brain/body develop a consciousness or perception of our world, hidden somewhere amongst the network of neurons in our brain/body. This leads to a profound understanding of the world that leads us to ask why about things that aren't tangible.

      There doesn't need to be this spiritual sense in us that defines our consciousness. Our consciousness is a collection of memories and perceptions hidden in the brain/body that are interconnected with our senses.
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    Jul 25 2011: As I quickly scan through this conversation, I see a lot of different opinions.
    (I gave my first idea somewhere down the replies)

    From a materialistic and scientific spectrum, I do want to put one thing forward:
    We might not know exactly how consciousness emerges from our neuronal activity (though we have a few good hypothesis), we can already say what it is not.

    1) Consciousness is not external to our brain (no living brain, no consciousness measurable)
    2) Consciousness did not arise sudden (it evolved)
    3) Consciousness is not either/or (there are multiple levels, gradations of consciousness)

    these restrictions do apply for any plausible theory of consciousness, and I would suggest not to claim a single cell has a consciousness, as that would stretch the idea of consciousness too much.
    Keep it at animal level: vertebrates for example. Makes thinking about it a lot easier.
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      Jul 25 2011: In my worldview what you are describing is not consciousness. You are describing awareness which, for the purpose of this comment, might be construed as consciousness operating within and through organisms of varying degrees of complexity.

      I do not think materialistic science can come to grips with consciousness. I do think materialistic scientists can.

      Consciousness exists (regardless of how we explain it) on those grounds alone we could come up with any number of plausible theories: some would fit nicely into the world of empirical science, for example, neurophilosophy; some would not, for example, consciousness as a preexistent state or field.

      If we want to study electricity, we would not focus our attentions solely on electrical appliances.

      If we want to study consciousness, we should not only study the structures that render it functional (that would be "brains.")

      It makes sense to also study consciousness in its "raw" form.

      This, I understand, is a problem for materialists. Not surprisingly, as they see consciousness as an emergent property.

      I suggest it makes more sense to know what consciousness is, and not be able to explain it, than to not know what it is, and have a pretty good explanation for what it might be.

      As far as I know, the only thing that can know consciousness is consciousness.

      So, assuming consciousness (really does) exist, and assuming we are conscious, then it stands to reason that, in addition to studying brains and how they work, a scientist who really wanted to know what consciousness is, would have to turn his or her consciousness on itself.

      Which sounds an awful lot like that old saw: Know thyself.
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        Jul 25 2011: I once heard the metaphor of the waiving hand...

        When you wave: what is the waving of the hand? Is it there when it does not move? Is the waving material?

        As the wave emerges from the moving hand,
        So does consciousness emerge from a working (human) brain.

        As such I do not see the difficulty of emergence...
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          Jul 25 2011: Hi Christopher,

          I don't see a difficulty with emergence either. I actually like the idea and agree that "awareness" is emergent.

          I do see a difficulty with assuming, or asserting, we HAVE to define "consciousness" in materialistic terms and thereby ignoring any form of exploration that would not conform to that paradigm.

          It seems unnecessarily limiting. Comforting perhaps. But limiting.

          The "wave" is a construct. That the hand moves is not.
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          Jul 27 2011: It has been said that there is no form without function, which follows form.

          One problem is that everything that we 'know' about the universe is based on the acuity of our comparably feeble senses, the demonstratable limits of our brains ability to compute the data collected and perhaps most importantly the social paradigms providing the checks and balances wherein we develope our theories; to quote another TEDster '... Primitive superstition are peer reviewed.'

          I find it curious that consequent to our evolving concepts of self, we as a species have (once again) taken ourselvels out of the loop (circle of life... call it what you will) and given overwhelming and perhaps undeserved credability to the idea that what we have evolved to percieve of the nature of the universe is the only reality or truth there is.

          And so we ask questions like "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?"

          Is it truly so difficult to accept that there might be conciousness outside of what we can define as such and that it too is listening?
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        Jul 26 2011: It is not that I have to define it in materialistic terms,
        I think it is sufficient. (I like to use Occam's razor)

        If (and only if) someone who thinks otherwise has proof of that (self-imposed) restriction as insufficient, then I will start to consider other options.

        So to me it seems that adding immaterial components (as part of the explanation) as unnecessarily redundant. Comforting perhaps, but redundant.

        In what sense is a wave a construct?
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          Jul 26 2011: I just drafted a world-shatteringly brilliant reply (no, really!) and it vanished before I could post it.

          Oh well.

          I'll send a, no doubt, diluted version of it later when I attempt to reconstruct it from a somewhat deficient memory.

          One cannot force the muse.
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          Jul 27 2011: QUOTE: "In what sense is a wave a construct?"

          Do you need me to explain or are you just checking to see if I can?

          --------------

          I'm waiting to see if I can access my previous, seriously brilliant but lost reply ... still waiting. ... waiting ...

          ... Nope.

          No time.

          Gotta go. Bye for now.
        • Jul 30 2011: a construct is a joke
          a wave is not
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          Jul 30 2011: Redundance is relevant;

          "I said 'The plural of anecdote is data' some time in the 1969-70 academic year while teaching a graduate seminar at Stanford. The occasion was a student's dismissal of a simple factual statement--by another student or me--as a mere anecdote. The quotation was my rejoinder."

          The original quote by Raymond Wolfinger.
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        Jul 27 2011: Please explain, I don't understand what you mean by it.
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          Jul 27 2011: Oh fudge. I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this.

          As the hand moves through spacetime, its position is registered, noted, and held, in short-term memory, as an object of awareness. Each subsequent point is noted and its relationship to all others is inferred creating a sense of continuity and cohesion. We then apply a descriptor to the phenomenon - "wave."

          As yet, it has no meaning.

          When we assign meaning, the wave "becomes" ... something. Say a greeting.

          The perception and the meaning are both constructs. (And the movement of the hand is not.)
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        Jul 27 2011: Let me see if I understand this:

        Does your explanation imply that:
        - alll perception is construct? (I tend to agree, and for me that means that our consciousness is a construct as well)

        -As the waving hand is not a construct, Instructing your hand to move as such, is that a construct that gets executed?

        As we cannot ever exit our construct of reality, don't we need to assume that we can at least approach reality quite good (like a map can be so detailed, that you can rely on it with few chances of getting lost or falling in an uncharted pit)?

        Anyway, thanks for taking the effort!
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          Jul 27 2011: QUOTE: "Does your explanation imply that: - alll perception is construct?"

          Yes.

          QUOTE: "As the waving hand is not a construct ..."

          The waving of the hand - movement itself - is a construct. That the hand moves is not.


          QUOTE: "Instructing your hand to move as such, is that a construct that gets executed?"

          Yes. But we've entered another oder of complexity - remember, we are discussing a metaphor - your metaphor - when we add "reality" to metaphor, things get a bit convoluted.

          The interesting thing about the metaphor, and my explanation, is they can be used "on both sides of the argument."

          "That the hand moves" could represent either "consciousness" or, say, "energy." (It could also represent "God.")

          "Perceiving and defining the wave" could be either "awareness" (as content of consciousness) or "consciousness" as emergent from energy - after 13.75 billion years of messing around with a bunch of trials and errors, culminating with brains that have complex neural feedback loops. (Or it could mean God's creation.)
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        Jul 27 2011: Thank you for clearing that out... (I think I get your point now)

        Given the current information, I don't see either interpretation favored, so I'll keep to the non-divine interpretation.
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          Jul 27 2011: QUOTE: Thank you for clearing that out... (I think I get your point now)

          You're welcome.

          QUOTE: Given the current information, I don't see either interpretation favored, so I'll keep to the non-divine interpretation.

          Essentially the interpretations are describing the same things (that the hand moves; and the wave) so it doesn't really matter which one we pick.

          What does matter is if we know what the "thing" being described is or not. To stick with the metaphor: Do we know what it means "that the hand moves?" For example, do we know what triggered the expansion; do we know consciousness; and so on.

          If we don't know what the "thing" is, I suggest it makes sense to simply keep an open mind and not get to attached to our own favoured interpretations - even as we try to perfect them.

          It's not that there is anything wrong with the interpretations per se, it's just that reality has a tendency to be very uncompromising. It will not adjust itself in order to conform to a faulty description.

          If we insist our interpretation is accurate (when it isn't), we will probably miss anything that doesn't fit within our model.

          Is it possible to describe a thing (anything) before we know it? ... I don't think so.

          Is it possible to "know the thing?" In this case, consciousness.

          Some say it is. What do you think?

          It's a rhetorical question but your answer might have an impact on what you will allow yourself to consider.

          And just to be clear, I am not promoting one interpretation or another. I am promoting knowing ... even if it might not be possible.
        • Jul 27 2011: Christophe,

          "Consciousness is not a suitable subject for scienti¢c
          investigation because the very notion is ill-de¢ned. We do
          not have anything like a scienti¢cally acceptable
          de¢nition of consciousness and it is not easy to see how
          we could get one, since consciousness is unobservable "

          could you comment on this?
        • Jul 27 2011: Here is a quick reply to Thomas and Chris,
          I'm back from my vacation and once again here to haunt you Chris...
          It's amusing to see how the two of you can ramble on about trying to define the nature of thinking without ever using the actual word. What you Thomas might be getting at is the activity of thinking itself.
          The hand you observe is your "percept" of the hand. This corresponds with your "concept" of the hand. The movement of the hand is also your perception of movement which in turn your thinking provides the concept that is the corresponding part of your percept. What you then call the "wave" is also a concept you have in your own thought processes. A wave can be interpreted in a hundred ways. A queen waves one way... a child another... the working man's wave.. the solders wave.. are all variations of the concept wave... but your thinking deciphers the one wave from the other. Thinking must be recognized in this process otherwise you are just spinning your wheels.
          To "know" the "thing in itself" has been the stone in the shoe of philosophy for years. But to keep things simple, we can refer to the truths of mathematics (Chris will like this) or perhaps geometry. This will keep our "perceptions" and our "concepts" as pure and simple as possible... if you know what I mean...
          Now take a triangle.. a triangle is the same for you Thomas and Chris as it is for everyone on the planet. The concept triangle we can hold in our "minds eye" .. when we do this.. our thought triangle becomes a percept. also the object of our thinking. All ideas are just the same although more complicated in their picture form or in their pure abstraction.
          This is the whole mystery of the activity of thought. Thoughts themselves are in fact objects of perception that can be observed, ..."moved around" .. like the waving motion of the hand... all in your "minds eye" !!
          You both have to get closer to the true nature of thinking to ever get closer to an understanding of consciousness.
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          Jul 27 2011: Hi Daniel,

          Thanks for your comment.

          QUOTE: It's amusing to see how the two of you can ramble on about trying to define the nature of thinking without ever using the actual word. What you Thomas might be getting at is the activity of thinking itself.

          We are, I hope, enjoying our exchanges here on TED so It's good to hear you find this one amusing. However, I assure you I am not rambling on trying to define the nature of thinking. We could have that conversation if you like, I find it fascinating and much easier than defining consciousness (something I suspect cannot be done which is not to say consciousness cannot be "known" ... and I do not mean known in the cognitive sense.)

          QUOTE: "Thinking must be recognized in this process otherwise you are just spinning your wheels."

          How is it you think thinking has not been recognized? Because the word was not used? Thinking is implicit in the explanation (short-term memory, inference, etc.) but this discussion is not about thinking. It is about consciousness.

          QUOTE: You both have to get closer to the true nature of thinking to ever get closer to an understanding of consciousness.

          I suggest you are mistaken (actually I know you are.) There is a possibility you believe "consciousness" to be a pure abstraction and, as such, it cannot be known, it can only be thought about in ever more refined terms (as we get closer to the true nature of thinking, and so on).

          If consciousness cannot be known (as I define the term) we would be in agreement.

          If consciousness can be known (as I define the term) we would not be in agreement.

          "Knowing" and "knowing about" are not the same thing.

          As this is a discussion about consciousness and not about thought (unless you equate the two - in which case, we could have that discussion too) let me ask you my favourite question (in this thread):

          Do you know what consciousness is?
        • Jul 28 2011: Thomas,
          What I see in your discussion is an attempt to nail the idea we have of consciousness to the floor... a typical scientific approach to any phenomena.... nail it down... weigh it ... measure it.. use all of the physical sciences at our disposal to "define it" This is perhaps the biggest pitfall that the scientific method is in danger of. Don't get me wrong. The scientific method is not the "wrong" approach, but still, the most giving and rewarding "answers" are lying in what you can not see, measure, weigh, etc.
          You ask me to tell you what consciousness "is".. well Thomas, if you look again at what Farrukh asked for in his introduction is the question "Where does consciousness come from?" I have yet to address that question.
          You may just as well asked me ...what is a cat?... What really is the phenomenon "cat"...??
          As all phenomenon, to be understood, as far as our perceptions and thinking allow, we are limited...granted... however, to say that we cannot "know" the phenomenon consciousness falls under the exact same limitation of not being able to "know" the phenomena of "cat" fully 100% The nature of the limitations of our perceptions is to different degrees limiting. This being said, I will return to the plain and simple... mathematics or geometry. These are things that are withing the reach of our physical perceptions that can lead us to what we so desperately want to call "truth" ... the full, naked, and undivided truth.. basically, because we can all agree on our perceptions... as the color of a cat might easily be disputed.
          To "know" consciousness is possible only by studying its thousandfold presentations of itself in the world around us. Where do we see the phenomena "consciousness" in nature? Where do we see its expression in mankind? In the animal kingdom? The plant?
          Your attempted "definition" falls finally on your own limitations. Perhaps limited by the ever predominant world view that the scientific community has indoctrinated us all with.
        • Jul 28 2011: Thomas,
          I continue.
          The consciousness that we "experience".. "within us" does not necessarily arise as you and Chris would quickly assume as an "emerging property" This is the assumption of the materialists. They have no other path to follow... as any reference to a supernatural or divine element in the human being is already crossed off from their list of possibilities. It's material and material only. This also amuses me. That the materialists own thinking refuses to recognize the most spiritual faculty of their own thinking !! Thinking is a spiritual faculty. There! I've said it ! I've now stepped over the line of what is "allowed" within the self imposed boundaries of what science chooses to impose upon itself. Prove it ! you say. How dare I make the quantum jump from what is "scientifically proven" to the so called "mystical"
          As much as you may react to this statement, I just the same choose to let you know where I am coming from... The spiritual world is as real as the world of consciousness. and in many ways may even bring us closer to a "nailed down" "concrete" definition of "what" consciousness "IS".... as totally abstract as it all still may sound ... :-)
          Furthermore, I know by choosing the word "spirit" that every person out there on TED reading this will now react... perhaps I'll get a comment.. perhaps a "thumbs up" ... fortunately there is no longer a thumbs down ! I have no personal image to uphold or maintain. If someone can "prove" me wrong.. with or without mr. oscam ... so, please feel free... I always try to be open to what everyone means to say... and I expect the same from others... although Chris and I have bumped heads before.. we are still able to meet on TED with open minds... right Chris?
          My comments can be very wordy sometimes.. I apologize for that. There are plenty of shorter comments to read along this discussion.. so please do if anyone should find theese comments too wordy.. ..
          Thanks for now! Be back later..
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          Jul 28 2011: QUOTE: "What I see in your discussion is an attempt to nail the idea we have of consciousness to the floor... a typical scientific approach to any phenomena.... nail it down... weigh it ... measure it.. use all of the physical sciences at our disposal to "define it"

          Hi Daniel,

          You see all that in my posts? Interesting.

          It's not there (read them again with that at as an assumption and see if it makes a difference.)

          I would like to point out a habit I have noticed in your posts (to me:) You presume to know my unspoken intention and you respond to things you think I have said or you think I will say.

          For example you assume I am talking about thinking when I am not; and you assume I asked you to tell me what consciousness is, when I did not.

          I find this style of communication frustrating because I essentially become a third party to a conversation you are having between yourself and an imagined me in your own head.

          Your responses are quite clever but they are not responses to things I have said. As another example, I did not say we could not "know" consciousness - nor have I offered or attempted to offer a definition of consciousness. (... Are you beginning to see what I mean by "an imagined me?")

          Let me be plain: Your assumptions about what I assume are (so far) inaccurate.

          I do not think such assumptions contribute to an effective dialogue.

          No doubt, we will have real differences that will provide us with challenging exchanges - we do not need the unnecessarily added challenge of imagined disagreements.

          I will attempt to say exactly what I mean, no more, no less; would you attempt to hear what I say; no more, no less?

          Deal?
        • Jul 29 2011: Thomas,
          ...Nothing personal Thomas, ... but it confuses me when your comments contradict themselves. In the one comment you say ..quote.."Do you know what consciousness is?"
          and in the next comment you say .. quote..19 hours ago "You assume that I am asking you to tell me about thinking when I am not and you assume that I am asking you to tell me about consciousness when I am not.." ... so you can understand that this is confusing...
          As for you talking about thinking... as I once said earlier... it was exactly what you were talking about whether you were aware of it or not. That was my observation. And an accurate one.

          This whole conversation is getting rather pedantic .... I think we should just let it go at that.
        • Jul 31 2011: Thomas,
          Have you ever been out driving in your car and come up behind someone who has their blinker on and doesn't know it themselves....? Everyone around them sees that their blinking.. but the person inside the car never seems to finally make the turn....

          .... or ... maybe you have an old LP with a scratch in it..... that just keeps repeating itself... repeating its.... repeating its.... repeating its....
      • Jul 28 2011: Ok Thomas, but excuse me once again.... what does it say in the last sentence in your previous comment...? ..21 hours ago ... it reads like this..."Do you know what consciousness is?" ...?? ... I'm sorry if I understood you to be asking me the question Do you know what consciousness is?.... just because your last sentence asks .. your favorite question... "Do you know what consciousness is?".... That doesn't really mean that you've asked me the question.....?... I guess....???
        ... and when you further say ..quote.."I am promoting "knowing" "even if it might not be possible"...
        If this means that we still have a chance of knowing what consciousness really is then you should try to express it more clearly than saying that it "might not be possible"... otherwise people might think that what your really saying is that "it might not be possible..."
        And as for me saying that you were talking about thinking.. well ... that is exactly what you were doing .. in case you didn't know that yourself....
        Deal Thomas !!
        You too must say what you mean ... and mean what you say !
        I do think that we have some points to agree on and I agree that imagined disagreements are of no use.. so.. lets go further in the discussion.
        It's late here for me and I will soon be off to bed. I'll try to catch up on the conversation tomorrow.
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          Jul 28 2011: Hi Daniel,

          The question "Do you know what consciousness is?" means, "Do you know what consciousness is?"

          It does not mean, "Will you tell me what consciousness is?" or "Can you tell me what consciousness is?" or anything other than, "Do you know what consciousness is?"

          So, if you choose to answer it, sample answers might be, "Yes," "No" ... or perhaps, "I'm not sure."

          QUOTE: "... further say ..quote.."I am promoting "knowing" "even if it might not be possible"... what your really saying is that "it might not be possible..."

          I am NOT "really saying .. that "it might not be possible..."

          What I am "really saying" is that we should strive to know (whatever) even if we do not know if knowing is possible or not.

          "I am promoting 'knowing" would suggest, that I think it is, at least, possible to know. Using the conjunction "if" would hold open the possibility that it might or might not be possible. One would not "know" until one "knows" ... or until it was proven that knowing was not possible.

          Also, the comment was addressed to a specific individual, Christophe, who has a very particular world view (as do we all) so it was crafted to conform to my understanding of his worldview.

          QUOTE: "And as for me saying that you were talking about thinking.. well ... that is exactly what you were doing .. in case you didn't know that yourself...."

          You see, I find this frustrating, you seem to feel you are more of an authority on what I am writing about (or intending to write) than I am.

          I was NOT writing about thinking. I was writing about a particular metaphor and how it relates to the discussion we are having about consciousness (and where it might come from.)

          Thinking while implicit in my explanation is incidental to the point.

          The fact that thinking is involved in the process does not mean I was writing "about" thinking any more than writing about making a cake means I am writing about "mixing."

          QUOTE: "You too must say what you mean ... and mean what you say !"

          I do.
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          Jul 29 2011: Hi Daniel,

          I am not surprised you are confused by some of my posts. You "read" things that are "not there" and then you assign them meanings that the author did not intend.

          I would be confused too!

          I have scanned one or two of your comments to others, and you do this with them as well.

          If I might make a suggestion: Read carefully and ask yourself, "What does the AUTHOR mean by this?"

          I suspect what is happening is you are reading quickly and, if you are asking yourself anything at all, it might be, "What does this mean to ME?"

          It might even be more reflexive than that: you read something, it triggers a thought, perhaps because it reminds you of an idea you hold dear or of something you have read; and then you respond to your thought (not to what the author intended to say.)

          Let me give you a simple example of what I mean by reading "carefully."

          You quote me as saying, "'You assume that I am asking you to tell me about thinking when I am not and you assume that I am asking you to tell me about consciousness when I am not..'"

          That is not what I wrote. And I do not mean, that is not what I meant. It is quite literally not what I wrote.

          Many of us believe our thinking to be excellent (now I AM talking about thinking) ... and you, no doubt, believe your thinking is excellent too.

          It makes sense: thinking is immediate, it's personal, it's "in our own heads" - what we think would obviously make more sense to us than what someone else thinks. Especially when we consider that what someone else thinks must be transmitted by the written or spoken word, by body gestures, or by some other art.

          It seems to me you believe your thinking to be particularly good - so good, in fact, that your understanding and interpretation of a comment should take presidence over the person's who actually wrote the comment.

          At least twice, I have told you your understanding of my comments is not accurate and, at least, three times you have told me I am wrong.

          Thus the need of pedantry
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      Jul 25 2011: Christophe, my friend:>)
      You write:
      1)"Consciousness is not external to our brain (no living brain, no consciousness measurable)"
      2)"Consciousness did not arise sudden (it evolved)"
      3)"Consciousness is not either/or (there are multiple levels, graduations of consciousness)"

      I absolutely agree with 3.

      1 & 2...If, in your opinion, consciousness is not external to the brain...no living brain...no consciousness..." and it "did not arise sudden (it evolved)", where does it evolve from?
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        Jul 25 2011: (below are hypothesis, I'm not sure about it, but it is ow I think it works)

        As a brain starts to evolve (in the womb untill 21 years, or even later), and as the structure gets more complex and programmed (cutting of dendrites, processing sensory input,...), the activity will gradually become more and more what we call consciousness.

        Also, lesion studies show partial or complete loss of consciousness... meaning that it truly rests on the proper functionality of the brain
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          Jul 25 2011: Christophe,
          In your previous comment, your statement I agree with is: "Consciousness is not either/or (there are multiple levels, graduations of consciousness)".
          Which "level" are you refering to in your comment above when you say the brain "starts to evolve in the womb untill 21 years, or even later"?

          I agree with Thomas, that you are refering to awareness, rather than consciousness. Awareness can be part of consciousness, and it is not all of it. You are limiting yourself to one dimension.
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        Jul 26 2011: If I limit myself to awareness, then you ought to give a qualitative difference that shows the difference between awareness and consciousness. Can you help me out here?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness Wiki sees it as a synonym

        by "Levels" I was indicating that there are different states of being more or less conscious, and that they are sometimes seen in people with brain damage or severe mental disorders. It may also refer to the different patterns of brain activity that indicate different levels of consciousness.

        First conscious memories start to appear around age 2; and more and more cognitive abilities develop from birth on. On average, there is still a difference between the brain of a 16 year old and a 21 year old (see for example moral development studies, certain illusions and nuanced thinking). I was referring to a continuum here. If no developmental problems appear, you could consider it the 'normal level' but I would not use level from that approach.
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          Jul 26 2011: Hi Christophe,
          I also percieved awareness/consciousness to be synonyms, based on definitions I was aware of. A discussion with Thomas, in this thread, caused me to re-evaluate my thinking on the topic. Sometimes, when we get new information, the old definitions don't work as well any more. Many scientific disciplines are revealing the fact that consciousness is beyond the programming of the brain, so what might have been consciousness/awareness as we previously could describe it, may be changing. Consciousness, according to many scientific theories, which are evolving these days, is not simply the information programmed in the brain from the time we are in the womb to age 21.

          The different levels or states of consciousness are not only seen in people who are brain damaged or have severe mental disorders, but is also seen in different patterns of brain activity with "normally" functioning brains. It has been scientifically proven that some who meditate for example, have changed the brain activity that is considered "normal".

          You are right...cognitive abilities develop from birth on and there is a difference between the brain of a 16yr. old and a 21yr old. I am aware of moral development studies, illusions and nuanced thinking. You are still limiting yourself in believing that consciousness is simply what happens in the brain from the time we are born to the time we die. I am not a scientist, but am certainly very aware of a lot of research that is being done. I also had an experience that expanded my consciousness/awareness, and I don't really care if you believe that or not...I'm simply providing information:>)
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        Jul 26 2011: Thanks for elaborating

        I had my own portion of weird, profound and ecstatic experiences.
        And have some limited meditation practice, so I do understand the different states from both knowledge and experience (the fun thing with consciousness experiments is that you can do them quite easily to verify or explore the possibilities)

        I did not claim that everything is pre-programmed. All the information that enters through your senses, the changes caused by hormones and substances, trying to learn something,... it all adds to it.
        If you see all that as programming as well, then it is all a running program (that gets changed constantly, but heavily influenced and interacting by/with our genes as well).

        I do understand the concept of consciousness and awareness in eastern traditions means something different, so that's why I did ask for some demarcation...

        Your arguments don't give a clear cut example of activity external to the brain... (except from sensory input, which is also materialistic).

        Of course I limit the idea of "my" consciousness (or any individual human's) as limited between birth and death...
        But if you want to talk pan-galactic, and see yourself one with the universe, then that concept of consciousness is not limited to one body. Though I would suggest to use other terms for that...
        Same goes for society-emergence, or AI-emergent consciousness...

        Maybe we can use this?

        H-consciousness: 1 individual
        C-Consciousness: the cosmos
        S-Consciousness: a society
        AI-consciousness: artificial consciousness
        A-consciousness: Animal consciousness
        &c &c
        (and maybe abridge to AC, HC, AIC,...)
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          Jul 27 2011: Dear Christophe,
          I agree that it is fun to do consciousness experiments to explore and verify the possibilities:>)

          I did not say that you claimed that everything is pre-programmed. I agree that everything we experience contributes to the information that is stored in the brain. Yes, I percieve all our experiences to be part of the programming, and I also agree that there is a "running program" that may constantly change...or not. I believe that in order to change the information running through the brain, we can be more or less aware, and change some of the information by making choices. We can change patterns of information in ourselves that are no longer usefull, when we get new information, for example.

          I agree that there may be some differences in perception of consciousness in some eastern traditions, and I believe this is the piece that many in western cultures are searching for. I believe the awareness of expanded consciousness is more advanced. While we, in western culture have been working on expanding technology, those in eastern cultures have retained their sense of expanded consciousness AND opened their hearts and minds to the expansion of technology as well.

          If you want to call all activity that runs through the brain "materialistic", so be it. My examples have indeed given a "clear cut example of activity external to the brain", and you will not accept my perception if you limit yourself to a certain belief/label:>) I do percieve you to be bending a bit however! :>)

          You say Christophe..."of course I limit the idea of "my" consciousness (or any individual human's) as limited between birth and death..." My consciousness is more expanded than your description of what "any individual human's" consciousness may be, and so are lots of other people in our world. If you want to limit yours to merely the information you recieve from birth to death...so be it:>)
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        Jul 27 2011: Thanks again for the further explanations (I'm learning).

        I think our agreement is sufficient (unless you wish to continue to even more depth),

        I only wish to comment on your last paragraph: It is not that I "chose" or "want" to limit my consciousness to what happens between my birth and death. I think it does not make sense to talk about another form of consciousness in the same way.
        I can't see any evidence of that expanded consciousness... And I don't see the use of stretching it to such limits (except maybe in fantasy or thought experiments).
        So Indeed, I wish to limit the meaning of consciousness to something that is known to exist.
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          Jul 27 2011: Dear Christophe,
          We are all learning:>)

          Yes, our agreement is sufficient for now, because you do not believe in the depth I would like to go with the discussion:>) I respect your choice to "limit the meaning of consciousness to something that is known to exist"...to you:>)

          One more question, which you can answer...or not:>)
          If it is not you who chooses to limit your consciousness to what happens between birth and death, then who is responsible for that limitation?
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        Jul 27 2011: "If it is not you who chooses to limit your consciousness to what happens between birth and death, then who is responsible for that limitation?"

        Hmm... what an odd question.
        I see it as a matter of definition. If someone else uses another definition, that is their right. Though a common definition (working definition) is often handy when one discusses a topic. So to me, this is a matter of linguistics
        I don't see anyone being responsible for it. Do you?
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          Jul 28 2011: Hi Christophe,
          I do not percieve it to be an "odd question" unless you also percieve your statement to be "odd".

          Your statement is: "It is not that I "choose" or "want" to limit my consciousness to what happens between birth and death. I think it does not make sense to talk about another form of consciousness in the same way".

          Farrukh, in his introduction/question does not limit the discussion to a particular form of consciousness, and in fact, clearly states:..."You may answer based on anything you know, it does not have to be a proven fact"

          If you choose to limit this discussion to only the form of consciousness you think you know, and can explain, that is a choice YOU make, is it not? If going beyond that, does not make sense to you, that's ok, and it is a choice YOU make. You are limiting yourself.
    • Jul 26 2011: It is not sound to posit that there can be no consciousness external to a brain. If the founders of electricity theory had used an idea like that, they would have been severelly handicapped in their researches. The analogue would be: "here we have an electric motor, and find out lots of things about it, but by Occam's razor, we will not bother about possible electric fields elsewhere" Not a fruitful assumptilon. I see no persuasive argument that consciousness cannot be a Field like electricity. By the way, as a "materialist", how do you explain light, electricity , magnetism and energy? They all, in combination with cycles and wave patterns, seem to be on a more fundamental level than any "material". How can anyone be a "materialist" after the discovery of radiation?
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        Jul 26 2011: I consider all elementary particles and energy packages as material. Or rather, the term materialism dates from an older time than those discoveries. As such elementary particle-ist might be better, but that would sound odd.

        There could be consciousness outside the brain iff there would be a similar computational system doing the job exists. I don't think that exists for the moment.
        • Jul 28 2011: That" consciousness must have a brain "is a lot like saying that electriciity must have a dynamo. If we can use an analogy from mathematics, electricity, and other non-material "Forces" in the world may well be "Axioms" i.e. un-provable assumptions which are so basic to the scheme that they must be assumed in order to have items to talk, and make theories, or proofs, about.. The fact is the we do not know what ANY Axioms "ARE"; they must be assumed (if you want any results. That is why they should be chosen carefully, on a level where they can be productive.
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          Jul 29 2011: I suggest that in human form, the energy of consciousness needs a carrier, which is the body/mind. In order to begin exploring this idea, people need to move beyond the perception that the energy of consciousness is produced in the brain, which science is beginning to do:>) Ancient cultures were aware of the extended field of energy/consciousness, and as you say Shawn, it is an assumption very basic to the scheme. Now we have technology, which can help provide evidence:>)
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        Jul 27 2011: I agree Shawn, with everything you write:>)
        My NDE/OBE tells me that consciousness is similar to an electrical field, and it may be more or different than that, but electrical energy is the only way I can describe it, because it feels like we don't have the appropriate language to describe it in any other way.

        Christophe,
        You say the term "materialism" dates from an older time...". I think the concept of consciousness dates from a much older time! :>) I believe the "computational system" for consciousness outside the brain exists, we simply don't have a label for it yet. Christophe, it sounds like you need a label and explanation BEFORE you accept a theory? That doesn't sound very scientific:>)
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          Jul 27 2011: I do think that a description of a phenomenon is the least one needs to do in order to start relating it to others, and finding out whether it influences current or new theories.

          If something is not expressed in a speech act... one cannot talk about it, right?

          A theory without labels and explanation seems very odd to me. A theory is an explanation. a label is a way to talk about (a set of similar) phenomena...

          Can you perhaps tell me how you observe the "computational system" you believe to exist?
          where can I measure it? Can and does it affect us and how? are there clues?
          Sounds very interesting.
        • Aug 3 2011: Mathematics can be said to be a "Theory". Many people have had High School Geometry, a very sort of visulal Math. As we may remember, it all starts with assumptions about using "points" "lpnes" ,, "planess" , etc. which are axioms, i.e. supposed to be so obvious that they may remain "Unproven", and indeed, never could be. So the "Theory" is not just an expanation, or a labelling of some "fact", but rather a coherent system giviing a big picture, hopefully usefull, especially in predicting unexpected "things" which can be verified.. So to get back to Consciousness, a very serviceable picture , or theory, can be formed by useing Consciousness as an unproven axiomatic sort of affair, rather than trying to "explain" it by way of brain activity. So the brain then would BE the "computational system, all right, but it would not be that fundamental, and not be "essential", just as Lightning is not essential in the electrical universe. By the way, Colleen, if you read this:( I'm not too skilled in the mechancis of this website, and didn't get an answer from TED about how to use it;) I wanted to ask ypu : what is :NDE/OBE"?
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        Jul 28 2011: I agree Christophe, that if "something is not expressed in a speech act...one cannot talk about it".
        We have a basic term for what we are talking about..."consciousness". And you've said that the "form" of consciousness you are familier with is the only one you want to discuss...accepted:>)

        Christophe, I am not a scientist...simply a person who had a experience that I am willing to share. I may never be able to offer the proof you need to be able to participate in a discussion, especially if you believe that discussing other forms of consciousness is not appropriate for this discussion. That seems odd to me considering there is no limitation put on the question.

        Christophe, you are obviously a very intelligent person, and it seems a shame that you come into this discussion and say what you know and can prove is the ONLY answer to what consciousness is.

        No, unfortunately, I cannot explain in scientific terms how I observe the computational system.
        I don't know how to measure it,
        Yes, it affects us, and there are clues...even science is beginning to understand this, because of the technology we have today.
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          Jul 28 2011: Colleen,
          No need to be a scientist... try and explain in your own words...

          If there is another form of consciousness, I'm willing to debate, and want to learn about it.
          Or I could think about it hypothetically... I don't think it refers to reality though. Which does not mean I don't like fantasy (as a matter of fact, I love fantasy)

          Furthermore, one can approach consciousness from the experience point of view: how one experiences his consciousness, in all it's aspects.
          It does not exclude the more 'objective' understanding of consciousness though.

          So indeed: my preference is talking about consciousness that exists, rather than those forms of consciousness we wish to exist... But everybody can discuss this here as well, can't they. I probably won't participate in such discussions that much.

          (sidenote: It is not "what I know and prove", it is "how I think it is, given what I know about it... ")
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        Jul 28 2011: Christophe,
        I have been explaining in my own words, and you keep asking for proof, and telling me that you limit yourself to what you know and can prove. I cannot scientifically prove much of what I believe.

        Ok...you can think about it hypothetically...hypothetical does not necessarily mean fantasy, in my opinion...but it could:>)

        I agree...we can "approach consciousness from the experience...how one experiences...consciousness, in all its aspects".

        I respect your preference to talk about consciousness that exists, rather than those forms of consciousness we wish to exist. I'm not wishing...I'm "knowing", but that is indeed, my own perception, which just happens to be supported by millions of people:>)

        OK...you've brought up fantasy, and in another comment imagination. Where do you think fantasy and imagination come from? You are aware of images/hieroglyphics that have been found in several ancient cultures, depicting "flying machines"? If your theory regarding consciousness is correct...that it is only the information programmed in our brain from birth to death, then where did the fantasy/imagination for "flying machines" come from? It is scientifically proven that these images were indeed done by people living in ancient cultures. It is scientifically proven that they did not have "flying machines" at the time, and yet they were often drawing images of "flying machines". Where do those types of ideas come from? What motivates scientists to go beyond what they already know to explore into the unknown? Again, if we are only operating bases on information programmed into the brain from birth to death, how does our mind evolve?
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          Jul 28 2011: Interesting thoughts and remarks Colleen.

          concerning your experiences: I do think that what you say your experience was, is true. You experienced something, you can relate it, and others can or cannot relate or understand it.

          I don't deny peoples experiences. What I do deny is that an experience necessarily refers to an outer reality. That's why I ask for evidence (not proof!).
          I myself have had quite a bunch of experiences that I know -quite sure- don't refer to reality. We humans do experience a lot of illusions...

          So where do I think Imagination comes from?
          I think that we recombine our current knowledge and information. This enabled us to think about future scenario's and possible outcomes of acts we "plan" to do. This imagination helps us to do rewarding actions and avoid negative outcomes.
          Recombining of snippets of knowledge also enables us to think about things that are unlikely to be true, but maybe fun to think about them anyway (the thinking itself is rewarding)
          As such, fantasy arises (and can take flight with language, so we can pull others into our imagination)

          Concerning the "flying machines", I am extremely skeptical.
          1) How do you know the depictions are flying machines? Can they represent something else? Can it be coincidence?
          2) The idea of gods and their carriages across the sky don't need to rely on real observations in order to depict them.

          "What motivates scientists to go beyond what they already know to explore into the unknown? "
          I don't know about all scientists, but I think the unknown is exactly what science is always seeking: to find out what we don't know, and try and understand it. Seeking understanding, and finding good descriptions and reasons or stories about those phenomena.
          Science just does not deal with in-existing things...

          You can cross those two concepts: existing (or not) and knowing (or not)
          - We know existing things
          - We don't know existing things
          - We know in-existing things
          - We don't know in-existing things
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          Jul 28 2011: (damn, I crossed the character limit)

          To conclude: I try to point out the 3rd statement (we know some things don't exist).
          You appeal to the 2nd (We don't know if something exists).

          A scientist seeks for the 2nd and the 4th, and accepts the 1st and the 3rd.
          [edit] And wants to put everything into 1st and 3rd (if possible)
          the most thrilling, to me, is to find as much of the 1st. The 3rd is fun. (It's the fantasy!)
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        Jul 29 2011: Dear Christophe,
        You are right...you asked for "evidence", not "proof". Sorry for my mistake in the use of terms.

        I believe that some of what we call "imagination" comes from a collective, or universal consciousness, which is unlimited and unending. Information flows through us with energy consciousness. Both energy and consciousness need a carrier in human life form, and that is the body/mind. Some information is stored in the brain, and is, as you say, programmed from our birth to death, while other information is available to us if we open our minds and hearts to the possibilities. I agree with you that we "recombine" knowledge and information.

        Of course the depictions of "flying machines" in ancient cultures could be coincidence, or something else. I'm only going by what I've read regarding the scientific studies of the topic. If you think/feel they might be images of "gods in their carriages" that's fine. I did not bring "god" into this discussion, and I'd prefer to keep it on a scientific level, if you don't mind:>)

        I totally agree with you regarding science, which is why I'm puzzled by the fact that you want to keep the discussion of consciousness limited to what you already know:>)
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          Jul 29 2011: Thanks for sharing your idea of consciousness.

          I don't think it is like that, because if there was conscious energy out there, we should be able to measure it (like some kind of background radiation), and see recurring patterns in it (that could point to the idea that it contains information).

          The idea of people depicting gods is not unscientific. It is an observable event.

          You keep repeating that I want to keep the discussion limited to what I already know... I'm not quite sure I meant that. I do want to keep the discussion in the realm of the possible though... that is a limitation, but maybe not a bad one.
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        Jul 29 2011: Christophe,
        I understand you do not agree with me that there is conscious energy "out there", and that's ok.

        Yes..."depicting gods...is an observable event", and I do not choose to bring god into what I percieve to be a scientific discussion.

        I percieve you to reinforce the idea that you do not want to go beyond the concept that consciousness is produced by the brain, and I respect your choice. If you are "not quite sure" what you meant, how am I supposed to interpret what you meant? The reason I stay in the discussion with you, is because in my perception, you have said in several ways, that it doesn't make sense to discuss consciousness outside the brain, and yet, you often suggest something different. Perhaps you are exploring something that is new for you?

        Keeping the discussion in the realm of what is possible, is different for all of us, don't you think?
        Whose "possible" do you want to discuss?
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        Aug 3 2011: Shawn,
        This is as close as I can get to your comment in which you ask:
        "What is NDE/OBE?"
        Near Death Experience/Out of Body Experience

        It is a common occurence, recorded throughout history, often following a trauma, now being scientifically researched, in which the energy/spirit/consciousness leaves the body.

        I sustained a near fatal head/brain injury 21 years ago because of a horse back riding accident, had a craniotomy, and the body hovered between life and death for a couple days, kept alive with life support systems. In that time, the energy that is "me" left the body to visit another realm:>)
        • Aug 3 2011: I wondering what is the meaning of this conversation? Why we need to define consciousness? To know the truth? why or for what?
          what are we looking for?
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        Aug 4 2011: Hello Yuri,
        The "meaning" of this conversation is whatever you want it to be! We don't "need" to define consciousness, but it's fun to explore the possibilities isn't it? I also believe that the more knowledge we have about any topic, the better we can use it for ourselves and the whole. Do you have an idea of what consciousness is and/or where it comes from? Join the discussion:>)

        P.S. I just read your profile, realize you commented once earlier in this discussion, and I bet that you have a lot more to offer, considering your interests include research on cognitive science and consciousness knowlege. I also read all your posts and agree:>)
    • Jul 29 2011: Hi Christophe,not sure how far this is true but there was an evidence that someone was born without a brain but had consciousness and was alive. How is this possible, I don't know but it proved that the mind and the brain are two distinctively separate entities, with the brain belonging to material / matter and the mind/consciousness belonging to immaterial, knowledge gathered from reading materials available. I compared it to the brain as the light bulb and the mind/consciousness as the energy ever existing to be tapped to make electricity. Just my own thinking & opinion. :)
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        Jul 29 2011: I think refer to the case of the person with the very small brain due to a big amount of encephalitic fluid that pressed the brain inhibiting its development.
        http://www.tracking-system.com/news/3-tracking-system-information/761-boy-with-no-brain-amazes.html
        here is a link to the other case: http://www.unexplainedstuff.com/Mysteries-of-the-Mind/Living-without-a-Brain.html (note that the claims are contested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lorber)
        And here a third case: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,290610,00.html

        There is, as a matter of fact, brain present in this cases.

        Current explanations rely on neural plasticity: the small brain can coordinate a lot of the functions.
        But indeed, those cases are intriguing indeed. It is, however, no proof of an immaterial part of our consciousness...

        I don't know any documented cases of someone living without a brain... but maybe you can find the case you refer to?
        • Jul 29 2011: What about then those that died i.e body & organs including brain medically confirmed by doctors as dead or those in coma, but their consciousness are still active and very much "alive" or present but out of the body. Consciousness in this case is like a life continuum and it makes life never dies, so to speak. I am not 100% certain but I am quite convinced with it within my limited consciousness. Nevertheless, need to explore further for validity.
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        Jul 29 2011: Dead is dead. no consciousness can be reported... Never happened.

        So we have re-animated people and people who had a coma (but came out of it).
        They often do report things they experienced during their death or coma.
        We can't really pinpoint the accuracy of their time-experience, and ass such, the re-activation of the brain can give a surge in activity that seems to have happened way before it actually happened (I compare it with dreams: sometimes they seem very long, while only minutes or seconds passed by)

        Relying on the inner clock of such people is, as such, extremely unreliable.

        There has been, up to now, no reported case of a consciousness when no brain activity was present. But once again, maybe you do have some information on reported cases?
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          Jul 29 2011: I suggest, based on my NDE/OBE, that there is no time or space limitation with the energy/consciousness. Because we do not experience "time" in that state of being, does not necessarily mean we are "unreliable". Because we offer information that you are unfamilier with Christophe, does not warrant calling us, or the information we provide "unreliable".
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        Jul 29 2011: Concerning NDE and OBE: I think that is nothing more than brain activity giving you those experiences... I see no reason to assume that the experience makes more reference to reality than an LSD or mushroom trip.

        The phenomenon of NDE and OBE is interesting though.
        I'll stick to the skeptical (and naturalistic) approach and explanation...
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_experience
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out-of-body_experience

        Unfamiliar information does not make it unreliable.
        NDE and OBE experiences, like hallucinations, are just not reliable as a measurement of what reality is like...

        As for your energy claim: be sure to put some energy detectors in your room while having such experiences. I bet they will not spike. (If they do, I'll try to help you win the Randy million)
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          Jul 29 2011: I agree Christophe, that the experience of "LSD or mushroom trip" may create hallucinations...that is scientifically proven information I believe. I assume you are aware of the scientific research being done regarding NDE/OBEs. You can stick to YOUR reality, and I'll stick to MY reality:>)

          I do not have the experiences on a daily bases Christophe. I sustained a near fatal head/brain injury 21 years ago, and I do not care to repeat that experience again...thanks for the suggestion though. I'm not interested in "winning" anything Christophe. I'm simply offering some information.
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        Jul 29 2011: :-) Thank you Colleen for the conversation.
        (If such an injury is what it takes to have such experiences, I would not suggest anybody to attempt it)

        Just some more nit-picking:
        It's not "my reality" or "your reality", I would call it "my view of reality" or "your view of reality" or worldview. (I don't think we live in different realities)
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          Jul 29 2011: My pleasure Christophe:>)
          I would not suggest a near fatal injury as a way to explore an expanded awareness/consciousness/energy either! There are less challenging ways! LOL:>)

          I agree that we share some of the same reality in human form:>)
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        Aug 4 2011: I don't know about anyone being born without a brain ... although there are well-known cases of people being born with half a brain.

        [That was not a joke ... even though it sounded pretty funny just writing it.]

        And then there is the case of "Mike the Headless Chicken."

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_the_Headless_Chicken

        [Probably not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.]
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          Aug 4 2011: JEEEEZ Thomas...it's interesting, but it's early in the morning here...what a way to start the day!!!

          On the same note...similer note 'cause I'm not a chicken...
          My head/brain injury was to the right temporal lobe, which was so damaged, that most of it was removed, and of course, the extensive swelling caused damage to the rest of the brain as well. OH...and there was a severed artery, which caused bleeding in the brain. So, it was expected that I would lose certain functions...most "normal" functions! Remember that it was 20 years ago, and I don't think the theory that other parts of the brain pick up different functions was fully accepted in the medical model yet. I'm glad it's accepted now because I wouldn't know if I'm "normal" or not if the medical model was not in tune with what I knew!!! LOL

          Even though they told me and my family that I would never function "normally" again, somehow, I knew that I would. They call it a miracle...I call it expanded awareness. Even when I was not functioning well, I knew in the back of my mind (such as it is) that I learned certain functions before, and I believed I could learn them again...which I did...just like Mike the chicken:>)
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          Aug 4 2011: Fellow Tedsters, for those who wish to delve into the "science" of consciousness I suggest we look into the Quantum Mind Theory, according to wikipedia:

          The quantum mind or quantum consciousness hypothesis proposes that classical mechanics cannot explain consciousness, while quantum mechanical phenomena, such as quantum entanglement and superposition, may play an important part in the brain's function, and could form the basis of an explanation of consciousness. There are several quite distinct quantum mind theories ...

          http://bit.ly/QuantumMindTheory

          And from the NDE research standpoint:

          http://bit.ly/NdeFacts

          http://bit.ly/NDEresearch

          In the meantime, let's simply enjoy this great adventure of consciousness. :>)
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    Jul 17 2011: Consciousness is omnipotent, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnibenevolence. It is the underlying field from where everything arises. It is beyond time and space, it is everywhere, it is nowhere, it is the nothingness that allows matter to be and it is the quietness that allows sound to be heard. Some people call it being, God, spirit, Ein Sof, mana, and the list goes on. Call it what you want because the word doesn’t matter is just a sign, something you should not get attached to.
    I agree science can give answers for many things, but science relies on the physical realm, it believes that complex things can always be reduced to the action of their parts. Its goal is to uncover an equation that governs the fundamental particles of matter, and life. Consciousness to them is just brain chemistry.
    Then how do we know consciousness exists? We are here and we are conscious, no one can deny that.
    Where did consciousness come from? Consciousness is omnibenevolence, it is unlimited; it is infinite. It is like the ocean from which waves arise and fade back to, forever changing, but always the same. Think of the formless element water, it falls to the ground as a piece of ice in a hail storm, it then changes to a liquid drop and rolls down a gutter to add to a growing wave of water which ends up in the vast body of water which covers most of our earth, only then to be heated and evaporated as a fine gas by the sun, where it accumulates and is dropped from the sky again. The water may look to be very different in the forms it has taken, but it is has never changed; it is still the element h20.
    It is impossible to understand consciousness, as to understand it with your mind would be to limit it to human influence and perception. To know consciousness is to experience the stillness within yourself, to hear the gaps of nothingness between words, to feel the intelligence of your body sending thousands of messages every second to support your life. Who is controlling your life?
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      Jul 17 2011: QUOTE: "Consciousness is omnipotent, omniscience, omnipresence, and omnibenevolence. It is the underlying field from where everything arises."

      How do you know?
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        Jul 17 2011: How do i know? I don’t know.
        All the information is just my idea, gathered from other people’s ideas, which seem to be true to me to some extent, and feel right at a deeper level for me.

        How do you know it is not?


        How does anyone know anything to be the truth?
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          Jul 17 2011: QUOTE: "How do you know it is not?"

          My question was not meant to imply your statement is not true - or that I think or know it to be untrue.


          QUOTE: "How does anyone know anything to be the truth?"

          An excellent question.
  • Jul 16 2011: It is quite possible that "consciousness" is a basic "Field" phenomenon in the natural world, akin to electricity , Magnetism , and Gravity.. Fields share certain characteristics: they do not have borders, only concentrations of strength (as in a battery, or lighning bolt) they are basic elements out of which "material" stuff is made, like atoms, moleculels, electric motors, etc. If this is so, then a lot of mysteries about consciousness would be solved automaticallly. For instance, an electric motor does not become a useful thing because of its structure actuallly; it is merely a vehicle for electric power to be embodied. Ir ia possible tlhat "life" or consciousness or whatever one should call it, would be merely an instance of an available organic body to be energized and made operational analogous to the way the motor works: the body is a vehicle, not the "life". Another point is that electricity is neither created nor destroyed, merely changing its "concentration" temporarily. The extent is "infinite". Alll this is quite consistent not only with modern Science, but also the essential part of Hindu Philosophy about how the Universe is contructed: it's basic elements are energy, waves, and cycles. It's a lot like a dance (the Dance of Shiva) It does not need to have a "purpose", and perhaps not even a Designer (We do that , as we go along. So do all living ltlhings , of course.) This theory makes most religions more or less irrelevant, but I don't see that as an objection; on e can choose to be Spiritual, or not..
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      Jul 16 2011: I think I posted, in this thread, a few days ago these quotes, and others, all from Elmer R. Gates (1859 - 1923.)

      "Mind always requires an organism for its manifestation; science knows of no instance of mental phenomena occurring without being manifested by a living body."

      "One does not need to know what Consciousness is in order to know that it is, any more than Faraday needed to know what electricity is in order to find out what it will do."

      "Consciousness must be understood, not by calling it ‘spirit,’ ‘soul,’ or other name, but by explaining its activities as any other natural phenomenon; namely, by scientific experiment collecting fact after fact."

      "Consciousness is as much a cosmic force as gravity or motion or heat."
      • Jul 23 2011: Thoomas, thanks for the reference. This is a lot like the situation in the early 19th century, where a lot of people independently came to similar conclusions., without even knowing about the others.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jul 25 2011: We should not quickly assume some fundamental difference between the "physical world" and consciousness. Remember , the physical world is made up of light, energy , cycles, waves, electricity , and other such "non-physcial components"; it would be fair to say that atoms, molecules, etc. are no longer considered to be "Fundamental" , they way they so recently were.
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    Jul 13 2011: Consciousness doesn't come from anywhere. Can you see consciousness? NO Does consciousness exist? Yes. So that automatically throws science out of the picture. Because science deals with what you can see objectively(or feel, taste, hear or smell). So then how do we look at something without the lens of the scientific paradigm? We shift the paradigm. We say hey consciousness exists therefore we have to look through that. We have to say consciousness is the ground of awareness and the more awareness the better. So therefore consciousness is good. Where does it come from? where does anything come from? It comes from the depths of your own being.
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      Jul 13 2011: I very much appreciate your take on Consciousness, Rohan! I am very interested in the root causes of things, so I do spend time pondering over where our Consciousness originates from; but I agree that all is one, one is all, and therefore consciousness is innate to existence itself.
      • Jul 14 2011: Hi Sanyu, me too. I'm interested to know the source of pure consciousness that is innate in us. It is compared to an ocean and we are droplets of water that are part of the one ocean. When these droplets of water merge with the ocean, we become the ocean so to speak. But like the ocean where is the source of this ocean. Uuummm... :) Interesting subject.
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          Jul 14 2011: The droplets of water in the ocean are recycled...are they not? The water evaporates into the atmosphere...comes back down as precipitation...falls into the rivers and streams, which eventually run into the ocean...evaporates again into the atmosphere...

          Could it be that the energy of consciousness has a similar pattern? This is my belief, and science is beginning to recognize the energy connections...are they not?:>)
          Maybe, it is time to shift the paradigm, as Rohan insightfully suggests:>)
  • Jul 31 2011: Consciousness is a band of awareness that parellels the electromagnetic spectrum in it's architecture. It conforms to the same laws of the octave. It occurs as an internal reflection to an external field called the physical universe. It can be referenced within the spectrum of human experience and is the substance of impressions of which humans feed. It comes from the universe and yet is strengthened locally by humans who choose to align themselves with the laws which parallel is resonating quality. It is sure that humans can live entirely outside this realm. It is also true that no one is robbed of the opportunity to engage in it's fruits. To align with it is to experience being. It always was, is and comes from all and everything.
    • Jul 31 2011: Johnny Cude,

      That Johnny... was like a breath of fresh air !!

      Thanks !
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      Jul 31 2011: awesome!
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      Jul 31 2011: Well said Johnny Cude:>)
      I agree...breath of fresh air...awesome!!!

      Hi Daniel...it's johnny "cude"...not crude:>)
      Welcome back:>)
      • Jul 31 2011: Thanks Colleen !
        That was a really stupid mistake... :-( .. I corrected it..

        Nice to be back too... How are you? .. creating a cosmic consciousness among commenters !
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          Jul 31 2011: Hi Daniel,
          I percieved it to be an unintentional error:>)
          I'm good thanks, and yes, we're stiring the cosmic pot!!! LOL

          Karthik,
          Nice to see you on Ted again^_^
      • Jul 31 2011: Hi Karhik,
        The personal attack was directed to myself and myself only :-) ssshhhhh... don't tell the TED censors though... they might cancel it out.....
    • Aug 1 2011: johnny cude

      O so on to it.

      Brilliant read, clear coherent and right on the money as far as answering the question goes.
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      Aug 1 2011: If we substituted the word "God," "Allah," or the "Force" for the word "consciousness," this statement could be construed as a religious or pop-culture-inspired sentiment.

      How does using the word "consciousness" make a difference?

      The statement might be true. It sounds great.

      Mr Cude, how do you know this statement is true?
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        Aug 1 2011: Hi Thomas,
        In my perception, we can substitute god, allah, the force, spirit, soul, energy, universal consciousness, collective consciousness, and probably many more words for the energy of consciousness. Energy is the word I prefer, because that is how I saw it with my NDE/OBE, and I believe that energy connects all that is. Using any word, of course, makes a difference to each individual and how s/he uses the information. In my humble opinion, if we use the energy of consciousness in a beneficial way...to know and evolve in ourselves, while opening our hearts and minds to others and contributing to the whole...it doesn't matter what we call it:>)
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          Aug 1 2011: QUOTE: "In my humble opinion...it doesn't matter what we call it:>)"

          I share your opinion. The question comes down to what "it" is for each of us who use the possibly interchangeable terms of God, Allah, energy, etc. (I say "possibly" because some would say "their" term is the ONLY right one.)

          For you, "it" refers to an experience you had in conjunction with a NDE/OBE.

          For some, "it" might be describing an experience of nirvana or samadhi.

          For some, "it" might be a visitation from God or the archangel Gabriel; or a transcendent experience achieved through ritual and peyote; and so on.

          For some, "it" might be the pure logic of a mathematical formula explaining "everything."

          Also for some "it" might be simple speculation - a good idea based on what seems plausible, possible; or a synthesis of "Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," "Be Here Now" and "The Dancing Wu Li Masters."
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        Aug 1 2011: No Thomas...the energy of consciousness is not something I simply refer to an experience I had in conjunction with a NDE/OBE. I have felt the energy of consciousness since I was a child, and continue to feel it in every moment of my life. Yes, I agree, "it" has many meanings for different people. Again, in my humble opinion, the important thing is how we use "it".
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          Aug 1 2011: Hi Colleen,

          I was referring to your comment: "Energy is the word I prefer, because that is how I saw it with my NDE/OBE, and I believe that energy connects all that is."

          I like to find out how each of us comes to understand "it" ... Is it through experience, revelation, through speculation and so on?

          For one thing it helps me to figure out if "there is a conversation to be had."

          If someone is speculating that, "consciousness is a band of awareness that parellels the electromagnetic spectrum..." to quote Mr. Cude, well, we have some room for discussion; if he "knows" that, "consciousness is a band of awareness that parellels the electromagnetic spectrum..." it would be interesting to find out how he knows.
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          Aug 1 2011: QUOTE: "Probably the answer is, he has felt it. And hence believes it is true."

          Hi Karthik,

          There is degree of probability you are correct. I suspect most answers that relate to what you call Spirituality would be based on a feeling. Logic, if it is used at all, is used to defend and explain the feeling.

          And, I suspect many of us would assume our feelings (and how we interpret them) are true and probably, in some ways, superior to, say, science, and how it interprets the "reality" of existence and superior, too, to "other" explanations.

          But perhaps, for Mr Cude, his answer is not "spiritual?"
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        Aug 1 2011: Karthik,
        I respect your skepticism:>) When I say open the heart and mind, I'm suggesting to simply open the channels, or circuits that allow more energy to flow through us. I'm not a scientist, so I have difficulty in explaining what I experience in scientific terms. The energy of consciousness is much like electrical energy to me. When we turn the switch or circuit breaker off, the energy ceases to flow. In my opinion, we often limit the flow of energy by not being open minded/hearted to ourselves or others. For me, opening the channels, is as simple as being kind, accepting, respectful and loving to ourselves and others. It is being aware of the bigger picture of humanity, while observing and being mindful of how our "self" is operating. ^_^
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        Aug 1 2011: Dear Karthik,
        I respect your choice to define consciousness as spirituality, just as I respect your choice to be skeptical in your previous comment:>)

        I am not mixing anything up. As you well know, I've stated many times that I perceive everything to be interconnected, so in my mind and heart, consciousness has many facets. If you feel that the way I explain things is a "problem", that is a choice you make. It may be helpful for you to review the question and introduction of this topic/thread.
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        Aug 2 2011: Karthik,
        It feels to me like we agree:>)
        You say..."Science can answer how an organism, or a processor can become self-aware...". That to me is the scientific part, and what I was trying to explain with my reference to energy consciousness and energy field. I also agree with you that feelings cannot be explained with logic. I said I have difficulty explaining scientific "stuff", and that is not necessarily a "problem" in my perception because others can do it very well:>) I am not trying to "convince" you of anything Karthik...simply participating in an interesting discussion...apology accepted:>)

        Thomas,
        Sorry this response is far away from the comment I am responding to...couldn't get it any closer!
        I could have been more clear...

        Your statement Thomas:
        "For you, "it" refers to an experience you had in conjunction with a NDE/OBE".

        The NDE/OBE was not the only time I've experienced "it" (consciousness/awareness). I've experienced it on many levels throughout my life. The NDE/OBE provided quite a bit of information, which clarified (for me at least), what consciousness is, how it flows through us, and how we use it...or not! With the NDE/OBE I was aware of many more levels of consciousness, so it intensified my awareness of "it", and it was not the only time I have been aware of "it". That's the only point I was trying to clarify, and I was not very clear with my previous response:>)
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          Aug 2 2011: QUOTE: "...The NDE/OBE was not the only time I've experienced "it" (consciousness/awareness). I've experienced it on many levels throughout my life. ... I was not very clear with my previous response:>)"

          Hi Colleen,

          Thank you for the clarification. No worries.

          I did not mean to imply your experience was limited to your NDE/OBE.

          I was referencing the only information I had available to me at the time.

          The point, of course, is that each of us draws on our own experiences (whatever they are) to define "it." Although I do think some of us do not bother with a definition.
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        Aug 2 2011: I agree Thomas...each of us draws on our own experiences for definitions:>)

        Karthik,
        Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not here to convince anyone of anything...simply sharing information:>)

        I do not "constantly use "it"" in my replies, and in fact, I believe the recent comments between Thomas and I are the only times I've used "it", because that was a term Thomas used, and I was responding to his comment.

        It is good that you are not going to "argue any further" because you were arguing with yourself:>)
  • Jul 8 2011: Farrukh,

    I love contemplating consciousness. After spending a good deal of time learning about classical physics, modern physics, their relation, western and eastern ways of viewing reality, I came across a new way of seeing it.

    Did consciousness come from somewhere? Or is consciousness the ground of everything in existence? In another way--which came first? Consciousness or matter? We normally would think that there were a bunch of rocks floating around in space and SOMEHOW consciousness emerged. But consider just a few basic features of modern physics (the implications are hotly disputed, the science/experiments are widely confirmed):

    In quantum mechanics, we are unable to remove the experimenter from the experiment...as in.. when there is a conscious observer, what we call matter acts differently. This destroys "Objectivity," a huge pillar of western science. But the simple idea that mind interacts with matter is baffling.

    In relativity, space and time are relative to each observer. HUH? The seemingly immutable features of space and time can change? I don't know about you, but I cannot wrap my head around the idea that time or space can be warped. But, this is essentially saying that space and time are constructs of the mind.

    In fact, it seems everything is a construct of the mind (this can lead to ideas that lend themselves to the concept that there is just one consciousness and we are all gestaults of this but fail to realize it).

    So perhaps consciousness just is. What we are to figure out is then why? Why does time exist for us the way it does? Well, like most questions of this caliber, we arrive at The question: Why is there something rather than nothing?

    Clearly I don't have an answer for your question. I just hope I may have excited some thoughts or provided you or any reader with some new ideas to research.
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    Jul 8 2011: http://www.ted.com/conversations/3619/what_is_your_belief_regarding.html

    Although I concluded by saying I hope science can tell us, I think consciousness is in a dimension that is tangential to the sphere of science.

    It is like asking a fish to describe water: it can never give a complete description because it can never come out of water and study water "scientifically", meaning through empirical observations. Similarly, the cause and nature of consciousness is something not solvable by empirical observations, because we are points within the field of consciousness. It is "projected" onto other objects to obtain an "objective" "scientific" view. How can we, who are made of consciousness, separate it from ourselves to study it "objectively"? It is a subjective matter, to be experienced on an individual level.

    (I know this will make a lot of the "children of science" mad as hell).
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    Aug 7 2011: There is a well-know story in physics. Not too long ago, string theory was in a bit of a mess. There were at least five competing schools of thought and they were not compatible.

    Edward MItten came along and consolidated the theories into one which we now call "M Theory."

    Essentially, the five competing theories were looking at the same "thing" but from different perspectives so they were each describing facets of a single phenomenon. Witten just aligned them.

    I think a similar thing happens when we discuss "consciousness." Everyone looks at it from their own perspective, sees whatever they see, and describes that. Except, in some cases, people do not even describe what they see, they describe what they think MIGHT be there ... which is, in some cases, "nothing" ... and that adds a degree of complexity that is very difficult to integrate or align with.

    We love explanations.

    But we may have to accept that, for some things, there are no explanations.

    That does not mean we cannot gain a deep and rich understanding of, and appreciation for life and it's myriad manifestations.

    Nor do we have to stop looking for explanations. And we should NOT stop if we find an EXPLANATION we think is perfect.

    No explanation is perfect. (Think about it.)

    Regardless of where it comes from, our relationship with consciousness (or experience) is a personal one. There will NEVER be a genius who solves the consciousness "problem" for all of us anymore than there will be someone who comes along and falls in love, or drinks water for all of us. Some things we have to do alone. Or not do at all.

    In the article Lawrence provided a link for, Steven Pinker says, "I would argue that nothing gives life more purpose than the realization that every moment of consciousness is a precious and fragile gift."

    And for those who think consciousness does not exist, I would add: that nothing gives life more purpose than the realization that every moment of experience is a precious and fragile gift.
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    Aug 5 2011: Let’s imagine we are participating in an experiment: While we are being “scanned” by a machine that tells us what is happening “inside,” we are subjected to a particular stimulus – say, a special photograph.

    After looking at the photo for a few minutes, we get a read out and it says there is heightened activity in the insula, anterior cingulate, caudate nucleus, and putamen. There is a concomitant decrease in activation of the amygdala, posterior cingulate, and the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortices on the right side. In addition certain biochemical networks are activated resulting in an increase in endorphins, dopamine, and a cocktail of other “drugs.”

    This is a very good explanation of “something.”

    Do you know what it is?

    If you are a neuroscientist, you might recognize it as “love.” [And the “stimulus” mentioned in the first sentence is a picture of our beloved.]

    Based on the description, could you guess what love feels like?

    Now, tell me: What if you studied people who are "in love" for decades, and what if if you could recite this description forward, backwards, and in your sleep, if you could improve on it, add detail, correct mistakes, and, in effect, perfect “the description of love;” - what if you could explain love - would you know what love is?

    No, of course not!

    How do we “know” what love is?

    We experience it.

    Do we NEED the explanation to know what love is?

    No, we do not.

    Consciousness is a little like that.
    • Aug 5 2011: Good heavens Thomas! You are a breath away from agreeing with me that consciousness does not exist.

      If we suppose that experience is what it is like for an object to perceive then when we communicate our experience in words the general form will be "I perceive X" where 'I' is the object that perceives. In your story the "I perceive X" consists of "I perceive the emotion(s) of love" (roughly) and "I perceive the mechanisms of perception" (very roughly - because we don't actually perceive the detailed mechanism but rather model, visualise, or perhaps 'mathematise' it). There is no inconsistency or difficulty in this in principle, well, no more than there is between seeing the computer screen and the mechanism of visual perception.

      In saying "I perceive X", if we are able to deduce that X is real then we will say that X exists. If X is a thought (imagined language) we will say X does not exist - because it is imaginary. (This does not mean we don't perceive it!). Most importantly "I perceive X" does not lead to the notion "I have perceptions of X" - we are unable to say that perceptions exist at all and certainly not in the mind, brain, or anywhere else. Quite simply, there is no such thing as existent perceptions, no such thing as an existent mind, no such thing as existent consciousness - these concepts arise from a misunderstanding of perception.

      When we communicate through an exchange of words (a process that occurs in the real) we depend on there being a shared understanding of reference. We do not communicate experience directly. Our strongest and most detailed reference comes from visual experience such that we can often effectively communicate an experience through description. Our language for emotions, by contrast, is blunt because their perception is private rather than shared.
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        Aug 5 2011: Hi Lawrence,

        It is unlikely I would agree that consciousness does not exist - I might at some point because agreement and disagreement are cognitive functions; and, as we know, cognitive functions are somewhat unpredictable.

        However, for me, consciousness is (to use your framework) an "object."

        As you may have guessed, this is not my first discussion of consciousness. What I have noticed in such discussions is that, for many, the subject is "imaginary;" consciousness is perceived as something that "does not really exist" as in your worldview where consciousness is simply a word we use to describe an epiphenomenon or even less, a word we use to describe the description of an epiphenomenon. And, by the way, in many cases, I agree with you, it is.

        But just because that is true most of the time, does not mean consciousness does not exist. If it exists (and I say it does) we have to look for it where it is.

        We will not find water in a book about water; we have to look for water "where water is." (If we want to find it that is!)

        We will not find water in descriptions of water; and we will not find consciousness in descriptions of (or even, in the conventional sense, experiences of) consciousness.

        For others, when we discuss consciousness, there is a sense that it is real, a belief it is real, we could say and then, what is offered as "proof" is exactly what your are talking about which, as we know, is no proof at all.

        I have been thinking about responding to you within your framework but it is well thought out, quite dense, and requires more time than I have at the moment. Maybe on the weekend. (I have no intention of changing your mind by the way.)
        • Aug 5 2011: Thomas,
          Consciousness cannot be an object in the framework I propose. In "I perceive X" we may deduce X is an object (that it is real and exists) but this is a complex deduction. If we regard perception as mechanical it cannot make sense to say "I perceive consciousness", and it is probably wrong in any disciplined understanding of perception - because we usually think of consciousness as being consciousness OF something (even if we are not sure what). (Even consciousness of blueness is the perception of either a real or imaginary something that is blue.)
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        Aug 5 2011: If I were to simplify: Many people present the epiphenomenon you refer to as experience and call it consciousness. You, quite rightly, respond, "No, that is not consciousness."

        But to take the next step and say, "Because that which you call consciousness is not consciousness, we can assert consciousness does not exist, ignores the possibility that "they" simply might not know what consciousness is. Believing something to be true and knowing something to be true are not the same thing.

        And we can surmise that, as you say consciousness does not exist, you do not know what it is - if it exists at all (and I say it does.)
        • Aug 5 2011: Thomas,
          If consciousness does not exist then it has nothing to do with phenomena. Calling it an epiphenomenon is a contradiction.

          I discount the possibility that the assertion that consciousness does not exist arises from it being incorrectly (or differently) identified. Consciousness is identified as a conceptual error - the mistake of progressing from "I perceive X" to "I have perceptions of X". Furthermore, the problems and confusions that arise concerning it can be deduced from this error.

          When we interact in the world everything we do is in accord with the idea that we perceive it. But when we THINK about our perception we very properly distinguish the real world from our perception of the real world - it is clear to us that we have a limited perspective and that we make mistakes. So when we think about our perception, instead of saying "I perceive X" (where X is something real) as we would naturally do, we conceive that the real world is out there and that we have something about the world in ourselves. We now suppose, not that we perceive X but that we have perceptions of X. And in so doing we confound our notion of perception because we are no longer sure if we perceive X or whether we perceive our perceptions of X; we are not sure if perception is a mechanical process in the real or whether it refers to the presence of perceptions in the mind.
          Interpreting experience as "I perceive X" where 'I' is the object that perceives and perception is a process in the real means that we do not progress from "I perceive X" to "I have perceptions of X" and the distinction between the real and our perception of it is understood to be framed entirely in terms of "I perceive X" i.e. the real independent of our perception of the real is nevertheless framed in terms of our perception of the real.
          In this understanding consciousness (the notion of existent perceptions) is not misunderstood or incorrectly identified. It is positively diagnosed as non-existent.
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        Aug 5 2011: HI Lawrence,

        [I am spending more time on this than I thought]

        I understand this sentence will be problematic for you:

        "If it exists (and I say it does) we have to look for it where it is."

        "Looking for it where it is" maintains the pattern of "object that perceives" and perception (as experience) being misconstrued as consciousness.

        Language has its limitations.

        This might be a little closer to "the truth" - If consciousness exists (and I say it does) we have to look for it in a manner appropriate to the task. If we are going to leave the realm of philosophy, speculation, theory, and debate we must collapse the subject/object barrier. We will have to do this alone.
        • Aug 5 2011: Thomas,
          Regarding the location of consciousness, I have noted in another comment the fallacy of locating it at the visual viewpoint. Objects have location and it makes sense to enquire into their location. But consciousness is not an object (it is not real or existent) so it doesn't have a location. We can do things to stop the brain perceiving but this does not mean there is something called consciousness that is in the brain.

          'Experience' is a difficult concept. It does have clear links to consciousness. I use it as a floating term to indicate the subject at hand but I intend it to be as little theory-laden as possible. But once we do adopt a theory, once we leap, for example, to an understanding such as "people are objects that perceive" then we necessarily find ourselves reflecting back on what we mean by experience. If people are objects that perceive then experience comes to be regarded as a cumulation of "I perceive X" (so to speak). Consequently it would make no sense to say experience is an X in "I perceive X" i.e. we do not perceive it, and like consciousness we have no basis for saying it exists. Remember X exists if we perceive it and are able to deduce it is an object.
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        Aug 5 2011: Hi Lawrence,

        [Okay, I admit it - I'm ignoring some of the other things I could be doing now and focussing on this discussion.]

        I understand this sentence will also be problematic for you:

        "I say it does."

        Because "I" (in your worldview) is an object that perceives and as such anything it perceives, and describes based on that perception, is, to use my word, not yours, an "illusion" - not real.

        I agree.

        The challenge, of course, is that if we examine the world using ONLY your framework, it is not possible to understand the sentence, "I say it does" as anything other than meaningless babel.

        So, if we wish to explore the possibility that the sentence, "I say it does" can have real meaning, we will have to, momentarily, put your worldview aside and "imagine" what would have to be true in order for, "I say it does" to have meaning. It cannot be done from within (my understanding of) your worldview.
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          Aug 5 2011: Good point Thomas,
          We cannot explore something new and different if we stay in our own worldview, or our own method of understanding or explaining. In order to experience something differently, we need to suspend our own beliefs/perceptions and explore beyond what we already think we know.

          This is scientifically proven... I'm just having fun with myself and the use of my left hemisphere...LOL:>)
        • Aug 5 2011: Thomas,
          I see no problem in your "I say it does". You are an object that perceives. You perceive a thought. You write it. I am an object that perceives. I see the writing. We share the same language therefore I understand it to some degree.
          If people are objects that perceive then you are simply wrong to say that consciousness exists.
          If you were to divorce consciousness from the concept of perception altogether and claim it means something else, then you would be altering the word beyond recognition - it would cease to be the topic of our discussion.

          If you mean to say that assertions about private experience are correct and indisputable then I think you are wrong - because language concerns shared reference.

          One of the absurdities of traditional language is that people will say the real exists, that imaginary things don't exist but that the perceptions of imaginary things do exist. Some people use 'exist' in such an undisciplined manner that they would be hard pressed to assert that there is anything that doesn't exist.
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          Aug 6 2011: QUOTE: "Well then, I'm sorry for shouting at you Thomas. I hope you know I was joking:>)"

          Hi Colleen,

          I knew you were joking (I was playing along.)

          [Here's my "policy:" I will always assume you have good intentions. But if you (or anyone) say something I interpret as confrontational, hurtful, or aggressive, I will ask. You won't have to guess. My intention is to communicate with respect (and sometimes humour) even if I disagree with an idea we are discussing. I will not say anything to intentionally hurt you (or anyone.)]
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          Aug 6 2011: QUOTE: "Well then, I'm sorry for shouting at you Thomas. I hope you know I was joking. No I did NOT know you were dyslexic, and I apologize."

          Hi Colleen,

          There's no need for an apology. I knew you were joking and was joking right back atcha.

          See my earlier response (wherever it is ... this response hierarchy is a bit wonky.)
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        Aug 5 2011: QUOTE: "... I'm just having fun with myself and the use of my left hemisphere..."

        Is that the one that is ... um... missing?

        Well, they say the universe sprang from nothing, you know?
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          Aug 5 2011: NO...NO...NO Thomas! For goodness sake...pay attention!!!

          It is part of the RIGHT hemisphere that was....um...."adjusted":>)
          You see...that's what caused the balance. Although I was a right brain dominant person prior to the "adjustment", now I observe the left brain dominance some of the time, and it gives me pleasure...makes me smile...balance:>)

          I do not suggest this method as a "normal" way to balance the right and left hemispheres:>)

          I think/feel the universe sprang from consciousness...or...did consciousness spring from the universe...or...is it one and the same...universal consciousness?
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        Aug 5 2011: Ah, got it! I will do my best to keep it straight but I am dyslexic, you know?

        Yes, I agree, such "adjustments" should not be used in the normal course of events. Only in special cases.
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          Aug 6 2011: Well then, I'm sorry for shouting at you Thomas. I hope you know I was joking.

          No I did NOT know you were dyslexic, and I apologize.
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        Aug 5 2011: QUOTE: "Consciousness cannot be an object in the framework I propose."

        I know.
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        Aug 5 2011: Hi Lawrence,

        You say:

        QUOTE: "If consciousness does not exist then it has nothing to do with phenomena. Calling it an epiphenomenon is a contradiction."

        Okay, let's use another word or phrase for what happens in "the gap" ... how about "pseudophenomenon?" "Looping?" "Imagined consciousness?" "Interpretation of experience?"

        QUOTE: "I discount the possibility that the assertion that consciousness does not exist arises from it being incorrectly (or differently) identified."

        I know.

        I agree; what you are describing is not consciousness. It is a misconception arising from "I have perceptions of X" being (mis)interpreted as consciousness. This description, this misconception or "pseudophenomenon" is not consciousness.

        If you were describing "all that there is" (with regards to consciousness) I would have to agree with you, and accept that consciousness does not exists.

        But you are not.

        (It is obvious you think you are so it might be hard for you to accept that statement - how about we hold it as provisionally true?)

        You are correctly identifying a common misconception (that, "I have perceptions of X," can be, and is, often misinterpreted as "consciousness;") and then you are asserting that because this "imagined consciousness" is not "consciousness," then consciousness does not exists.

        Yes, what you are describing is not consciousness.

        But you are not describing "all there is."

        Consciousness is "something else."

        I do not mean my "idea" of consciousness is different than your "idea" of consciousness so "let's talk about our ideas," I mean consciousness is something other than that which you are describing.

        What you are describing (extremely well) is - in my worldview - what I sometimes call perception; sometimes, thought; or sometimes, content of awareness; and so on. And your description defines all of those brilliantly.

        None of those are consciousness. And no amount of interpretation will make them so.

        Consciousness is "something" else.
        • Aug 6 2011: Thomas
          You write of "the gap". What gap?

          You are saying that my description does not account for all there is with regards to consciousness. Do you mean I have accounted for nothing of consciousness?

          We appear to disagree about what 'consciousness' refers to, yet you say you are not claiming we have different ideas of consciousness, but rather that I have not described it. (The word 'idea' is problematic here because of its changed meaning.) You nevertheless do not attempt to clarify what consciousness is, so I guess you mean that consciousness is beyond description. It looks to me that you are making a transcendental claim and when asked to account for it will answer "I can't".

          I offer two points.

          When Berkeley observes that all perceptions are in the mind he means all experience without exception, thoughts, feelings, imaginations, sensations of the real, visceral sensations of self etc. This is a powerful unifying concept, and it accords entirely with the investigation of neuroscience into the mechanisms of perception. You appear to me to be trying to put consciousness out of reach of the concept of perception.

          Language depends upon shared reference. The acquisition of shared reference is a complex issue that concerns the development of vocabulary and concepts over historical time and it concerns our own personal learning from being a pre-lingual baby to becoming a speaker of a particular language. You appear to me to be trying to put consciousness out of reach also of shared reference. Your method of doing so seems to depend on a distinction between 'refer' and 'describe' i.e. I think you are claiming that we have the same reference when we use the word but that consciousness itself is indescribable and cannot be identified through other relationships. If I guess correctly then I would conclude that your supposed concept of consciousness is unteachable, it is unlearnable, and that you are indeed just a breath away from agreeing with me that it does not exist
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        Aug 6 2011: Hi Lawrence,

        The "gap" is a metaphor it could stand for: the temporal gap between an object that perceives (OtP), an object perceived, and when it "interprets" the perception; it could be the physical gap between the OtP and the object that is perceived; and it could be the "cognitive gap" (lacuna) we erroneously fill with the definition, "consciousness."

        QUOTE: "We appear to disagree about what 'consciousness' refers to ..."

        It would appear so: I say it exists; you say it does not.

        QUOTE: "... yet you say you are not claiming we have different ideas of consciousness, but rather that I have not described it.

        That is not what I am saying, although, having re-read the sentence, I can see it is a fair interpretation.

        What I am saying is we (obviously) have different ideas; and our ideas are relating to different things.

        Your ideas are about something that is not consciousness.

        My ideas are about something other than the thing you are describing.

        I am suggesting what you are describing - the interpretation of experience as consciousness - is not what I am referring to when I use the word "consciousness." For you, we might say consciousness is an "artifact" or whatever but it is certainly not “real.”

        I am suggesting there is "something" called consciousness and while it is (quite obviously) not contained anywhere within your paradigm it is as real as the OtP is real.

        From within your worldview, you cannot see it.

        QUOTE: I guess you mean that consciousness is beyond description. It looks to me that you are making a transcendental claim and when asked to account for it will answer "I can't."

        Not in the least. But, as you know, there is no description that could withstand the rigor of your most excellent model.

        QUOTE: "You appear to me to be trying to put consciousness out of reach also of shared reference."

        Again, not in the least, it's obvious we do not have "shared reference" ... I clearly have references that you do not share.

        And it is "teachable."
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        Aug 6 2011: Hi Lawrence,

        Here's a little afterthought:

        If you were to stray outside of your model and come to understand what I refer to when I use the word “consciousness,” your model will not collapse; it will still describe exactly what it is describing now.
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    Aug 4 2011: Hi Christopher Cop

    I understand that science has not really defined these words so we may very well be talking right past one another.

    As far as quantum-quakery is concerned, I refuse to be bulled by Richard Dawkins or anyone into rejecting a very fruitful field of exploration. http://tiny.cc/tizwv Your comment sounded to me like a typical left brain biased "believer" in scientism. Do you like that label? If not then you should consider not labeling others.

    The fact is we have searched the brain for the source of consciousness and come up with nothing. We have looked all over the body too. (using Newtonian mechanical cause-effect model physics is something we are very good at by now)

    Those physicists with the courage to endure the bitching-out of anal left-brain peers now look to the source of consciousness in those quantum fields. Consciousness has to be a property of matter itself at a very subtle level of "reality."
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    Jul 31 2011: consciousness - the unity of our five senses: taste, smell, hearing, sight, touch, through which we perceive the world and describe it. You'll say that animals have such feelings, too. Yes, but their brains do not have a descriptive quality, which is ours. We can describe the place with us through the events of the question. So consciousness - I think this is a descriptive process of our brain. It is taken by intuition (a combination of the five senses) and accumulated knowledge. In general, I believe that consciousness is our relationship with the cosmos, and the great minds of humanity have always paid attention to the cosmic processes.
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      Jul 31 2011: Ekaterina,
      I agree that consciousness includes our senses, which gives us information to determine how we perceive and describe the world, and I also agree that the consciousness is part of the descriptive process of the brain, including intuition and accumulated knowledge. How then, in your perception, does the consciousness connect us with the cosmos?

      My own perception, is that consciousness is similar to an energy field that flows through the body, embracing/including everything you describe above and more:>)
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        Jul 31 2011: You can draw an analogy "consciousness - is the mind". But mind - is already cosmic itself. The only creature on planet earth that has a mind - a man, all the rest have just instinct. The energy field around the body - this is not the only field,there is also a field of mental energy, there is a field of memory - a torsion field, this field is the noosphere. So many fields that are stronger than the other one. And only a person can read information from a torsion field. Also, many esoteric say that human hair - this antenna, the connection to the cosmos. And I agree with that.
  • Jul 30 2011: What agreat question ! I start from this perspective:

    In the beginning the was only let's say "The One". The one was conciousness itself, awareness of awareness. the I AM and the I AM being the Universe of Infinite Potential, the Field of all Possibilities. One might call this the singularity, or absolute perfection, all thing in perfect balance. What if that is all there ever was, is or will be? Then maybe we are just a single point of the universal conciousness manifest into this physical universe as bodys with minds and conciousness which we seem to have a dificult time searating or distinguishing the difference. It seems to me that we suffer in this physical life and universe from separation anxiety continuously being told of our uniqueness, when maybe the only thing that truly separates us is manifesting into this universe as a single point of view and not knowing that we are truly part of The One / The I AM.
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      Jul 31 2011: Well said C. Terry!
      I think we have a difficult time as humans because we don't remember that we are "one" or why we're here. Western cultures especially, have been distracted by materialistic life styles, which often prevents us from knowing our "self". I believe this is what people are searching for, and it's right there/here...in our consciousness:>)
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          Aug 3 2011: Hi Eric,
          1. Don't know for sure:>)
          2. I believe consciousness energy enters a body at the moment human life begins.
          3. I can share my experience for this one:>)
          I was unconscious in ICU after a near fatal head/brain injury and craniotomy. The body/brain was unconscious according to the medical model, and kept alive on life support systems.
          The only thing that was "switched off" for me, was my ability to communicate on a human level. That "feature", of my brain/computer was disabled because of the damage to the brain.
          On another level, I was MORE conscious of the big picture. I could see my body on the bed in ICU, and although it was not a pretty sight, I was detached from it emotionally. I could sense the thoughts and feelings of people in the room (an expanded sense of ESP/intuition), and I saw our world as a very small part of the whole. This life form is important while our consciousness energy is in the body, and there is more.
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          Aug 4 2011: 1. If consciousness is a property of matter then it has to be at the subatomic level. Therefore, rocks have potential consciousness because they are made out of atoms. However, the rock does not have a complex nervous system. It has no sensory systems at all that. So the potential for consciousness cannot be "activated." A rock is not alive, it cannot perceive, sense, think, experience or know. Therefore, it has no form of intelligence.

          2. Every cell of a foetus is made out of living cells that are making constant choices "yes to this, no to that". Therefore, consciousness is always within the foetus, and as the foetus develops the capacity to use its brain, its senses, its nervous system and body, the consciousness expands into the full potential available at any given moment. That full potential is defined by physics.

          3. When we go to sleep, we gradually shut down different parts of the brain like turning off groups of light switches in a large office building. But even when we are wide awake, we shut down parts of the brain. For example, when you are driving and suddenly realize you are almost home because you have been lost in thought while some other part of you drove the car (or washed the dishes etc).

          Parts of a person's brain have shut down in an unconscious person -- no two cases are identical. Our autonomic nervous system that keeps the heart and the respiration etc. is about as conscious as a fish or a plant. It can respond at a basic level (to light, for example) but it cannot perform an complex cognitive processes.
  • Jul 25 2011: This is a fascinating question. I have not yet had a chance to read other's comments yet, so I am not commenting on anything other than the question at hand.

    I am a physician and consider myself a scientist, but I have never seen anything in an experimental sense that explains consciousness, yet we all know, without question, that it exists. In my opinion, it is one of the most irrefutable proofs of a Creator. I believe consciousness is conferred by that Being and that everything does have consciousness at its own level. To one more evolved, e.g. a human, the consciousness of a less evolved being (e.g. a plant) is non-existent, but when that being looks at another of its own kind, it sees consciousness at its own level of comprehension. I believe the same exists for minerals and animals. I also believe that although we exist at the top of the evolutionary chain on the material plane, there are other planes that are not visible to our 5 senses and we are at the beginning of the evolutionary chain in those realms. We receive intimations of these realms in visions and dreams (though not all visions and dreams are of this nature) and I believe we innately know of their existence (though we work hard to ignore that feeling).

    I would venture further to say that it is the purpose of our existence to explore this very questions, answer it and evolve further into the realms we cannot see, hear, smell, taste or touch.

    I know this is very controversial, but I put it out there with the true intent of sharing, for anyone to consider.

    Thanks for reading this.
    • Jul 26 2011: "I have never seen anything in an experimental sense that explains consciousness, yet we all know, without question, that it exists."

      On the contrary, it is my view that saying mind and consciousness exist is a poor way to comprehend experience.

      Objects exist. This is what we primarily mean by the word 'exist'. And what we mean is that objects persist regardless of whether we are perceiving them or not. It is difficult to get from the assertion that objects exist to the assertion that consciousness exists.

      It is my view that we correctly state the relationship between experience and the real by positing that we are objects that perceive. In this understanding the self is an object, the process of perception occurs in the real, and the self's knowledge of objects (and therefore itself) is mediated and uncertain. In this understand I would say that I perceive an object whereas you would say you have consciousness of it or that you have perceptions of it in your mind. Your understanding produces unfathomable existences that have an unfathomable relationship to the real.

      So when Descartes says 'I perceive therefore I exist' I agree because I understand people to be objects that perceive (and objects exist) whereas you agree because you think perceptions exist. You take the statement, as Descartes did, to be unquestionably true, whereas I regard it as an interpretation of experience.
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    Jul 18 2011: I do not necessarily believe that consciousness is an illusion of our own minds, I believe that there is a default form of consciousness that we experience. This default consciousness is the one that we are experiencing at this very moment; however I believe that we can escape the default consciousness and create our own within our minds. Even when we create a new form of consciousness, it does not mean that the default consciousness has disappeared it just becomes dormant, until we lose track of our own consciousness and the default one to the extent that we believe our own consciousness is the real one. Then again who is to say what is and what isn't reality. In conclusion we all experience the same consciousness; however we can escape it.
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      Jul 18 2011: Good point Conner!
      I agree with what you wrote, and I explain it in a different way. We have several layers/levels of consciousness, and can use them, or be aware of different levels at different times. Very much like a computer, where we can have different programs running or turned off at different times. My perception is that an energy (server) runs through us, and provides the "power" to run our body/mind computer. I agree that we all experience the same consciousness/energy, and we can use it in various ways:>)
  • Jul 16 2011: Consciousness is the big picture. But it is made of tiny individual spots of individual color. Each spot is governed by it's own rules which it learned during your lifetime. These individual spots move about and sometimes their color spreads to other spots. If enough spots change, your consciousness, your behavior will change. Watch as someone gets angry and you can see the little spots changing color until the whole picture is mostly red.

    What happens if you erase some of the spots. Then the picture becomes simpler more childish and easier to influence. The funny thing is consciousness is not fixed. You may add more spots and your consciousness will expand. Change the input and your consciousness adapts.

    Consciousness is not one entity it a hive of ants working together. This is the reason it is an unsolved mystery. People have been looking for the seat of consciousness in the brain for too long. It is the interplay of different regions of the brain, the timing and clarity of signals that gives rise to consciousness. Even delaying the time for a signal from one part of the brain to reach another part can cause consciousness to be derailed.

    Don't look for consciousness in a group of cells. It is in the melody they sing.
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      Jul 16 2011: jaeyun..wise and compelling.

      .reminds me abit of the flower garland scool of buddhism..of the idea of infinite interpenetration

      .may I ask what informs your insight?

      your words, your thoughts resonate with my own sense of consciousness .my own experience ..that it is flowing, dynamic, constantly changing, that we ourselves are part of what changes consciosnessand of how consciousness emanates.
      • Jul 17 2011: I'm sorry but it is not insight. It is the logical extension of brain research. The reason why it is similar to the idea in the school of Buddhism, is because Buddhists were smart. They reflected on their own thought patterns, they meditated, they could see how consciousness arouse in their own brains. Meditation is just making those spots go quiet and when you wake up you can feel the spots waking up and activating. They merely lacked the scientific framework to express their knowledge. Have you seen the picture of brain pathways. The work on recording the signals from neurons from both monkeys and humans, the nearly real-time MRI data from patients. People with brain damage or even people with half a brain missing. Experiments involving a third arm. They all point to the same thing and it is this picture of consciousness. I might still be wrong of course but I live and learn.
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          Jul 17 2011: To say consciousness arises from the Brian, is to localize it, but it is beyond space, and is unlimited. So how can it arise from brain or mind? 

          Buddhists do not believe that conscious arises from mind it is beyond mind, the goal of meditation is to contact being, it is to transcend to where thought is created, from pure consciousness. 

          Unfortunately science is yet to prove consciousness being brain chemistry, it is just a hypothesis, a guess. Science can not explain it. Ask science where thoughts arise from?
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    Jul 10 2011: Farrukh, here is the excerpt from Dr. Pim van Lommel's research - ABOUT THE CONTINUITY OF OUR CONSCIOUSNESS

    1. Introduction 2. About Death 3. Scientific Research on Near Death Experience

    4. Some typical elements of NDE (4.5.) The Disappearance of Fear of Death. Nearly all people who have experienced an NDE lose their fear of death. This is due to the realization that there is a continuation of consciousness, even when you have been declared dead by bystanders or even by doctors. You are separated from the lifeless body, retaining the ability of perception...

    5. Neurophysiology In Cardiac Arrest 6. Neurophysiology In A Normal Functioning Brain

    7. Quantum Mechanics and the Brain. ... In people with an NDE the functional receiving capacity seems to be permanently enhanced. When you compare this with a TV set, you receive not only Channel 1, the transmission of your personal consciousness, but simultaneously Channels 2, 3 and 4 with aspects of consciousness of others.

    8. Role of DNA 9. Analogy of worldwide communication.

    10. Conclusion. ... There are still more questions than answers, but, based on the aforementioned theoretical aspects of the obviously experienced continuity of our consciousness, we finally should consider the possibility that death, like birth, may well be a mere passing from one state of consciousness to another... http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel_consciousness.htm

    What do you think about it?
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      Jul 10 2011: I think this it is logical for consciousness to keep existing. This is also very likely to be true.
      • Jul 11 2011: I think this is very likely to be true that the so called consciousness is permanent and is existing while everything in this universe or physical world is impermanent and evolving. Could it be a state of mind or another dimension or a kind of pure consciousness that can only be experienced by the mind that is totally pure and taintless?
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      Jul 17 2011: Joe,
      I agree with the information you provided above. With my own NDE/OBE and reading about the experiences of hundreds of other people, common threads include loss of fear of death, seperation from the body, and although sometimes unconscious according to the medical model, we experienced an expanded consciousness on other levels.

      When I talk about my experience, I also use the example of a radio being able to pick up one channel, or many channels. If we keep the radio on one channel all the time, the information we get will be similar all the time. If we turn our "radio" to different channels, the information will often be different as well. Opening up many different channels seems to be another common occurance with the NDE/OBE. Personally, I don't think we need to have a traumatic experience to attain this state of being. With mindfulness, we can open many of the channels that are available to us. We simply need to open the mind and heart to the possibilities. I agree that death, like birth, is a passing from one state of consciousness to another.

      Carole,
      I agree that there are many dimensions of consciousness. I do not agree that it is only experienced by the mind that is "totally pure and taintless". Consciousness, in my perception, is experienced by all humans, regardless of the condition of, or information in his/her brain/mind. The "state of mind" can contribute to the expansion and awareness of consciousness. In my perception, consciousness is part of an energy that flows through the body and mind.
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    Jul 8 2011: Individually we are all conscious. I am conscious and I can feel and think as the ONLY PERSON in the world, but so does all of you. We find meaning and relevance of this reality in our belief systems as David noted. But we may not fully understand it because as Abriham said, consciousness is in a dimension that is beyond the sphere of science. Or as Corey said, this could all be a part of the vivid dream a potato in another dimension is having. Or maybe we in a matrix-like situation (the movie) where we can wake up and maybe see our eternal existence, or not?

    What will be the implications if we can create AI one day like Chris Cop and Jim has noted as a possibility? Will our humanism in the future or maybe our humanism today hinges on this possibility therefore we value life as nothing more than a mixture of elements functioning in quantum science?

    As Jared said, I too don't have a clear scientific answer for this question and the ultimate question might as well be - Why is there something rather than nothing? Does what is most unknown today as dark matter and dark energy has anything to do with consciousness?

    In the meantime what I think that matters today is the power of our consciousness to transform our world and just let everybody enjoy life. Consciousness being both the power of our minds to understand and the power of our hearts to love, hope and trust. It's really our great adventure to bring happiness to ourselves and to others and we may or may not bring into eternity one day, but we can surely bring it upon ourselves today.
  • Jul 8 2011: It's about beliefs.
    If you are atheist, consciousness comes from matter (matter before).
    If you are not an atheist, consciousness "exists" without matter (consciousness before).

    Personally, after rejecting Religion as an ideology and as an institution (not as a guide to wisdom), Science gave me the intimate conviction that order even in tremendous complexity is organized...

    So, it's why I'm still very interested in how Science can explain Near Death Experience (NDE) if "she" is not ideologically afraid...
  • Jul 8 2011: PS.

    I would like to add something to my post. Please excuse my sloppy and roundabout writing.

    But in conclusion, I am led to believe that perhaps consciousness precedes matter. An interesting area of science into which to look is in the past century when Einstein said matter is just "mind stuff." The smaller and smaller we get, it seems that its just processes of the mind.
  • Jul 7 2011: Here are some of my favorite theories: (1) Consciousness is a mental construct created to give us a sense of identity, and when we die... it dies. Our consciousness represents the unique way our mind operates... even though we are cellularly overturned after so many years our consciousness helps us retain our sense of identity to continue functioning properly. (2) (A little far-fetched, I know...) Consciousness has always existed at the quantum level. It is everywhere, it exists in all matter. The human brain acts as a singular host for this consciousness. When we die, our consciousness dissolves back into the whole. (3) It is a part of an everlasting soul whose existence will transcend our physical bodies after death.
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    Aug 6 2011: As this conversation is ending soon, I would like to say thank you for everyone who has been part of it. Even if you did not comment, thank you for just reading the question itself.
    Thank you!
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      Aug 6 2011: Dear Farrukh,
      You brought forth a very interesting topic...thank you for that:>)
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      Aug 7 2011: Hi Farrukh,

      Would you be willing to share with us what you have learned as a result of your inquiry?
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    Aug 4 2011: Tangent Alert! Tangent Alert! Tangent Alert!

    I just remembered one of the things I liked about being at school.

    I didn't like the classes very much - they were, for the most part, boring.

    Most of the teachers were ... bland.

    The social dynamics were ... polarizing.

    But I loved talking with people who were learning things ... not teaching things; learning things.

    ----------------------

    This concludes the tangent. Resume the normal conversation.
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    Aug 3 2011: Re: Christopher Cop's three points --
    1) Consciousness is not external to our brain (no living brain, no consciousness measurable)
    2) Consciousness did not arise sudden (it evolved)
    3) Consciousness is not either/or (there are multiple levels, gradations of consciousness)
    I strongly disagree with all 3. Re point #1: Plants have no brain and yet they are clearly conscious: http://tiny.cc/vuw02 Likewise, cells in the body make choices and know an enemy from a friend, so to speak.
    Re point #2: The interesting thing about consciousness is that it does NOT evolve. It does not change at all. What changes is the sophistication of the nervous system housing the consciousness. Consciousness works in a nervous system like electricity works on appliances, depending how they are built you get its distinct flavor. Electricity in the refrigerator makes things cold, electricity in a toaster makes things hot. But it is the SAME electricity doing it. Likewise with consciousness, the consciousness of a frog can only work from the degree of sophistication of a frog's nervous system. A human nervous system is far more refined. Re #3: It is due to the nervous system and not the consciousness that we see gradations and differences. The consciousness itself never changes. Consciousness permeates all living things, probably at the quantum level.
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      Aug 3 2011: Susan Sayler says, "Plants have no brain and yet they are clearly conscious..."

      Christophe Cop says, "no living brain, no consciousness measurable."

      Regular readers will probably notice a pattern here (any second now.)

      Do either of you KNOW what consciousness is?

      Do you know if the person you are talking to knows what consciousness is?

      Do you know if you are describing "different things" when you use the word "consciousness?"
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      Aug 3 2011: Hi Susan,

      You say,

      QUOTE: "...Plants have no brain and yet they are clearly conscious..."

      It sort of depends on how we use the word consciousness but putting that aside for a moment, I think you will like the story of the acacia tree.

      Giraffes eat acacia tree leaves. Some folks who had a lot of time on their hands noticed that they would eat "a lot of leaves" in a particular location and almost none in others. There were lots of possible explanations but they decided to "figure out why." (Don't ask me how but eventually they did.)

      It turns out that when the giraffe start eating the leaves of a particular tree, it "reacts;" it starts to produce a "pheromone" which is carried on the wind to other acacia trees. They react to the pheromone and start to produce something that makes their leaves taste bitter and the giraffe don't like them.

      Cool, huh?
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        Aug 4 2011: Very cool Thomas...that is proof!!!

        Here's another interesting thing I've noticed in the gardens over the years...
        Certain kinds of weeds will grow next to perrenials that look very similar. Is this a conscious effort to survive? Do they "know" that I may not recognize them because they are so much like the plants I want to keep and nurture?
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          Aug 4 2011: Well, it is proof of "something."

          The phenomenon could be explained (quite well) by evolution ... and, in theory, something similar could be happening in a parallel universe with no "sentient" beings in it to be aware of it on any level.

          It could also be explained by postulating a degree (either high or low) of consciousness.
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        Aug 4 2011: very very cool!!!!!
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        Aug 4 2011: HI Thomas,
        I agree, semantics is an issue. The word comes from the Greek: con=with scious=knowledge; and its earliest use was to imply self-referential consciousness: "to know that you know".
        From metaphysics, consciousness is the animating principle of life and this is the way I use the word (separate from perception, awareness, mind, attention, thinking) so "life" and "consciousness" are interchangeable. The reason I believe this is so is because in order for life to remain alive, every part of that life form has to be making conscious decisions. By conscious decisions it is choosing in the moment "this and not that". Furthermore, I believe this is the definition of evolution; the choosing of this and not that.
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          Aug 4 2011: In haste:

          A few weeks ago, I coined a word for this: "to know that you know:"

          It's: "gnovidya." From Proto-Indo-Euopean, "gno," from which we get "gnosis;" and the Sanskrit, "vidya" meaning knowledge, learning and science.

          So, gnovidya: knowing that you know or the state of knowing.
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          Aug 4 2011: Any shamanic practitioners anybody knows? I believe it is true what Thomas implies, we all mean something different and we mean a collection of 'thoughts' when we talk about ourselves.

          Edmund Husserl was in search his whole life to the essence of thought, in the end - he had more time than me to contemplate on it - he had to make a closing statement he will not KNOW the answer as he, as long as he lives, is within thought/consciousness.

          I enjoy the word 'gnovidya', it has a sparkle in 'consciousness' ;).

          Maybe we do need a word for our 'new understanding of our part/anchor in 'unity consciousness'.

          Where did you coin it Thomas, did it land?
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      Aug 4 2011: I think saying a plant has consciousness implies that consciousness is a very primitive and makes it almost equal to "whenever an organism responds to a changing environment, it is conscious".

      I think that limits the idea of consciousness somewhat, though it can be seen as the thing that eventually led to more and more responsiveness, which finally turns out to be what we can call consciousness...

      So I clearly see you use another definition of consciousness... as such you say that other things evolve, not the consciousness as such... I take the evolving part as part of what consciousness is.

      About the quantum level: suddenly I have the feeling you stepped into the quantum-quackery trap.
      Your claim about the permeation of consciousness, to me, seems like total bullocks. There is no evidence for it whatsoever...
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        Aug 4 2011: Christophe,
        YOUR theory that consciousness is ONLY produced by the brain from birth to death is the limiting one! Remember how you said consciousness has many different levels? And above, you say "I take the evolving part as part of what consciousness is"....YES!!!

        I agree that consciousness is "primitive"...original...primary...elemental...natural...belonging to or characteristic of an early stage of development...YES!!!

        And in my humble opinion...connects everything that is:>)
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    Aug 3 2011: My suspicion is that consciousness is a "universal" thing that all conscious things partake of. A metaphor might be electricity. A brain does not make consciousness anymore than a toaster or refrigerator makes electricity. It is not consciousness that determines the nature and quality of one's perception or intelligence, but rather the refinement of one's nervous system. Consciousness of always the same no matter what conscious thing is being considered (including plants and cells within the body). In this way, if you could somehow take my consciousness and insert it into a frog, I would no longer be able to think or feel like a human, I would only have the capacity that the frog's nervous system allowed. This is a Buddhist way of looking at it, but when you considered how devoted they have been to studying consciousnesses I think it is worthwhile to consider their conclusions.
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    Aug 1 2011: Farrukh Yakubov, the consciouness dont come from any where. Its already created with the very same human being. Philosophy, science, or any theories could said what they want to provide "explanations" but you said a word "mystery"
    Mystery means what cant be expressed with words. Came from ancient greek "misthos" without words or incapable to be talked."
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    Jul 31 2011: Very nice talks Wayne, thanks!
    I agree and have no doubt that animals have their evolution of the mind, and sometimes we certainly admire their organized actions and decisions. But I'm talking about the being at this moment of time.
    Why it occurred to him to intervene in natural processes through science, like genetics, nanotechnology, chemistry, etc. What is it?
    On this occasion, there are remarkable words of the Russian scientist Evdokiya Marchenko, "On the planet Earth for a long time man grows up and finally he became so reasonable that he was able to intervene in natural processes. Until that time the person just used the fruits of these lands, his mind itself didn't develop. Passed the stage of the description and transfer the experience for the body's development. As soon as the man crossed a certain border and began to structure natural process , it's time to talk about the mind itself. Before that the man just kept on the nature,for example, the bird - by plain, cold - by fridge, legs - by car, it was just acceleration. He also domesticated animals, getting them from food.,,"
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    Jul 31 2011: Hello everyONE:

    Forgive my eagerness to post in this string but i have so many theories seeking your insights in regards to these related topics...

    ....all known life forms including our individual selves can be defined in terms of myriad and incredibly complex yet for the most part harmonious smaller life forms, dwelling in relative symbiosis while opportunistically manipulating all manner of resources and in their own unique ways contributing to those organs functions and structures (i.e. neurons in your brain! ) that give 'higher' organisms form and allow them as unique collectives to perform those actions necessary to the continued viability of those 'wholes' we in our case call our 'conscious person'.

    ...once again form and function... herein lies my theories about the material meaning of life. Just crazy enough?

    Looking eagerly forward to you insights.

    Cheers.
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        Jul 31 2011: Hello Karthik.
        I once saw a video of an octopus navigating a semitransparent maze full of trap doors. All this in order to find and UNSCREW a jar of fish or something then quickly consume its prize.

        Pretty amazing and a little creepy. It all took about 2 minutes.

        Thanks for the leads.

        Cheers.
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          Jul 31 2011: Wayne, Karthik, Ekaterina,
          Interesting thread you've got going here:>)

          Wayne, your story about the octopus reminds me of another scene with an octopus...
          While diving one night, we came upon an octopus who was hanging out on a coral reef. I was with divers who had underwater video equipment and lights, so we followed the octopus at a respectable distance. The lights, however, apparently caused concern for the octopus, and as he slithered along the reef, he changed all colors of the rainbow to try to blend in with the reef. It seemed that when he realized we were not going to go away,
          and we were not going to hurt him, he "sat" on the top of the coral reef and seemed to cross his legs into a comfortable position and just looked at us! He could have swam off into the ocean at any time, but he "hung out" with us:>) I have this on film, so it's fun to revisit it:>)

          I saw an interesting documentary about dogs a few months ago, in which the ending question was...maybe dogs are more intelligent than humans? One of the interesting factors, is that wolves and foxes, which they think dogs are evolved from, have a very limited vocabulary, while domesticated dogs are evolving with more and more vocabulary and understanding all the time. The theory is that dogs are learning how to "speak" to humans. It is not unrealistic to think/feel that consciousness reaches much farther than the human brain, and science is beginning to be consciously aware of this fact:>)
          Are we listening?
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          Aug 1 2011: Colleen,

          I think it's in the UK, there is a border-collie named Chaser, that "knows" over 1000 words.

          It is common for dogs (especially collies) to have vocabularies of 300 or more words.

          I once told my friend's spaniel, "Chico," to "Go get your Santa!" ["Santa" was a plush chew toy shaped like Santa Claus.]

          Chico looked at me, cocked his head to the right, slowly turned around, walked upstairs to the bedroom, and came back down with "Santa" in his mouth.
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          Aug 1 2011: Yes Thomas...
          The border-collie you speak of was featured in the documentary, along with lots of other dogs, researchers and scientists who have been studying the evolution of dogs for many years:>)
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    Jul 31 2011: Breath, Eat, Sleep, Stasis, Eliminate, Reproduce.

    ALL living things in some way do these and every one of these 'habits/instincts' is dependent on important inter-species correlations, (some correlations are essential to those parts of the ecosystem which support human life), i.e. what trees eliminate (breath out) and produce as fruit (reproduction), we breath in to catalyze internal functions and ingest to fuel our flesh etc...

    I am of the opinion that interfering negatively with any one of the six (i.e. pollution) grievously limits the viability of any species of organism.

    As it is our senses (formed organs) that facilitate the above (functions) I believe a deeper understanding of the importance of these correlation's may also help us (re)define consciousness.

    As a species we have in greatest numbers moved away from any semblance of dwelling harmoniously within our environment. All our Greatest societies are built on short sighted principles and "It is only common sense that the idea of endorsing an economy, whose policies, goods and services promote the extinction of its benefactors, is foolish, or at least bad for business."

    I think it would be the wisest use of our intellects to focus some energy on realigning our cultures to work with our evolving ecosystem, not as cancers to be eliminated but as proper supportive custodians.
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    Jul 31 2011: ...function follows form follows function...it is all related.

    If we agree that there is a pattern (it has form) then it must follow that there is an ends to its means (it has function).

    It is in the best interest of our species and supporting ecosystem that we work to globally sustain our adaptability or ability to evolve.

    Thomas recently reminded us that the answer to what we seek resides within us all. the best way, i think, to promote longevity much less immortality is to understand, accept and work with the function of our form.

    what is it we are built to do and how can we do it more effectively while respecting environmental stressors.

    If i understood johnny correctly, defining our function may contribute positively to our ability to resonate 'harmoniously' with THOSE band widths of awareness all conscious entities share.

    it is the other half of the equation and will help us, i think, define our accountability.
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    Jul 31 2011: I feel we can or may even already have created a conscious entity.

    Put yourself in the place of a single cell in your body and try and explain to it what the human body is as a whole. You'd say it is a composition of that cell and all of the cells it knows working together to sustain themselves and a community(perhaps an organ).

    This community works along with other communities to help sustain themselves and another even bigger community or province(an organ system).

    And again these provinces work along with others to sustain themselves and their country(an organism).


    It seems conceptually apparent that, if we look at ourselves as being in the place of a cell we are microscopic entity sustaining the life of a much greater and possibly even "conscious" being.

    A talk that got me thinking about this came from Geoffrey West

    http://www.ted.com/talks/geoffrey_west_the_surprising_math_of_cities_and_corporations.html
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      Jul 31 2011: Thank you for the link Jesse. Curious coincidence but I have had my own theory and wondered at this before. I posted the following in another string:

      "...all known life forms including our individual selves can be defined in terms of myriad and incredibly complex yet for the most part harmonious smaller forms of life, dwelling in relative symbiosis while opportunistically manipulating all manner of resources and in their own unique ways contributing to those organs functions and structures that give us form and allow us as unique collectives to perform those actions necessary to the continued viability of the whole we in our case call our person.

      By extension would it be unreasonable that we might consider the big bang as the event which birthed our known universe a super-organism on another order of existence in which we on a relative and micro cosmic level dwell unaware?

      Just putting it out there."

      If by chance there is any semblance of truth to this, what might our level of accountability be to the whole.
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        Jul 31 2011: Well there already is a considerable level of truth to this. Studies in fractals and nature support it considerably. As to our measure of accountability that is a philosophical conundrum requires it's own separate topic.
  • Jul 30 2011: Colleen: Thanks for the kind words. As one interested in consciousness as a basic Field in the Universe Theory, you might be interested in some recent developments in biology , having to do with ants (and others, no doubt). E.O. Wilson is a highly respected scientist interested in Ants, and I gather has come up with what sounds to me like a logical progession of this idea: that it is not enough to consider an ant colony as a collection of individuals, but as an organism in its own right. I bellive he calls it "SuperOrgansism". This fits right in with an extension of the Collective Uncounsciou Idea. It will no doubt be discovered that this is a general rule, some day. I think our society is suffering greatly from the probably mistaken idea that the Sacred Individual is a basic unit of society , as the Greeks thought about atoms, and that therefore, to put it bluntly, "selfishness" is not only a virtue, but" God's Plan". Maybe not.
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      Jul 31 2011: Shawn,
      I've heard about Wilson's work, and you don't have to convince me that we are all connected. In my mind and heart, it is already a "general rule" and has been since I was a child. That's all we have to do, is be aware in every moment...look and really see, listen and really hear...observe:>)
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    Jul 29 2011: Consciousness is an awareness of self, a realization that you are an individual and for the first time you can recognize self and evaluate your impact on your surroundings. It's a wonderful thing to watch someone's awakening to their new understanding of what this new level of perception really is. Before this time all there had been was sensory inputs to the brain that required only direct and logical trained responses, then something happens and the individual awakens to a brand new reality. This reality or consciousness is different for everyone and helps to form our personalities and being. I believe it is safe to say that the inputs to our brain in the formative years had little to do with our awakening, rather I believe it is the maturity of the mind, the readiness of it to accept this transformation that determines when we become conscious. I mean you could input the same data to a dog or monkey as one might to a tot, but does the dog or monkey ever become conscious? And in out technological age and super computers, can we input enough data (and what data) to make the computer conscious?
    I believe that this is the very reason some people experience other realities, their minds have been prepared for the experience. Some may deliberately induce this next level of consciousness, while others experience it in trauma, brain injury, etc.
    Consciousness doesn't come from anywhere (it is a resource) and it does not evolve, it is in everyone waiting to be recognized so that we may be aware of self and space and time. Time and space does not begin at the Big Bang individually speaking but rather at the instant we become conscious.
    Isn't it interesting that we become conscious, but for what reason, to what end. It is not a survival tool, the animals survive. So it is not an evolutionary requirement, yet we have this tool that serves to help us identify and question self.
    Fascinating.
  • Jul 27 2011: Consciousness and awareness are different words for the same state, unless of course someone creates a theoretical construct that arbitrarily and rigidly defines terms. The degree of self-consciousness is a good measure of intelligence, but located where it is in the frontal lobes, it can also plague the mind. Self awareness is regarded as closer to "enlightenment" whereas self-consciousness can be a hang-up. It also leads to self criticism and restraint, a tortuous path which in later life can lead to a keen critical faculty applied to everything around you, to the world at large.

    Consciousness is a grand mix of all five senses plus the sixth sense, that of memory and what you know. It all comes together in a luxurious world inside the head. An apt analogy would be stereo vision, a depth sensation that requires two eyes. It's real and you're there! Add more senses into the blend, plus life experience, plus individual disposition and personality, and you've got a rich world of consciousness within.

    All the Best, Emmett Chapman.
  • Jul 26 2011: My guess would be the brain.
  • Jul 25 2011: There seems to be a reluctance to entrust Science with anything more than "factual" inputs on all this. But that is not really true of Science: one of the most creative parts of it is the production of theories; useful tools or hints. Look at Electricity: we still "dont't know what it is", as many have pointed out, but our knowledge about it is incredible. That is probably a sign that it its a basic "Field" type of thing which is near the Axiom level in Science, i.e. "unprovable". It is entirelly possible lhat a theory of consciousness could be worked out which would serve a similar role . But it won't be along the lines of :Individula Souls or such; that idea raises more un=testable questions than it answers. It also won't come from Brain biology , or AI onstructs, although these are of course very valuable. A Field theory of consciousness would be in tune with the Hindu ideas of reality, as well as consistent with the "Collective Unconscious"; it would disposre in advance of a host of puzzling contradictions and inconsistencies in our thinking about the subject. I would recommend Alan Watts' "the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are" as a very clear, and entertaining, discussion about some of this.
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    Jul 23 2011: I work in the field of AI and computational neuroscience; Consciousness is an elusive concept...while we don't know how it is created we know (with a very high confidence) that consciousness is the by-product of the trillions of neuronal connections in our brain. Ergo it is always possible to create artificially though we have no clue how to do that now.

    What is more interesting question can we understand consciousness?

    There are two distinct ways to approach AI and consciousness (aka broad level AI). Top down and bottom up. In top down methods we try to enumerate the intelligence in terms of statements or rules - but we soon realized even with millions of rules the resulting AI is less than that of an ant. So we started with bottom up approaches where in we try to learn from the environment and evolve the rules. There are many ways to do this - many of these methods have strong mathematical underpinnings which make it easy to understand whats going on while some methods inherently work like black boxes. For example neural networks are bio-inspired networks that can manage to do some magnificent AI tasks. Though the number of such artificial neurons we can emulate in a computer is hardly around 1000. Humans have many order of magnitude more neurons!! It is strongly believed that if we can emulate a large enough neuronal network we can achieve high level AI and consciousness ( watch out Kwabena Boahen and Henry Markram's TED talks). What restricts us from doing that is the current architecture of computers which work on a centralized processing unit which is diametrically opposite to the architecture of a brain (watch Jeff Hawkins' talk) . Huge amount of research is underway to develop a new architecture to emulate the brain which makes it possible to achieve consciousness artificially very soon; which brings me back to the original question -

    Because soon we may have artificial consciousness without even having a clue about what it is!!
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    Jul 22 2011: I think consciousness comes from the soul, but this problem will never be proved by science because science says "see to believe" whereas theology says "believe to see". So far science have never believed in anything invisible except Dark Energy and Dark Matter which are inferred.
  • Jul 19 2011: This question is not up for opinion. Our consciousness is a product of our mind which is a product of our brain. To answer your question, consciousness "comes from" your brain. When your brain dies, your consciousness will cease to be. This is a fact.
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      Jul 19 2011: Hi Christopher,

      It's an interesting point and may be true. But let me ask you a few questions:

      1) Do you know what the rest of us are referring too when we use the word "consciousness?" (I doubt it, not because you are in any way "deficient" (I am sure you are not) but because we have yet to reach an agreement on that ourselves.)

      2) Have you experienced something you would describe as "consciousness?"

      If so, where do you experience consciousness to be (Not where do think it to be ... where do you experience it to be.)

      3) Have you died?

      Again (as I have mentioned this before) you can see the problem with the topic - if someone has experienced consciousness and found it to be, say, "transcendent," they might not agree with your assertions. And, if you have not experienced what they have experienced, anything they were to say to you might sound like fantasy, "religion" or "nonsense." At best, "not very scientific."

      As to question number three, "Have you died?" - other people I know also tell me they know what will happen after we die and I ask them the same question.

      So far, no one has said, "Yes." Although several have said they had near-death-experiences.

      Near-death and death are not the same thing, are they?

      A "near-job" and a "job" are quite different too. As are a "near-husband" and a "husband."
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      Jul 21 2011: Consciousness is the base of all life. Even a one cellulair being has a kind of chemical knowing about what it needs and where to get it. Without it nothing could find its way and sustain its existance. The images with which our consciousness project our world are generated during the course of evolution. They are related to what is important for finding food and safety within natural circumstances. For instance that we can distinguishe the color red is because most fruit advertise their ripeness in that frequecy.

      What we see in our world is ourselves. See for the notion of selfconsciousness the beautiful talk of Thandie Newton. http://www.ted.com/talks/thandie_newton_embracing_otherness_embracing_myself.html
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        Jul 21 2011: GREAT talk Frans...thanks for providing the link. Thandie and her message are exquisite:>)

        I percieve consciousness to be energy, so I agree that it could be the "base of all life". I also agree that even a one cell being has energy/consciousness which has evolved through the course of evolution, starting with the need to find food and safety within our life circumstances. Now, we have the ability to go way beyond finding food and safety. We have evolved to the point where we have many different choices. I wonder what paths we will take? Where will we go with our expanded consciousness?
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        Jul 21 2011: Here's another good one that seems to connect with this topic:>)

        http://www.thersa.org/events/video/vision-videos/julian-baggini
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          Jul 22 2011: Julian tries to address the same topic indeed but as I see it he hasn't found out a lot yet. He uses lots of words but the being we really are is seated in the heart and speaks through our feelings. As you mentioned is our consciousness growing and becomes more and more aware of our being which is never ending. The experience of being without more is what we are and all that we are aware of is who we are. A living being is just a point of focus in space and time that's constantly changing as it changes and vice versa. Whirling energy indeed.
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        Jul 22 2011: Hi Frans,
        Funny...I percieve Julian and Thandie to be expressing many of the same things in different ways.

        Julian is a philosopher, so yes, "he uses lots of words", as many philosophers do, while using the reasonable mind language and critical systematic approach with a reliance on rational argument....more of a scientific approach:>)

        While Thandie is more heart/feeling/personal experience connected. I see this a lot on TED and often feel/think that people are arguing in different corners, while I percieve them saying the same things in different ways!

        I was generally a right-brain dominant person, until I had my brain adjusted (near fatal head/brain injury). Now the left brain seems to be popping in more often...I think/feel that I got the connections "fixed"...LOL:>)
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          Jul 23 2011: Hi Colleen, you are a little rewired which gives as I understand a better connection of heart and brain. I know another person with the same history and he gained a lot of insight as a result. Yet deep down among all changes through life there is some reality that stays as it is because it is beyond space and time or must I say that spacetime was brought forth from it. This is pure consciousness as it is like the light without yet anything to see. It fills itself with imagery as it developes within the stage that space and time present. In billions of years it is represented by persons like you and I that play their roles and gather experiences with it.

          Every person is born as a white sheet they say here in Holland so everything still can be written on it. But think for a moment what is needed to produce such a sheet and its materials. There's a lot in character and personality that is the actual state of development which started with life itsef. And as Julian said to conclude his talk: "there is nothing that stays the same and unchanged then he stays on the surface and hasn't looked under the water yet. No one can approach reality outside as this is merely the mirror of our inside.
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        Jul 23 2011: Yes Frans...well said...I am "rewired"! I LOVE your references to the "roles" we play and life as a "stage", because that is my perception of the life experience as well:>) I agree that "...among all changes through life there is some reality that stays...because it is beyond space and time...pure consciousness...". We have the opportunity to play our roles and gather experiences with it...well said:>)
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    Jul 18 2011: Science gives answers to many things - well that's out of curiosity... to get answers out of consciousness we need to nurture and believe in the beauty of it... Somehow this inherent capability which exists in all of us and in fact is the goal of human life is so difficult to realize... what is more astonishing is that almost all of us want to explore new dimensions that is either very popular, common or for the sake of necessity... consciousness - to know about it, feel it, realize it... we need to know the inner us and explore one dimension- inside us... it cannot have one answer... we all have potential to realize it in different ways. Although these are not direct answers to your questions, i believe since you came up with them it is you who can answer them perfectly for yourself and when you do plz share it here so i get to know another flavor of solution.

    Hey try defining science... What is science? From where did it come? ...
    Its extension of our consciousness only right.
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      Jul 18 2011: A wonderful post Sai..I disagree though that "to get answers out of consciousness we need to nurture and believe in the beauty of it" It is there, interpenetrated with us whether we seek it or not, whether we know it is there or not. We might call the gifts of consciousness by other names.."revelation", "insight" "discovery" "synchronicity" "gut feeling", "hunch" our lives are touched and informed invisibly by consciousness all the time. Concurrently, whether we intend it or not, or know it or not, we are feeding consciousness, for good or for bad with the kind of energy we are putting put into the world.

      .At least, that is my experience of it.
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        Jul 19 2011: It is so nice to know your idea about it... I am glad you could share your experience so well...
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    Jul 18 2011: "The evolution of consciousness will involve remembering who we are.

    "On the one hand, we need to learn to use our intellectual capacity to find ways around the hazards of our still primitive brains. On the other, we need to deepen our appreciation of our interconnection and learn better how to listen and to love. These two directions are actually one and the same, because expanding our mindfulness will involve those around us who remind us to stay on task, correct our misconceptions, and offer alternative perspectives to ours. In this way, human relationships serve as external neural circuits that feed information back to us in comprehensible ways and deepen our awareness of the organism called the human species." – Louis Cozolino
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    Jul 18 2011: I've been contemplating this question all day. And to be honest, it makes my head hurt. I've concluded that there is no definitive answer to this question. I could get creative and speculate (which I have and deleted) but ultimately I won't ever really know--and I'm okay with that. Not knowing is apart of the process.
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      Jul 18 2011: Hi again Ranny:>)
      I agree...the verbal gymnastics sometimes makes my head hurt too!!! LOL:>)

      Thinking/feeling/believing/saying "I don't know for sure" is one of the most powerful states of mind/heart/body, in my humble perception. Often, when we have labeled something and think we "know", we stop exploring, so to "not know" is unlimited:>)
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        Jul 18 2011: Exactly.
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        Jul 19 2011: I have often thought that if I were to write a book, the title would be, "I Don't Know."

        As it turns out, I am writing a book (but not the book I had thought about) and it will probably be called something like, "Meaningful Work."
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      Jul 18 2011: Ranny

      I love your post and feel the same.

      We don't need to formulate any ideas about what consciousness is or how it works and we couldn't possibly understand it. If we devoted our entire lives to this one inquiry we would not understand much more than we started with

      .We can, though, come to know consciousness..come to recognize it's work in our lives..but even that doesn't matter.

      Our relationship with consciousness continues whether we engage it intentionally or not

      .I admire that your are comfortable with "not knowing" Being comfortable with what is not knowable is an excellent place to be..like being on a a mountain above the cloud line

      .Nice to meet you, by the wayI
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        Jul 18 2011: "Our relationship with consciousness continues whether we engage it intentionally or not"...and that is possibly the essence of consciousness.
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    Jul 16 2011: When we think about "consciousness" we think about the act of our eyes seeing, our ears hearing, and our thoughts in our head. When it comes to our perceptions, they are dependent on our eyes, our ears, all our senses. That is the physical aspect of consciousness which we experience through our bodies. But there is also the more abstract aspect of our thoughts. It is when our thoughts are concerned that it becomes difficult to understand the nature of consciousness. This "consciousness" that we experience through our thoughts is defined by the language we use, so we can "hear" our voice in our head (i.e. our sense of hearing). But it doesn't end there, because the languages we use have meanings, and those meanings are only expressed in an audible way (the language is not the meaning), but the sound does not represent the meaning, the meaning is purely abstract. Therefore, the pure nature of consciousness may very well be as abstract as our notions of language. Our consciousness have physical expressions, but it is not physical itself, it comes from an abstract dimension, like Plato's "world of ideas".
  • Jul 15 2011: Consciousness is all there is.
    Do see this wonderful talk. Its part of the Global Oneness Project.
    http://www.globalonenessproject.org/videos/sraddhalucomplete
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      Jul 16 2011: Thnak You Ashwin

      ..and thank you for bringing the wonderful work of the Global Oneness Project to TED Conversations. Hope everyone will spread the word through their social networking.

      The Global OnenessProject is a TED idea worth spreading.
  • Jul 14 2011: This question is a great one and still bothers me today. My latest take is that humans are one collective consciousness with the planet. Consciousness must be a new quantum state caused from the complexity of our evolved mind.

    Smaller insect like creates are so simple that they act much like robots. The environment triggers a response and they respond. Hence their intelligence can easily be fooled and manipulated by greatly evolved beings such as ourselves.

    If our mind can process 10,000 bits of information automatically at the same time. (Our programmed or unconscious mind) then our conscious mind, which can process about 40 bits (See The Social Animal TED Talk) must be a relatively newly evolved phenomenon in the history of our evolution..

    Trying to then quantify what consciousnesses is, is like trying to uncover the mysteries of solar system's latest invention.

    There must be a reason why we spawn this feeling of self or conscious 'ego' which allows us to break off from the social herd and have our own limited thoughts. It must be an evolutionary requirement to our survival, however 99% of our brain is still functioning automatically and in the unconscious to the point that we are almost programmed robots that will respond in much the same way to the same stimuli and environment. (Have you ever found yourself making an automatic response to a question only to remember having a similar question then giving the same answer a year earlier, it is almost like you are acting like a preprogrammed robot)

    I take active interest in the way we herd like animals and also are able to feel the Earth and Suns current cycle but this happens on a very unconscious level.

    Ego or consciousness is something that i would like somebody to one day explain to me the answer to this question:

    Why am I me and you you and why am i not conscious of what you are doing in your life yet i perceive that am conscious of what i am doing in my life? A TED talk on this? I look forward to it!
  • Jul 14 2011: Words are just labels that allow us to communicate. The meaning of brain and consciousness is not the same. We perceive the world as physical but we already know it's not completely true. There are hidden forces of life, over the last years they are impossible to dismiss.

    As Echkart Tolle says:
    "The Truth is far more all-encompassing than the mind could ever comprehend. No thought can encapsulate the Truth. At best, it can point to it. For example, it can say: “All things are intrinsically one.” That is a pointer, not an explanation. Understanding these words means feeling deep within you the truth to which they point. "
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    Jul 13 2011: I was looking up an early inventor/psychologist named "Elmer R. Gates" (1859 - 1923) and came across these quotes from his work:

    Mind always requires an organism for its manifestation; science knows of no instance of mental phenomena occurring without being manifested by a living body. – Elmer R. Gates

    Mind in its very nature is an adjustment between a finite organism and its environment. – Elmer R. Gates

    Your first objective is to learn more about the original part of yourself and your mind. – Elmer R. Gates

    One does not need to know what Consciousness is in order to know that it is, any more than Faraday needed to know what electricity is in order to find out what it will do. – Elmer R. Gates

    Consciousness must be understood, not by calling it ‘spirit,’ ‘soul,’ or other name, but by explaining its activities as any other natural phenomenon; namely, by scientific experiment collecting fact after fact. – Elmer R. Gates

    Consciousness is as much a cosmic force as gravity or motion or heat. – Elmer R. Gates

    The previous content of the mind modifies what subsequently enters. – Elmer R. Gates

    He is an interesting man.

    It seems his work was "expropriated" by mystics and occultists much to his dismay. Reading some of it, I am not surprised. He applied "scientific method" to cognition using himself as a subject much of the time and, as a result, developed a fairly refined concept of most mental faculties. He's worth a "google."
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      Jul 13 2011: What a great comment, Thomas! And how unfortunate that every idea on mind has to be "proved" by some questionable, manipulated scientific experiment or research related to brains in order to be taken "seriously". Therefore great discoveries remain unknown or disposed. Ironically our scientific mentality, in spite its growing tricky technology and fancy tools, is still rooted in the old age of René Descartes.... so sad! Some “Evidence” in a lab is OK, but what makes you "see" your evidence, and how your own old mind works in order to perceive and think? The crucial process of perceiving is commonly ignored, even when we talk about consciousness, entirely based on what we selectively perceive.

      Thank you for helping me rediscover Elmer R. Gates. He should be introduced to students in schools. (I was stupidly convinced that he was "just a mystic" . It is one of the reasons of our illiteracy that often one's great work is put into the wrong category.)
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    Jul 12 2011: I like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's explanation of consciousness in his book Flow, where he describes at as attention and psychic energy.
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      Jul 12 2011: I agree Pashmina...I liked this book a lot:>)
      I too percieve consciousness as an energy flow:>)

      About "FLOW":
      "A giant step forward toward a redefinition of human subjectivity. It will be instructive to be read by professionals and lay persons in every area of human life, and it is a profound contribution to the general education of the public in the positive character of the deepest human strivings."
      (Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.,)
  • Jul 10 2011: Consciousness arises from highly interconnected nods which have been mapped out across the neocortex; small bit concepts are mapped to higher level ideas to create compound emergent concepts. These are then fired simultaneously with other complex emergent ideas to create compound meanings and higher forms of understanding. The neocortex generates its highly functional activity by organizing its relationships in a hierarchical structure. when an input enters through a sensory organ, the lowest level of understand attempts to identify the sensation. If it is unable it kicks the pattern to the next level of understanding, which if capable of interpreting will react accordingly or if unable kicks it up to the next level of conception. The Hippocampus acts as the highest conceptual level, creating a sensation of novelty and finding a place to fit this new conceptual schemata which has emerged if a sense packet reaches the Hippocampus. The illusion of awareness and free will comes about from the experiential nature of the world. We seem to interact with the world as a free agent, coming to different conclusions and understandings over time. What is really happening is that our brains, in their hectic task to sort all of our sensory inputs programs new responses that fit other schemata which we have initiated creating new instinctual conclusions. It is day dreaming that allows self improved compounded programming, and it results from the structure of the brain. It isn't so much that it is conscious, it is just so structurally complex and mills over so much information that it seems to be self directed rather than purely reactive.
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    Jul 10 2011: Consciousness comes from wondering what consciousness is and where it came from.
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      Jul 10 2011: Infinite loop.
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        Jul 10 2011: ...or evolving process. Our brain develops according to how it is used.
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        Jul 10 2011: Farrukh wrote: It seems to me that this process lacks its beginning.

        Are you hypothesizing that there is a single point that could be identified as the beginning of consciousness? I would imagine that the definition of consciousness will evolve as think about it over time. A precise "beginning" would require a static definition that does not expand with our ability to understand it.
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          Jul 10 2011: "wondering what consciousness is and where it came from" requires consciousness itself. Therefore I think that questioning consciousness was not cause for consciousness to exist, but there was some other cause which I do not know.
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        Jul 10 2011: Farrukh wrote: "wondering what consciousness is and where it came from" requires consciousness itself. Therefore I think that questioning consciousness was not cause for consciousness to exist, but there was some other cause which I do not know."

        Could it be that the very act of questioning consciousness led to the birth of consciousness? At some point, there was a moment of self-awareness. It would seem that would lead to the question - What is this? Pondering that question could have contributed to the part of the brain where self-awareness takes place.

        I realize I am defining consciousness as self-awareness. What is your definition?
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        Jul 11 2011: Farrukh, There is little agreement, from my understanding of exactly what consciousness is. Webster offers a wide range of definitions. Which of these fits your understanding of consciousness?

        1
        a : the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself b : the state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact c : awareness; especially : concern for some social or political cause
        2
        : the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought : mind
        3
        : the totality of conscious states of an individual
        4
        : the normal state of conscious life
        5
        : the upper level of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes
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          Jul 11 2011: I would chose 1, 3 and 5. But let me give definition of it in my own way. Consciousness is being awake and self-aware while realizing that awareness.
      • Jul 12 2011: You mentioned infinite loop. Are you referring to String Theory or Silver something.
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          Jul 12 2011: No. I was just saying that idea of consciousness comes from questioning it forms an infinite logical loop. If you track that loop backwards you'll find that starting point is missing.
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        Jul 12 2011: Farukh wrote: "I would chose 1, 3 and 5. But let me give definition of it in my own way. Consciousness is being awake and self-aware while realizing that awareness."

        Does realizing that awareness involve wondering what consciousness is and where it came from?

        "Consciousness is as consciousness does" (paraphrase of Forrest Gump)
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          Jul 12 2011: I think it does not involve questioning or wondering what consciousness is. Because, such process of wondering is due to desire to explore and know as much as possible.
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      Jul 10 2011: An interesting fact to your point here: the only reason we are able to really ponder consciousness is because of the development of the neo-cortex part of our brains. Humans are the only animals that can think about how they think...and potentially change it. It'll be interesting to see how this part of the brain evolves in the future.
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        Jul 10 2011: It would seem to depend on how much we think about our consciousness. You might be interested in watching Charles Limb on improv where he uses an fmri to indicate that the area of the brain responsible for self-reflection shuts down during creative improvisaiton (this is not definitive yet - he is still collecting data) http://www.ted.com/talks/charles_limb_your_brain_on_improv.html

        I believe we do our best work when we are not conscious of self but get into a flow that connects us with the situation. We lose sense of time and seem to totally merge with the activity. This seems to be a more desirable state that consciousness in many respects.
  • Jul 9 2011: From the perspective of one who has spent a fair amount of time practicing Vipassana meditation it appears that the more I extricate my awareness from identification with my thoughts and my conditioned psychological identity, the more I seem to be part of a functioning whole within the happenings of my daily life. Its as though there is an all-encompassing consciousness, or at the very least there is a deeper level of knowing that is communicated between people of which we are unaware or only slightly aware, when we are in our normal left-brain-dominant state of consciousness. I simply have no other explanation for the increasing number of coincidences, synchrony, and serendipity which life has shown me over the last 15-20yrs. Reality just does not seem to operate as though I am a separate thinking individual, planning & scheming my way through life and interpersonal relations with others--human or otherwise. Top that off with what my father and I experience together as he approaches death from terminal cancer and I just can't fight it or deny it any longer. As he has become weaker and more confused, the communication and understanding we can share together is unlike that which anyone else experiences with him (his wife, siblings & other children included)--it happens nearly every time I'm with him. I have come to believe our consciousness is woven into the fabric of the physical/mental world and thus (as others on this blog have suggested) we will never be able to prove or disprove consciousness or God through objective, scientific means. Further, more exacting descriptions of what I experience would require a lengthy conversation and the mutual understanding which comes from an ongoing relationship with another person, but I offer this testimony as food for thought.
    • Jul 10 2011: Hi Fred

      We are a soup of atoms and I strongly believe that that is the connection we all observe yet interpret differently.
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        Jul 10 2011: Stephen lewis, thank you for your concerns
        life is too short, we don't expect to feel offended every now and then, for no good reason I see
        aside, I believe I should be giving some space
        we are sharing what we know
        I believe there is nothing as right or wrong
        there are general "limits", that draw how we react accordingly
        this could be referred to consciousness too
        • Jul 10 2011: Absolutely Mohamed. We have made progress in just a few short sentences.
  • Jul 9 2011: Emergent from the brain. Evolution has given us the ability to rationalize what is going on around us at all times, I believe, for the purpose of survival. Every sense provided to give us an opportunity to survive. The instantaneous reactions to dangers is a perfect example. If we had to fully engage thought at that time, we more than likely would become somethings food. That's just to slow.

    In less dangerous situations, your emotions help guide you as to what do. I believe correct actions reward you with good feeling sensation and incorrect actions reward you with bad feeling sensations. A job well done gives you a sense of pride. A wrong doing and you will feel guilt. Subjective, of course, we may not feel pride or guilt for the same reasons because we all have our own life experiences.

    In order for all that to work you need to have a memory so you can recall the smell of fire and distinguish it from cooking. That alertness to danger keeps you alive. Even in the dead of sleep, your senses will wake you to full alertness in the event of sensing danger. You could absolutely not survive(unaided) without a memory. Otherwise you would keep sticking your hands into the fire.

    Sensations of love and caring binds us into groups, hormones help propagate the species, hate and anger is what comes of not feeling loved or cared for. After that consciousness is just idle chatter and we use it to serve our own ego's.

    Just a thought I've had running through, I guess, my consciousness
  • Jul 9 2011: On which came first, the bible says "in the beginning was the word." I am not saying that settles the question, just that the question is ancient.
    I just read that bacteria have been found to have a sense of smell. Which I conclude means that bacteria are conscious of other smelly bacteria and therefore conscious of their own smell, or probably to them, lack of it. Odor exists outside of consciousness, But since odor is what is smelled, did odor exist before bacteria knew it was there?
    Sorry, gotta go. I think I just heard a tree fall in the forest.
  • Jul 8 2011: Consciousness is a representation of one self, living in a simulation of world around it, constructed from experience, maintained by the brain. Every system that activly maintains a state that controls it self could be considered more or less(usually less) conscious. As human brain(and body) is the way most complex self sustaining system known to man it is not surprising that we alone are credited to be only really conscious entities.Question WHY we have consciousness has only ..... answers. Like we where designed to have one. Or we just grew up with it. Or capability to simulate one self in any known environment hasits evolutionary benefits. Anyway Why never has good answers. Why I wrote this? Why the sun shines?HOW, now that's an intresting question. Again when talkin about consciousness many think about the linguistic consciousness we are used to. Where we conscious before we had language? Does one need to be aware of one self to be conscious?
    • Jul 9 2011: Hi mko

      The last 2 questions; yes and I don't think so. I think there are degrees of consciousness and self consciousness is a higher degree.
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    Jul 8 2011: The question asked sets up for itself a double bind.
    Your asking a question of a thing through the thing, which is asking a question of itself.
    However, we do tune into it as well as produce it. It is transactional.

    Again, the question investigates with a linear perspective. It looks for causes and not relativities.
    Can you hear a difference between all of the sounds on one hand and yourself on the other?

    On a socioeconomic note:
    It is what we need. It is what we are in short supply of.
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    G C

    • +1
    Jul 8 2011: Consciousness comes from radiation, most commonly referred to as light. Radiation is the source and fuel of all life. Stars created and ejected the heavier elements that became the building blocks of this life. The most basic life forms built from these elements at the bottom of the food chain seek radiation in some form (sun light, volcanic heat, chemical, etcetera) to fuel their existence and build their bodies. As life is consumed up the food chain the converted and stored radiation is chemically extracted and used to power the larger animals leading to us, which we suppose is where consciousness manifests. So even though we can live without light or direct radiation we must consume it in some form. This radiation has made us what we are and as we look back at the universe we observe it through forms of radiation, this observance of ourselves and our world is the side of consciousness that we understand. So in short; life is created from radiation which then uses radiation to observe itself and the physical universe, it then adapts and grows always seeking the source and thus fostering consciousness. The question would then be: did consciousness stem from radiation observing the universe or did another side of consciousness thrust radiation into the dark void?
    • Jul 9 2011: G. C. I've noticed the correlation between this line of thinking and the Genesis story from the Bible. Light, or radiation is where it all began. It does seem a bit odd for it to be coincidence that the two are similar, that light was the origin of everything as we know it to be, and that ancient peoples were aware and wrote about reality in that way.
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        G C

        • +1
        Jul 13 2011: I couldn't agree more. I don't think that the ancients were too far off from the truth, they just didn't have the words or concepts that we have today to further explain the meaning behind what they were saying. Then again we seem to be mucking it up with all these words and concepts at our disposal so maybe they had it better off...Occam's razor I guess.

        If the ancients were given this information from a more informed being then it would have to be presented to them in a manner that they could understand. If you try to explain existence through quantum mechanics you'd have to first teach them atomic physics, Mawell's equations and Relativity, things few people understand even today.

        One more relation that I like to dwell upon for shits and giggles: cymatics and the breath of God (sound).
    • Jul 9 2011: I agree with everything that you say here, but I'm still a little confused as how radiation determines consciousness. I agree that every life-form seeks radiation in some way, and it has evolved to the point where we as humans receive it mostly through what we eat. I guess what I'm asking is, how do you define consciousness? Is it our ability to make daily decisions based on their outcomes and consequences, such as should I shower before I leave my house? What does this have to do with radiation? Otherwise, I really enjoyed reading your reply.
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        G C

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        Jul 10 2011: How do I define consciousness? Well I think that all decisions are derivatives of consciousness. So far as I can tell all life makes choices based on external stimuli; plants, animals, algae, even DNA. Epigenetics is showing that genes are switched on and off not just randomly but in response to environment. The point being that decision making starts at the simplest life forms and continues through the chain of life. The choices we make like taking showers and the like are not too far off from what any other animal makes, maybe there are more variables that we take into account but all told we're just weighing pros and cons seeking desired outcomes.

        What this has to do with radiation is that we are like filters or lenses through which radiation passes and is interpreted. We stem from radiation while observing and interacting with it and the our environment just like all life. Consciousness is radiation, interacting with the physical world, observing itself and sending information back into itself thus resulting in infinite recursion both inward and outward.

        Does this help? I'm trying to be descriptive but not bore you with details.
        • Jul 10 2011: GC

          Very interesting. Are you saying, "Consciousness is radiation" like Richard Dawkins is referring to "memes"?
        • Jul 11 2011: Are you saying that consciousness is a kind of electric waves or magnetic waves?
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          Jul 19 2011: QUOTE: "Epigenetics is showing that genes are switched on and off not just randomly but in response to environment."

          Genes also repsond to thought. (See, for example, Candace Pert's "Molecules of Emotion.")
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    Jul 7 2011: i think its the energy transfered from us after death. possibly a product of a brain that seems to operate at quantum level, disregarding time as we know it in general. i also believe in a collective consciousness, which may explain so mayn people get this feeling of being connected to one another. ever seem like the greatest ideas are thought up by more than one person around the same time, wihtout knowing it till later ?
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      Jul 8 2011: I would say that one idea being discovered by more than one person at a time is due to 'universal knowledge base'. I know this is another subject to be discussed, but thats what I think.
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    Aug 7 2011: On this sunday afternoon, reading back, looking for knowing knowing. I thank all for open thought, Farrukh for posting the question.

    A lot to 'know' here, somehow this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd2B6SjMh_w
    ( Gnarls Barkley - Crazy ) song tells me all what I need to 'feel' about knowing consciousness ;)
  • Aug 6 2011: I comment from time to time that it is conceptual change that is the hard problem, not consciousness.

    Pinker says he thinks it most likely (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580394,00.html) that humans are not equipped to deal with the problems of consciousness but he nevertheless concedes the possibility that this theory "could be demolished when an unborn genius--a Darwin or Einstein of consciousness--comes up with a flabbergasting new idea that suddenly makes it all clear to us." Meanwhile Pinker himself is starting to propose (TED talk) that concrete language is the foundation of all our thinking!

    So Pinker, I think, misses the crucial problem of conceptual change. The interesting question is not whether some yet unborn genius will solve the problem but rather - how many times has the problem been solved before?

    Conceptual change in the past has been difficult and painful and some changes remain so - Darwin's notion that people are evolved objects for instance. I understand that the concept of zero rose and fell only to become re-established as uncontroversial. So it seems that we are capable of discarding valuable understandings and of remaining deaf to new understandings. This has been the case in the past. It is hard to why it would not be the case now.

    The problem of consciousness is the problem of conceptual change. It is the problem of finding a culture in which the change can be received, understood and accepted. Dennett says people don't want to solve the problem of consciousness. He is obviously right. The question is, will this remain the cultural norm?
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      Aug 6 2011: Dear Lawrence,
      You speak of "conceptual change that is the hard problem"..."humans are not equipped to deal with the problems of consciousness"..."conceptual change in the past has been difficult and painful"..."the problem of consciousness is the problem of conceptual change"...."it is the problem of finding a culture in which the change can be received, understood and accepted"..."...solve the problem of consciousness..."

      Lawrence, consciousness is not a "problem"...it is a gift. Furthermore, it is not really difficult to understand and apply. You seem to be getting yourself bogged down in words, which is not necessary, and I understand it as a choice you make for yourself:>)
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      Aug 6 2011: QUOTE: I comment from time to time that it is conceptual change that is the hard problem, not consciousness.

      I agree, the problem is not "consciousness" it is "conceptual change." When we hear something that does not conform to our concept, we reject, or discount it.


      QUOTE: "The interesting question is not whether some yet unborn genius will solve the problem but rather - how many times has the problem been solved before?"

      Exactly. Probably many people have solved "the problem," in times past - even now.

      Unless we are willing to step out of our own models, the problems of "conceptual change" will remain.
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      Aug 7 2011: Lawrence,

      Good article, thanks for the link:

      (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580394,00.html)
  • Aug 5 2011: Hey guys thanks for reading my comment and for coursing through your understandings. I would say that god enters into the picture or love enters the picture when two are more people are mutually aligned. They may be conscious of each other or conscious while engaging in a mutual aim. They may also drift into a mechanical state, less aware of one another and fall into habitual sleep all while engaging in a mutual act. So it seems that the puzzle of consciousness is solved by realizing it's quality. This quality comes about based on the focus put forth by the brain. So consciousness is driven by an internal order whereby the various brains -mental, -emotional, -physical, and magnetic are ordered for the task. If the brains are out of order a lesser degree of awareness is maintained, but again I want to emphasize that it is the actions of two together that really cause the phenomena of consciousness to be practical, measurable, verifiable. Alone we can easily fool ourself.
  • Comment deleted

  • Aug 3 2011: Here is the poem that Lawrence thinks is disrespectful. Just in case anyone is interested in reading it. Pinker is not writing anything here as far as I know. He seems to have made a pretty big impression on some people.

    I personally thought it was a pretty darn good poem ... ;-)

    A little laughter is medicine for the soul ! We don't need to take ourselves so seriously !

    Pinker... he's a "THINKER"... in his brain like a machine..
    Let me get my microscope ...and I'll show you what I mean....
    Over here in this corner.... he says there is no " I "
    ... and over here he claims.... that freedoms just a lie......
    and over there ! ... you see..! Theeeres no such thing as "soul" ..!
    All our thoughts and feeling..... are waaay beyond control....!

    And Pinker.... he's a "TINKER" ...
    ....within his puzzling little brain.....
    he puzzles soul and spirit..... are simply to disdain.....
    My " I " it is not real.... he shouts.... and shakes his mighty fist
    He points his finger to his head ... My "Self" does not exist
    My " I " is just illusion..... "But the problem is so hard"
    "Don't add to my confusion... I'm no bloody retard"

    But Pinker...he's a "STINKER"....
    In his twisted little thoughts...
    He's setting up a spiders web..
    Be careful... don't get caught...
    Cause his viewpoint makes no sense at all....
    No Freedom - Soul - nor " I ".....
    ...so I wonder who has told him this...
    and I ask the reason why....
  • Aug 2 2011: Not to propose that a democratic process can lead to any sort of truth in the matter,.. but I would just like to feel the temperature of the water with my toe as to where the consensus might lie in regards to a very general understanding of what the word consciousness might actually mean. As to have some sort of understanding of this question might bring us closer to the original question posed by Farrukh Yakubov. To do this, I will simply invite all readers who at this TED discussion to either give support or to disagree with the following two quite different understandings of what the word might mean. I do this not with the intention of putting anyone down or to prove them right or wrong. I do this simply out of simple curiosity as to where... in general... people are coming from.

    Lawrence Trevanion claims the following

    Consciousness as an agent of any kind can be seen as obsolete pseudo-knowledge - an idea that stood in place of our ignorance and which is now an obstacle to overcoming ignorance.

    I prefer to claim the following

    Human consciousness is the stage upon which concept and observation meet and become linked to one another.
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      Aug 2 2011: Hi Daniel,

      My first reaction when I read your post was, "You're kidding, right!?"

      But I don't think you are.

      Here's my vote:

      You think: "Human consciousness is the stage upon which concept and observation meet and become linked to one another."

      And you think Lawrence thinks: "Consciousness as an agent of any kind can be seen as obsolete pseudo-knowledge - an idea that stood in place of our ignorance and which is now an obstacle to overcoming ignorance." [You might be right, he might think that but the point is, you think he thinks that.]

      You think you are right and you think he is wrong.

      You seem to be emotionally invested in being right so you have a hard time hearing (and understanding) anything that does not conform to your worldview. "Democracy" will not resolve this cognitive predilection.

      Does that help?
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      Aug 2 2011: Since you ask Daniel...
      It appears to me, that you are both going around in circles, and appear to be emotionally invested in being "right". For me, successful, valuable discussions grow and evolve when we find some common ground on which we can connect, rather than focusing on the parts of the discussion that continue to disconnect us.
      • Aug 3 2011: Colleen,
        Up to this point you have commented on nothing I have written nor I on what you have written. I imagine that it is obvious to both of us that there are few if any points of agreement.

        On what basis do you suggest I am "going around in circles, and appear to be emotionally invested in being "right"? How is such a comment respectful and how does it provide for a successful, valuable discussion?

        I would be interested to know how you think a discussion should proceed between someone who thinks the earth is flat and someone who thinks the earth is round.
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          Aug 3 2011: Hi Lawrence,

          Not to answer for Colleen (she can do that quite well on her own) but I do understand how it might look like the conversation is "going in circles."

          It would also be easy to assume there is an emphasis on "being right."

          The concepts and precepts you present are not easy to grasp and the fact you are having a dialogue with someone who (apparently) doesn't understand you and yet wishes to debate with you would, quite naturally, result in a somewhat circuitous exchange.

          I have not read all of your posts but my sense is you are not invested in "being right" you are invested in "being understood"... but you are only one of the participants in the particular discussion in question.
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          Aug 3 2011: Lawrence,
          I actually agree with some of your statements, and do not understand others, but I have read them all with interest.

          Sorry if you perceived my comment to be disrespectful...it was not meant to be so. Some of the comments between you and Daniel seem repetitious to me, and that is why I said it feels like the conversation is going in circles. I also perceive some commonalities in some of the statements, which suggests to me that you may not be listening to each other. The only reason I address this, is because Daniel asked the question, and now you ask me to clarify...which I appreciate:>) I am a mediator, so am usually aware of commonalities, which may move a discussion forward:>)
      • Aug 3 2011: Thanks Colleen for your clarification "I actually agree ..." etc.
        I did not seek a conversation with Daniel Hehir. I have answered his questions with respect to the proposition that I put i.e. "people are objects that perceive" correctly states the relationship between experience and the real. I asked him to confine the discussion to whether what I have written follows from this proposition, or whether matters of fact contradict the proposition. The fact that I continue to answer his questions apparently exposes me to the charge that I am "going around in circles, and appear to be emotionally invested in being "right".

        Regarding mediation, I notice that when Daniel wrote 0n 24 March ""But Pinker...he's a "STINKER"" he received 3 thumbs up. You responded on 25 March under that comment and on 26 March you responded to his final poem with -
        "Good job Daniel:>)
        It's been fun to be conscious...together:>)"

        I think you would agree that the community of TED commenters has some room for improvement in the matter of respect.
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          Aug 3 2011: Dear Lawrence,
          Sorry you feel "exposed". You DID ask me to clarify, and I offered my observation.

          I did not give anyone thumbs up for the comment you describe above. I'm sure you know how the comment threads run? Sometimes, it's difficult to get a response right under the comment one is responding to.

          My comment "Good job Daniel...", was for his moderation of a very long thread...600+ comments. While comments from other threads certainly give us information about the topics and each other, I try to focus on the information/conversation on the thread in front of me.

          I agree that we have room for improvement in the matter of respect:>)
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    Aug 1 2011: For the SciFi novel fans under us, a little contribution to the thread;

    ... "As you remember, aether is the substance of thought, of imagination. Aether is all around us, everything we see is ‘covered’ in the stuff. It is the potential of everything we see, a plant that grows, it is the driving force of mother nature. A regions potential is the best case ‘what if’, what if all the elements and all the activity is running in complete harmony, the region can become something extraordinary beautiful. While in flow, the aether of the painters mind and the aether in the region simply blend together. A painter knows this feeling, he is in a trance state of mind, ‘loose’ from his conscious. Like throwing a glass of water in the ocean, the two normally divided elements become one. It is at this moment the imagination and potential of the painter and is the imagination and potential of the region he is looking at are one through the substance we call aether.

    A painter has tapped into potential by painting potential. The composition of paint is the translation of aether he has ‘seen’, passed on. As we can see paint, our mind translates this composition back to it’s own storage of aether, it’s own potential. This we experience as an energy boost in our brain, our body, our body and mind align for a moment in potential, we feel.

    The aether-thought-potential triangle on the brain, a funny theory, I believe now it is an amazing element. Hidden from us as our thought is made from the stuff. As unique as the other elements are by themselves individually. Artists, or anybody thinking a lot and going for their potential experiences the flow of elementals through conscious flow.

    ...
  • Aug 1 2011: Have you ever read or heard anything from philosopher and master thinker Peter Russell? "The Primacy of Consciousness"? Maybe it's eternal, and can never be created or destroyed... look at the assumptions every scientific exploration into consciousness has ever contained within them... it's deep man! Assumptions can really cause people to spin their wheels in the mud for aeons, looking for needles in haystacks, while no one ever said that the needle might be there. Many spiritual
  • Aug 1 2011: Daniel Hehir,
    A further reply.

    When saying 'I perceive X', X can be a memory, something imagined, a thought (imagined language) or something seen heard, felt, seen etc. The interpretation that X is something real, and that it is not memory imagination or delusion, is complex but generally we are very competent at these distinctions. When I read these words I see them and rehearse them silently i.e. I perceive the words and I perceive the imagined language.

    You need to take to heart the fact that language is conducted entirely through tokens in the real (even when we imagine it). Language is unrelentingly real because people are real - the real is the only means through which they can communicate. This explains why it is wrong to think of thought as a substance and it explains why people cannot read minds - there is no such thing as non-real perception of another person's imagined language.

    I note some confusion regarding out of body experience (OBE). The mechanics of our vision mean that we see the world from a point behind the front of our face. This is used as the basis for locating consciousness in the head. In contrast to this visceral feelings are often used to locate the soul in the heart. Are our visual and visceral consciousnesses in different places? One wonders if a snail's consciousness might not be in thin air. And if consciousness is an existence that can leave the body (i.e. is not confined to the eyes' real viewpoint(s?)) then we are left to suppose that visual consciousness takes on an imaginary location when imagining things, a delusional location when we are deluded, a confused location when we are confused etc. It makes more sense to suppose that OBE is the adoption of an imaginary viewpoint than to think of it as a non-real substance moving through the real. (I am confident Lindsay Newland Bowker's remarks to the contrary would not withstand rigorous scientific scrutiny.)
  • Aug 1 2011: Daniel Hehir,
    I reply here rather than under Adam Leeson's post.

    The progress of knowledge is not a democracy. When a new understanding regarding the interpretation of human experience comes along it is irrelevant to say that no one agrees with it. It makes sense that if the world-views of people in the past are now obsolete then we should be prepared to see our own views overturned. You seem particularly unprepared.

    A quick survey of the comments here will show that there is great confusion in the use of words like 'real' and 'exist'. You write, for example "The spiritual world is as real as the world of consciousness." Your most recent reply capitalises 'real' and has it in scare quotes. I, on the other hand, claim that objects (meaning the real) exist and that we say so to indicate that they persist regardless of whether we are perceiving them or not. Has human understanding comes to such a sorry pass that this can be regarded as controversial? If people are objects that perceive, if experience is what it is like for objects to perceive, then it makes no sense to say that experience exists.

    Ironically, you yourself write of the mystery of consciousness. So if you want to try a new way of interpreting experience and master a disciplined way of using language, instead of saying 'I have consciousness of X' say instead 'I perceive X'; instead of saying 'My consciousness of X exists' say 'I definitely perceive X'.

    Instead of writing "Consciousness is the mediator between thinking and observation." write "I perceive thoughts and I perceive the world". In recognising that you are an object and that to some degree you perceive yourself you will see that the relationship between the perception of thought and the perception of the world is a complex one that can be investigated in the real. Consciousness as an agent of any kind can be seen as obsolete pseudo-knowledge - an idea that stood in place of our ignorance and which is now an obstacle to overcoming ignorance.
    • Aug 1 2011: Lawrence,
      I agree that the progress of knowledge is not a democracy. But at the same time to deny that consciousness is "real" simply because it is something that is outside your framework of the "real" is not justified.
      In Adam's thread you used the word tall. .You said that "tallness" is not real and therefore concluded that consciousness was not real. Do you mean then to apply that model of explanation to every adj. that "necessitate the noun form" Awareness or selfishness or humbleness? these are descriptive qualities of human states of being and condition. We can say "He is aware." or "He has awareness." or we can say "He is unaware." ... just as we say "He is conscious." or "He has no consciousness." or "He is unconscious."... But to say he has tallness makes little sense at all.. or to say he is "untall"... logic of language looses its grip. What you said on Adam's thread was just double talk. You try to kick the feet out from under the logic of language itself. The necessitation of noun forms for inner experiences reflects inner human development.

      Noticing that you use the word " I " quite regularly... Do you consider your " I " to be real?. or is your " I " just simply a construct or abstraction without inhold? What then, is real about your own " I " if anything..? Is it a "continuing" factor within the "real"?
      You obviously must be thinking quite a bit... to consider, evaluate, reconsider, reevaluate these words..can you then say that your "thinking" is real? Is it a real .."activity".. that is going on within you. Is it a "continuing" factor?
      After you have responded to these few short question, I wonder if you could say just a few words about what you understand of the subject / object relationship of the "object that perceives"... if you don't mind..
      Thank you
      • Aug 2 2011: Daniel,
        'I' is the object that perceives. The mechanics of perception are such that a perceiving object knows very little about itself.

        In the framework implied by the assertion 'people are objects that perceive', objects are real and consciousness is not. Such an understanding imposes discipline on the meaning of 'real' and 'exist', something that is notably lacking.

        Accounts of human experience can be reduced to the form 'I perceive X' (where 'I' is the object that perceives).

        Your comments above on Berkeley mistakenly addressed to Thomas show not only are you unprepared for new ideas you are not prepared for old ones. I think Berkeley's argument is profoundly important but I would expect anyone reading my remarks to know that I was directly contradicting him - he says perceptions exist and therefore not the real, whereas I'm saying the real exists and therefore not perceptions.

        I believe this is a quote from you from March 24 2011 "But Pinker...he's a "STINKER"....". It is no crime to be ignorant, but the sort of abuse you mix with your ignorance is unacceptable.
        • Aug 2 2011: Lawrence,
          I quote you..without copy and paste.
          "..'I' is the object that perceives. The mechanics of perception are such that a perceiving object knows very little about itself."
          Here you are meaning to say "I" being the "object that perceives" due to my own limited mechanics of my own perception are such that "I" (the perceiving object) know very little about myself and the way I perceive the outer objects in the "real" ... including my OWN perceptions and including my own PERCEPTIONS of my own perceptions...."
          Think about that... The fact that you the observer can not only observe the outer world (the real.. in your words) but included in this .. you can observe your own observations as perceptions in the world.
          As you elegantly jumped over a few of my previous questions... I will try to ask them again... just one at a time so you don't loose track.
          Can you explain to me the meaning in your mind... with your limited mechanics of perception... just what is the relationship between the subject / object nature of your thinking...?
          If you really try to get to the bottom of this question, you will find that what you are calling "the object that perceives" .. CAN ... and "DOES" perceive its "OWN" activity !! This is the true nature of thinking !!
          As I tried to point out earlier to you ... the fact that you can evaluate then "RE" evaluate... consider and then "RE" consider your own thoughts must point it out quite clearly to you... regardless of how limited you assume your own mechanical perceptions are.
          ALL this mental stumbling around that you are doing is because of the fact that you haven't yet recognized this fact.
          Your own "THINKING" is observing your own "THINKING".... This is the amazing fact of the nature of thinking itself...!!
          Now ... if I am in any way going to be able to help you to a better understanding of this fact, you must try to answer my question about the subject / object nature of thinking, because this is my impression of where your problem lies.
      • Aug 2 2011: Daniel,

        I answer your post "I quote you .." as follows:

        An object that perceives doesn't perceive perceptions. 'I perceive X' does not progress to 'I perceive perceptions of X'. If it did we would produce an infinite regression i.e. 'I perceive perceptions of perceptions of X' and so on.

        Thinking (imagined language) can be expressed in terms of 'I perceive X'. The fact that we do not understand the mechanics of perception means we do not understand the detail of the processes of our thinking. We can discern patterns in the thoughts that we perceive but not even you, with your notions of self knowing, can predict what thought(s?) you will perceive in 30 seconds time. We do not perceive our own brains, far less its intricate detail. Perceiving the mechanism of our brains would require a new level of mechanism of perception. Even if we had this new level of perception of our brains this would not perfect self knowledge because we would not perceive this new level of mechanism. We are necessarily self-unknowing to some extent. This is why it is that neuroscience has new things to tell us about ourselves.

        Thinking does not observe thinking. You are using 'observe' as a metaphor from vision. Do I need to point out that the abstraction 'thinking' does not have eyes and does not observe anything?

        You have missed the most critical point. You have shown yourself to be ignorant yet you have not denied writing "But Pinker...he's a "STINKER"....". You have a great deal to learn, not least from Pinker. If you cannot treat such a person with respect it is difficult to see why anyone would bother to converse with you.
  • Jul 31 2011: Consciousness comes from the "life Force" called "Prana" in Hindu spiritual thought. Prana is infused into a baby foetus when a disembodied soul chooses a foetus of a mother in order to manifest itself in human life in order to speed up it's spiritual evolution.
    The consciousness so induced is part of the infinite all pervading consciousness also called "God". However this consciousness seems to forget this linkage when the child manifest's as a human being. Through the process of meditation it is possible to reconnect with the infinite consciousness as a human being.
    There are numerous instances in Indian literature where this life force has been induced by a human being in a inanimate human body through the access to yogic capabilities. One such example is the birth of a Hindu God Ganesh who was born by the infusion of Prana into a inanimate body by his mother Parvati
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    Jul 31 2011: People usually over-estimate the power of human brain to the animal world. I think we only have one step higher of the "consciousness " to them , no more. See Jane Goodall's talks.
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    Jul 31 2011: flagged by accident sorry, i agree with you johnny cude!
  • Jul 30 2011: Good question. Like everyone I feel I can chip in. First like each and every english word 'consciousness' is ambiguous.
    I'll call that my sense of being. I love consciousness.So I thought I'd try out some ways of pushing it with various legal and illegal rugs. I was particularly inspired by Aldous Huxley. In any case I found that under some combinations of certain substances consciousness was suspended and interesting out of body experiences took place - preceeded by an incandescent light wind/sense of immense energy passing through etc...in any case - it fucked my mind.
    I think the lesson is threefold - #1 nothing is real 2# be careful #3 trust
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    Jul 30 2011: @ Farrukh, Christophe and Thomas. looking forward to hearing your insight.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_our_own_decisions.html
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      Jul 30 2011: Hi Wayne,

      I like Mr Ariely and his work.

      Is there any particular part of his presentation that interested you?
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        Jul 30 2011: Hello Thomas,

        This talk is about how we sometimes erroneously perceive and interpret information and explains cognitive illusions.

        It speaks about our seemingly inescapable and irrational decision making process, finally reminding us how far reaching are the consequences.

        absolutely fascinating ... and humbling.

        He finally offers us hope in the form of a suggestion; if we accept and better understand our sensorial and cognitive limits we can build better tools to evolve past those limitations.

        The link below is a concrete example of how we might better understand our ability to listen effectively.
        www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better.html

        If anyone is listening i am very interested in finding any other tools for improving the understanding and acuity of all our other sense (six, seventh... sense if they too exist).
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          Jul 30 2011: Hi Wayne,

          Yes, it is an interesting talk and, I think you are perhaps being overly generous when you say, "we sometimes erroneously perceive and interpret information."

          Some would say, we do not do it "sometimes" but we do it all of the time.

          The perceptual illusions he used were quite effective in making his larger point. The interesting thing about perceptual illusions is that some of them are "cultural."

          For example, illusions of perspective are not perceived by people who developed in cultures that do no not have strong cues for perspective.

          Most of us "grew up" with lots of cues that indicate something is close to us or far away - things as simple as "square rooms," roads, streets, picket fences and telephone poles.

          The converging parallel lines are quickly processed and perceived as "receding into the distance."

          People who grow up in arboreal environments and in round homes, for example, do not learn to see these cues. As a result, they would not see converging lines on a page as an indication of depth.

          I suggest the metaphor carries. We are conditioned, by our cultures, to perceive our worlds in particular ways and it is very challenging to see them in any other way.

          I have adopted the practice of holding everything within my field of awareness as provisional.
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        Jul 30 2011: I don't know where consciousness comes from, however, my position is that any attempt to get at the truth using our current means and ultimately subjective understanding to interpret that finite part of the infinite reality we are able to perceive or imagine, might (always) be a little ambitious.

        Then, of course, there is our truly perplexing and 'Buggy' Moral code.
        www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_on_our_buggy_moral_code.html
        We need to continue to evolve.

        It is fortunate that it is in our nature to aspire past mediocrity.
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          Jul 30 2011: QUOTE: "my position is that any attempt to get at the truth using our current means and ultimately subjective understanding to interpret that finite part of the infinite reality we are able to perceive or imagine, might (always) be a little ambitious. We need to continue to evolve."

          Another interesting point. Some hold we can come to know the relationship between the finite and the infinite by using human faculties that are not "developed" in the normal course of events. We seem to sense this possibility; it is at the heart of our hero quests and so on.

          I am sure we will continue to evolve but perhaps we also need to learn more about what evolution has already endowed us with?
  • Jul 29 2011: I'm certain consciousness evolved (but I remain open to alternative sensible explanations).
    Consciousness is generated by the nervous system which in most cases has a brain acting as a control centre. Therefore consciousness is individual and unique to each creature: one brain, one consciousness. Every living thing with a nervous system has a form of consciousness which varies in complexity. Our's is comparatively very complex.
    Our consciousness allows actions based on judgments that can be mentally rehearsed within a generated model of the world. That's what's made us such a successful species.
    Evolution leads to consciousness. But who is to say that that is the end of the journey?
    We shouldn't make the assumption that our current state is at the pinnacle of its development.
    Maybe consciousness itself (as we currently understand it) will evolve into something else. Or maybe we will give consciousness a helping hand with implanted augmentations.

    It can probably be created artificially. Replace one neuron in the brain with a synthetic component that does the same job. Then replace a dozen, a hundred, a thousand, a billion, a whole hemisphere. When you replace all 100 billion neurons you will have an 'artificial' brain with consciousness (probably).
  • Jul 29 2011: My 2 cents:

    Consciousness is pure awareness; that which is left when no longer there is thinking, perceiving, feeling, sensing, etc.
    Therefore, consciousness is the root of all things; the fabric of 'existence'.

    Consciousness doesn't come from anything. Any Thing comes from Consciousness.
    Like asking: "What part of the ocean did this drop of water originate from?

    Does anything exist independent of consciousness?

    All brains seem to be conscious. Do brains therefore create consciousness?
    But correlation is not causation: Does the brain manifest consciousness or is it consciousness that manifests the brain?

    If you imagine yourself to be a potato on a table - the pressure of the table pressing up against you; your potato skin, brown, dry and wrinkly; your innards, firm and watery.
    Is this not the consciousness of the potato?
    Is this fundamentally different from being conscious of our own bodies?

    If you feel your right pinkie toe, for that duration, you are not feeling your left arm.
    If you 'feel' the potato, you are not feeling your body.

    But my left arm is hooked up by nerves that sense electromagnetic forces to my brain which is the seat of consciousness!
    Then where did consciousness go for the patient that reports experiences while temporarily brain-dead?

    Food for thought.
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    Jul 29 2011: Farrukh,

    I think consciousness comes from wherever we seek it.

    Similar to Alva Noe's interpretation: “Consciousness isn’t something that happens; it is something we do or make.” To which I'd add: "and/or choose to engage."

    Andrea
  • Jul 28 2011: I think the question itself is invalid. Consciousnes is an axiom, meaning it is a self evident irreducible primary. It doesn't "come from" anywhere. It just exists. Consciousness is the act of percieving that which exists. In order to type these words, in order to even understand the concepts of these words, I must be conscious. Since consciousness is the act of perceiving existence, you can not "step out of existence" to explain the source of consciousness. It is the source and means by which we gain knowledge. One cannot turn to some other method to gain knowledge of "where consciousness comes from". The very attempt to find a source of consciousness would itself require the use of consciousness.
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    Jul 28 2011: true true, stocks being my personal favorite loop hah
  • Jul 28 2011: Read Dawkins: The Selfish Gene. Maybe all it is is a survival mechanism. What is "mind?" Where does it exist? You can create experiences with creative visualization: injured athletes who "practice in their mind" (hypnotherapy) do better when they return to play than those who "weren't working" and practiced "in real life" every day for 2 weeks. In your mind, you can do it PERFECTLY each time. Where's the "greater mind?" didn't we create that?
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    Jul 28 2011: hah true. Well, Im not as smart as these other guys, but I think we are conscious because we (humans) are the evolved state of the greater Mind, and the Mind's sole purpose is to manifest itself and change.
    I think "where" it comes from just might be the wrong question because now we're putting limits of time and space on something that is infinite.
    I think experiences can be created, like the experience of flying, dreaming, etc. We're getting closer and closer to this with 3- and 4-D movies. So yes, we can create conscious experiences within the 5 senses artificially.
    I don't know, I may be wrong about it all, a lot of these questions just go in a loop
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    Jul 28 2011: www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_our_own_decisions.html
    This is one of the best Ted talks on perception I have every seen. I look forward to reading what you might all have to say.
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    Jul 28 2011: Why do I feel like disagreeing with everyone's posts I read? lol
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    Jul 28 2011: natasha nikulina wrote:
    Christophe,

    "Consciousness is not a suitable subject for scienti¢c investigation because the very notion is ill-de¢ned. We do
    not have anything like a scienti¢cally acceptable de¢nition of consciousness and it is not easy to see how
    we could get one, since consciousness is unobservable "

    could you comment on this?

    I can... I don't think that something needs to be well defined in order to subject it to scientific investigation... (there are a lot of examples of that). Moreover, it might even be a reason to start research... In order to try and understand it better, so we can make a better definition afterwards.

    Consciousness is observable under certain assumptions (through fMRI for example, or through meditation, or thought experiment,...), Something that cannot be measured directly, often can be measured indirectly.

    I would further argue there are a lot of good working definitions for scientists to study consciousness... try and google some.
  • Jul 28 2011: I believe that consciousness is something very subtle. I just wanted to share an experience a lived, and where i felt a collective consciousness in myself. I happened to come accross an indian Lady who's name is Shri Mataji nirmala devi, she's indian and a great personality in India. She teaches sahaja yoga meditation; and once i experienced this meditation, i felt as though there was something much deeper then my emotions,mental or physical being. I was ''connected'' to other people, it's funny to say, but it's a fact. I felt as though i knew the little details of my surroundings,the people arround me. I was thoughtless aware and conscious about everything and everyone i came accross. It's an amazing feeling.
    Warm regards
  • Jul 27 2011: All this talk is usless if the subject is not defined. What is consciousness? The subject should be clearely stated in the post, or else it will only draw a large number of clashing ideas of consciousness, as I was proven when reading a lot of the replies. There is for example a diference between consciousness in theological/mystical views and the materialistical ones. If anyone is to come with a valid point, he/she should base their opinions on at least their own definitions and experiences with conscience, since this was the implied inquery of the thread.
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      Jul 27 2011: You are right about that consciousness is not defined in the post, but the thing with uselessness is not true. Because, I did not define or ask what is consciousness for very specific reasons. First, if one would disagree with my definition of consciousness he would probably choose not to think about it. Second, and the most important one, is that asking or defining what consciousness is, while asking where does the consciousness comes from, would be logical error. Also, I mentioned that one may answer based on anything, and answer does not have to be fact, so that I would get wide range of answers. Thanks for your comment!
      • Jul 27 2011: Farrukh,
        Nice response to Sorin.
        The differences that each individual perspective may present... on the one side the so called "scientific" and on the other the so called "divine" simply create a more dynamic discussion. There is a polarity that develops in such discussions... and can quickly become rather heated. I don't mind at all.
        To try to understand consciousness in such a forum is often difficult because there are of course so many different starting points. But as is otherwise in the world.. one is forced to look at the phenomenon itself. It is not because consciousness is invisible that makes it so hard to get a hold of. But it is rather the assumption that many have about consciousness being bound up with the brain. This is the fallacy that almost everyone has fallen into. Except perhaps those that have had NDE's. They know for a fact that their self consciousness exists free from the physical boundaries of the material brain. As I said earlier, science is on the verge of proving this. .. and when it does.. well .. you can imagine the consequences... what this might mean for mankind.. ??
        • Jul 28 2011: I didn't say animals have self conscience if you read carefully, I even said human children don't have human conscience up to about 7 years old when they start calling themselves "I". I clearelly marked the diference between animal and human conscience (read my previous post again). I too believe in reincarnation, but, there is only so much I can say in 2000 characters. I am trying to make all people understand that clear and concise observation of the human and animal nature can lead us to some insights in the world of conscience. Trancendental conscience can only be achieved by very few of us who are not bound by superstition, be it religious or scientific. And if reincarnation teaches us anything it is that people vary a lot in terms of spiritual evolution, because there is as many paths and choices as there are humans in the world. So when I speak in general terms I aim to explain my view with as many decently open minded people as my experience with people allows me to. So to sum up, my total view of conscience is as follows: inconscious (plants, animals, humans), environmental integration conscience (animals and humans), collective conscience (animals, humans), self consciousnes (humans), and transcendental conscience (flowing within all living things, including higher realm entities called Gods, Devas, angels, and ultimatelly GOD). Matter limits the manifestation of transcendental conscience, so as you delve in materialism higher perceptions become limited. As we free ourselves from high saturated fat, sugar and salt diets we become better persons, we have clearer heads and start enquiring about our higher purposes.
        • Jul 28 2011: I follow Rudolph Steiner's teachings in this sense and it seems most of what you say also uses the same terms. I don't think it is a coincidence but just making sure.
      • Jul 28 2011: I might have been harsh, but I believe a discution gives better answers when it is limited to a more specific frame. It divides people less because of their diferent views, and unites them in finding out the truth rather than reinforce their subjective views. As for my take on the matter, I find it that there is a environment integration consciousness, a group consciousness common to societies (both human and animal, like ants for example) and a self conscience or self awareness (only in humans). The diference must be made because animals definitelly do have a form of conscience, since they interact with their invironment for one period (wake) and retreat from it in another (sleep). Plants, microorganisms, protozoa, nematodes, do not have a consciousness, leaving only organisms that have a central nervous system with consciousness. Children do not have a sense of self awareness until a certain age, hence in a sense are stuck at animal consciousness. If you know this, you can better find the answer to your question. So far the definition would be that consciousness in a broad sense is the ability of an organism with a central nervous system to integrate into it's environment based on instincts and personal experience (be it Pavlovian reflexes or a complex ideology of life). Self consciousness is a trait exclusive to humans, that gives it's holder a sense of being separate from it's environment and peers, a social microcosm if you like. With this evolution, also appeared the religious thought, not found explicitely in the animal kingdom. The religious thought can be considered a construct meant to reintegrate man into the universal frame ecosystems are based on, which gives every organism a place of it's own in the natural order. I call religion a superior ecosystemic integration system, as all it's forms encourage cooperation, and self conscience is not a biological function because animals lack it despite having consciousness, but a higher order spiritual trait.
        • Jul 28 2011: Hello Sorin,
          When we look at the animal kingdom, we can see a reflection of a consciousness without a doubt... and you are closing in on something quite accurately as to what one might call the "group consciousness" or "group ego" or "group soul" if you will...
          The animal does not, as you say, have a self consciousness. It is only mankind that has this. The animal however has a consciousness that is not as "incarnated" as the human being. Don't let this statement startle you. The animal is simply living in a state of consciousness that is more bound up with its environment. That is to say...more... "outside of itself" I like to use the phenomenon of a flock of birds in flight to give a clearer picture here of what I am try to convey. A school of fish present another example of how some animals have an external consciousness that can steer and move them "as a whole"..It's really quite amazing. But here again, you have to leave the idea that consciousness is bound to a physical entity, such as the physical brain. We, as human beings, experience that our consciousness is "within us" and has its "emergence" there. The observation of phenomenon such as a NDE or hypnotism, clairvoyance, mediums and more quickly point us in another direction... we have to ask if consciousness is perhaps something that is free from the physical bondage of the brain...
          Take for example sleep. In sleep, our consciousness is lifted out of the physical body. We.. one can say... ex-carnate. Our consciousness or our retracted from the physical body. And in the morning.. we re-incarnate. So the whole idea of reincarnation takes on a much more real and closer dimension than what we have learned from the religions of the far east.
          So reincarnation is therefore something that we actually do every morning...
          When we reexamine what the word consciousness implies .. we can say that our "concept" of consciousness is growing. Concepts are in continual development.. every day.
        • Jul 28 2011: Hi again Sorin,
          I agree that animals do not have self consciousness .. as I did say in line 4 of my response. I didn't interpret your comment as you saying that animals have a self consciousness.
          You say a lot of very interesting things that I would like to come back to. Time is a little short for me at the moment so perhaps later.
          I think we can share a lot of ideas along these lines.
          The phenomenon that children begin to say "I" to themselves at around the age of three can vary of course but generally speaking it is around this age. Some experience it even earlier. What is happening here is a most special moment in the whole process of the "incarnation" of the spirit being of man/woman
          I would like to go deeper into the levels of consciousness of the plant, animal, mankind but this must wait. We can talk later if you like !
      • Jul 28 2011: Hi Sorin,
        ... a curious coinsidence on a comment concerning the conditions of our consciousness...
        .. and our consensus... in our common considerations my help to clear some conditions created by any casual misconception of the cause of ....clearing our clouded consciousness...

        ... should we branch off and start our own discussion at this point....?
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    Jul 27 2011: @ Wayne Busby:
    " It has been said that there is no form without function, which follows form. "

    I don't understand that. A function implies a telos, doesn't it? so why should a form have function? Or do you mean a function as in mathematics (an equation?)?

    "One problem [read below, please] reviewed.' "

    I think that is apt humbleness of our inferior knowledge of the world compared to what all knowledge of the world might be.

    "I find it curious that consequent to our evolving concepts of self, we as a species have (once again) taken ourselvels out of the loop [] and given overwhelming [] credability to the idea that what we have evolved to percieve of the nature of the universe is the only reality or truth there is."

    How can we otherwise do so? Is there something that cannot be perceived that can have an effect on us? Does it matter if something that has absolutely no influence on our existence exists or not? (My answers are: probably not; maybe, but if discovered, it can be perceived, so existent; No)

    we have good sensors helping us (from infrared to spectrometry,magnets,...)

    "And so we ask questions like "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?""

    Stupid question: the tree falls, produces air-pressure differences, we call that sound waves. Depending on when a soundwave becomes sound (through hearing it, with all neural activity) or actually is sound (which I would define it to be), you might differ in opinion.

    "Is it truly so difficult to accept that there might be conciousness outside of what we can define as such and that it too is listening?"
    Of course it is! I need proof of such a thing! I don't believe anything for which there are no facts supporting its existence.
  • Jul 27 2011: The faculty of awareness lies within the realm of consciousness. We are aware of the fact that we can sit and type letters on the machine... we are also conscious of it. We are awake to what is going on. As for the letters we use in the process of writing we are also conscious in our decision of which letter we choose, which word we choose, we build our sentences logically. We express our thoughts as best we can. Somewhere further back in time, around the first year of school, at age 5 or 6 we learned what the abstract letters "sounded" like and how they could form words, the words which we heard all around us from friends and family. All that we learned at that age we carry still to this day within our consciousness but of course we are not aware of it. Some of us can remember learning the sound of the letters in school but they lie deeply buried in our unconscious mind... but still there. In order to be aware of something we must first pull it up into the light of our thinking or within the framework or our consciousness. To be "aware" is simply bringing the particular object of perception into focus. It can be something in our memory as well as something in our direct circle of observation at the very moment. Everything that you have experienced the surrounding world is within the reach of your conscious mind however they are not so easily accessible. Hypnotism is one tool that can help people reach deeper into these realms within our consciousness, perhaps to repair some damage that has been done to one as a child.
    Awareness then is not the same as consciousness. To be aware of something is to focus ones thought on the object we (our self conscious ego or "I")choose, willingly or unwillingly to perceive. A perception of the senses can forces this focus(awareness) We may perhaps get hit in the face by a baseball that gives the perception of pain.. the pain says to my consciousness or my thinking .. "wow, I'd better get my glove up to catch that ball next time !!
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    Jul 27 2011: Hi Farrukh...

    In my opinion, conciousness came from different situation for different people. Some would gain concious from losing something for themselves and others might gain conciousness from watching other people's tragedy.

    But I think what's important is how to keep the conciousness level for a very long time because some people would forget only within a few days. So how do we really produce a really great impact on a person to make the conciousness last long.
  • Jul 27 2011: well,according to me,consciousness comes from "within". THAT'S IT .
  • Jul 26 2011: Exodus 13:14a

    ehyeh asher ehyeh

    I am the I am

    This is perhaps just one key to understanding the mystery of conciousness. .. just one key...

    Observation of the phenomena in nature is perhaps another.
    How can a flock of birds or a school of fish move so simultaniously...? It's because their consciousness is not bound up with matter such as the human being is.... and so... to mention the human being. Think of how a little child at around the age of 3 years of age suddenly starts refering to himself as " I " ... have you ever thought about that. The "I" is in an "incarnation" process that experiences its own awakening around the age of three ... This is something very interesting.

    Self conciousness exists only in mankind and is the basis for all of our thinking. Consciousness is not the least bit material and neither is it dependent on material for its existence. Thinking however is able to observe itself and coninually correct itself... all within conciousness's framework. This is the amazing thing about the activity of thinking. It is also our key to freedom...freedom from dogma.. scientific or religious... freedom from culture, freedom from parental influence, freedom in fact from our "self" .. our lower self.. that which says for example. ... I want to eat that whole bag of potatoe chips..... or.... I want my neighbors wife.... or I want all your money

    The "I" in me and the "I" in you or in each of us that is reading this is something that can never be created artifically through a machine... and its a foolish notion to think that we can contrive such an instrument.

    Your "I" was present before you were born.... and your "I" will be present after you die.

    NDE's ... in time.... will eventually uncover the latter of these two mysteries of our existence. .. as for proof of the existence of your consciousness before you are born.. well .. maybe we can come back to that later.
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    Jul 26 2011: Consciousness versus awareness? 'Animals' are aware but they don't indulge in self-pity. Is it possible that we can stop feeling sorry for ourselves and attend to real ills and issues in the world? If we raise group and social consciousness significantly maybe the source will reveal itself spontaneously? If not, we'll still be ahead… rather than living in our heads.
  • Jul 26 2011: It´s a very good question, and the eminent neurologist and neuroscientist Antonio Damasio gives the answer in his last book: "Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain". I recommend it.
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    Jul 26 2011: I would say that all actions made are the product of conscious decisions. The only thing that makes us think that we are conscious about something is when are are able to communicate them to somebody else like in words and are able to make out/ predict the "consequences". In other words we think we understand our behaviour. (Like our gut feeling. I think that if we feel something it is a way of understanding something.)

    Ultimately I think that being conscious about something is when we are open to thinking there is a possibility that we aren't really conscious about anything and being able to question everything.
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    Jul 26 2011: Well if we are going to define that shouldn't we also define subconsciousness too???
    • Jul 26 2011: I find myself wondering how we can possible survive if "all actions are the product of conscious decisions" A very great part of our bodies actions are carried out by UN-conscious deciions, like breathin, etc. Some cynics say even claim that NONE of our actions are by "concscious decisions.
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    Jul 26 2011: I suppose you have all seen this?
    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_dennett_on_our_consciousness.html
    • Jul 27 2011: Hard to disagree with Dennett when he suggests people don't want to solve the problems of consciousness.

      Notice that If the title of the talk had been 'Dennett on perception' and Dennett had used the word perception rather than consciousness not much meaning would have been lost.

      Now suppose Dennett had addressed the distinction between perception and consciousness, what might he have done? Well, if he had presented something visual that the audience responded to but which they were nevertheless unable to report seeing, this might go some way toward addressing the issue. In an instance such as this we would be able to distinguish between conscious vision and unconscious vision i.e. between different types of perception. (We need not suppose that such a distinction in types of perception is sharp.) But notice that in this analysis we use 'conscious' as an adjective. Even an experiment such as this does not necessitate the noun form 'consciousness'.

      The idea of consciousness is obtained by progressing from 'I perceive X' to 'I have perceptions of X' to 'I have consciousness of X'. The notion that we have perceptions of X is intended to express the distinction between X in the real world versus our personal impression of it. But, of course, this distinction is nevertheless expressed in terms of our own perception - we cannot get beyond our own personal impression of the world. The production of two types of existences, perceptions and the real, is self delusion. Quite simply, 'consciousness' is unnecessary and wrong. In effect consciousness is an abstraction of the fact that we perceive. It cannot be found in the real world and we only think others have it because we falsely conceive that we have it.

      Dan's problem, much like everyone else, is to conceive of a real world (in terms of his own perception) and then wonder how his own perception operates in that world. It is all just tangled nonsense (heterophenomenology not the least).
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        Jul 27 2011: To be honest I thought I would just put it up in case anyone hadn't seen it - I thought it might be of interest to the contributors to this thread!
        But, what allows us to perceive? What should we call the, as Dennett says, 'combination of cells' that have become 'thinking', perceptive, problem solving (blahdiblahdiblah) machines?
        • Jul 28 2011: Suppose people are objects that perceive, suppose that experience (what others here would probably call consciousness) is what it is like for an object to perceive.
          You ask about how an aggregation of cells can come to think and feel as you do.

          Firstly, we understand ALL experience to arise from perception and so it is better to ask - how do an aggregation of cells PERCEIVE thoughts and feelings? Note that you invite trouble at the outset if you think of cells as HAVING feelings (and note Pinker's comments about our use of concrete language).

          Secondly, we communicate on the assumption that we have a shared understanding of the real world. This works well usually but if you ask how it is that you perceive thoughts and feelings in our shared understanding of the real world then you are asking how you perceive thoughts and feelings in YOUR OWN understanding of the real world, an understanding that is based on your own perception and maintained, while you are considering the matter, through the perception of imagination, memory and language. If you consider these thoughts and feelings as an entity IN or along side your own understanding of the world then you have falsely doubled existences (and created the mind body problem) and needlessly confused the initial assumption that you ARE an object that perceives. You get the same problem when you use empathy and wonder how others can have thoughts and feelings like yours in the real world.

          Thirdly, consideration of the evolution of human concepts make it obvious that progress is not a grab at ultimate certainty. It is absurd to think that progress has culminated in our own ultimate certainty. So it is misguided for commenters here to parade old ideas as certainties. And any new idea is not a grab at ultimate certainty. It doesn't ask to be judged immediately as either true or false, and particularly not with respect to old supposed certainties, but rather to be understood and used competently.
        • Jul 28 2011: Lawrence,
          Can I ask you to elaborate on your second point. ... because I think somewhere along the line there you sort of fell off the proverbial wagon.... It is a critical point in understanding the nature of thinking you are zeroing in on something here that is of most importance ... but I have a hunch you have expresses something that is not really what you mean. .. I have just been criticized for "reading too much into" another persons comments so I want to be sure that what you said is really what I think you thought that you meant.....hmmm What am I getting at? The point where you say that "when you consider these (your own) thoughts and feelings as an entity...etc. also when you say "the assumption that you are a object that perceives ...?? These few things sort of demand a bit of clarification .... if you don't mind.
        • Jul 29 2011: Daniel,
          The "spiritual" views that you have expressed in this discussion are contradictory to mine. I have suggested that "people are objects that perceive" correctly states the relationship between experience and the real. In discussing this, either we examine whether what I have written follows from this proposition, or we look at whether matters of fact contradict the proposition.

          If people are objects that perceive the real then the meaning of the word 'exist' is clear. We say objects exist because they persist regardless of whether we perceive them or not.

          It is standard to say "I am conscious of X". It is standard to distinguish between conscious and unconscious perception. We can abstract the adjective 'conscious' into the noun 'consciousness' just as we can abstract 'tall' to 'tallness'. So suppose I perceive object X. According to the notion that we are objects that perceive then I will say "I perceive X. X exists."
          You, on the other hand, will probably say:
          "I perceive X. X exists.";
          "I perceive X. X exists and my perceptions of X exist." (i.e. you create an additional and unnecessary entity out of the fact that you perceive X);
          "I perceive X. X exists. My perceptions of X exist. I am conscious of X. My consciousness of X exists."
          So I put this proposition to you - that it makes sense to say that tall objects exist but no sense to say that tallness exists. Similarly it makes no sense to say consciousness exists.

          Berkeley rightly argued that if our perceptions of X exist then it is redundant or unnecessary to suppose that X exists. The answer to this absurdity is clear - there is no such existence as our perceptions of X.

          Your language, Daniel, is confused, in my opinion, and contradicted by the facts. You can hardly be surprised that I think so. Do I really need to elaborate?
        • Jul 31 2011: Yes Lawrence,

          You do need to elaborate.. and not just to me but to Websters dictionary, Dictionary.com and Wikipedia and everyone else that might be reading this comment thread....because for 99.999 % of the worlds population "consciousness" does in fact exist and is quite "REAL" Your short circuit is not only between those two wires either.. there are more.

          Human consciousness is the stage upon which concepts and observation meet and become linked to one another. Consciousness is the mediator between thinking and observation.



          It sounds like that for "you" yourself... have just logically proved that consciousness does not exist.... at least in your own mind... or are you perhaps un-conscious...? (excuse me, but I couldn't resist that one)
          For everyone else in the world... consciousness does in fact exist ....

          Let me ask you this..

          Does the thinking that you are doing at this very moment... as you read these words.... does it have any real"ness"...?? Are you fully "aware" of it's reality and whats more important is ... is your aware"ness" something that is "REAL"...?

          I think you'd better go crawl back in bed with Birkeley and see if you (or he) have misunderstood something.... because someone's language here is most certainly confuse and I don't think it's mine....
        • Aug 1 2011: Sorry, this comment was meant for Lawrence, and Thomas too of course, if Thomas is interested.
          I had to go back one more time and read what you quotet from Berkeley. After reading it a second time I think I see your misunderstanding. I have never read Berkeley and I didn't think to start now. However your single quote here from Birk. and your proceeding arguement is perhaps not what Birkeley meant at all. Unless you have quoted something wrong here... that's possible.. and quite human... unless of course you use the copy and glue function...(which I as you know seldom do..) then the problem must be with Birkeley.
          But take a closer look at it yourself. Birkeley simply says.. in other words .. Given the fact that the external world makes impressions on our minds( percepts perhaps by your deffinition and thats OK with me).. (I choose not to use the word consciousness here, because it seems rather "loaded")... I don't know what Birkeley uses. But.... given then the fact that these "real" impressions are made upon us ...is for the simple reason that there must be "real" things out there that make these impressions. Birk. means to say... We don't need to waste our time discussing the fact that they are real or not... of course they are !! .. Birk. says ... of course the outer world is "real" but for by the fact that impressions are made upon our .... mind.....
          Nowhere does he say that consciousness does not exist. Here is where you have jumped the gun.... At least I can't interpret anything in this single quote that you have presented here. If you have more quotes that go further into this aspect of his arguement against consciousness then it might be interesting to read them.
          Because Birk. simply says "Whats real in us as a perception.. must also be real in to outer world." this little statement does't make any preconclusions about the state or condition of our consciousness... it's existence or nonexistence....
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        Jul 28 2011: Thanks Lawrence, a really great reply.

        So are you saying that perception is the only thing that we know exists for sure, and so that should be the basis of investigation?

        And, in the last paragraph, are you just saying that we should not take any of our current or previous ideas as being unquestionable facts?
        • Jul 28 2011: Thanks Adam.

          I'm saying that the real exists and that perception is a process in the real. Yes, we should investigate the real. We know the real because we perceive it. And because perception is mediated our knowledge is uncertain. We know so little about the real (and therefore about ourselves). Human experience is about perception and so improving our understanding of perception will improve our understanding of ourselves.

          I think we can regard our current science as being the result of a long and very difficult struggle. It fits into the pattern of the evolution of perceiving objects, the evolution of communication and language and the evolution of concepts. It may be that we will reach a practical end to discoveries but it is hard to see why this would be so or must be so in principle. Gell-Mann's vision of producing a complete axiomatic physics through the pursuit of symmetry must be respected but I do not think that it follows that such a complete physics must be the final word. In his talk he compared the pursuit of fundamental particles to taking the layers from an onion. Such an image suggests completion, but I see no reason to accept such an idea in principle.

          You might want to distinguish between facts and the theories (or concepts) that comprehend (gather together) facts. But regardless of the distinction, no facts or theories are unquestionable in principle - we can, quite literally, question them. We do not question, however, a huge number of facts and the theories that comprehend them, and for that reason we say that they are true. We are at liberty to revisit our truth sorting at any time.
      • Jul 29 2011: Lawrence,
        I must say it again.... I think I was right... you are running as hard as you can to keep up with the proverbial wagon...
        I don't have the time to point out your misconceptions at this moment but will try to get back to you tomorrow. You can in the mean time study once more what you have just said.
        Start with Berkeley "There is no such existence as our perception of x" and another place you start with "Suppose people are objects that perceive." This sounds at the moment like double talk but I don't have the time just now to look into it further. I'll be out the rest of the evening so it will have to wait.
        • Jul 29 2011: You should cut and paste to quote. There is a difference between "There is no such existence as our perception of x" and "There is no such existence as our perceptions of x". 'Perceptions' is used in the sense of Berkeley's perceptions in the mind. 'Perception' usually refers to the process of perception. I can't imagine why anyone would write the sentence you have quoted.

          You use words like 'real' and 'exist' in such a disordered way it is hardly surprising that what I write makes no sense to you.

          I say again: In discussing this, either we examine whether what I have written follows from this proposition, or we look at whether matters of fact contradict the proposition. To do this you will need to understand it first. It is pointless for you to just write more of what you mean.
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        Aug 2 2011: QUOTE: "The idea of consciousness is obtained by progressing from 'I perceive X' to 'I have perceptions of X' to 'I have consciousness of X'. The notion that we have perceptions of X is intended to express the distinction between X in the real world versus our personal impression of it. But, of course, this distinction is nevertheless expressed in terms of our own perception - we cannot get beyond our own personal impression of the world. The production of two types of existences, perceptions and the real, is self delusion. Quite simply, 'consciousness' is unnecessary and wrong."

        Hi Lawrence,

        The question is: "Where do you think consciousness comes from?"

        And your answer appears to be, "It does not come from anywhere; it does not exist; it is an illusion based on extrapolating the process of perception and going from "I perceive X" to the erroneous conclusion that "I am conscious of X."

        As such, consciousness is an abstraction and is not "real" in the way that, say, the object is real or the act of perceiving is real.

        As you put it, consciousness is nothing more than an "idea." (QUOTE: "The idea of consciousness...")

        Is that an accurate (not to say complete) understanding of your position?
        • Aug 2 2011: Thanks Thomas.

          You interpretation is pretty much correct. I worry a little about going from the idea that objects are real to the idea that the act of perceiving is real. Moving away from concrete language is a hazardous thing to do.
          I am comfortable using the word conscious as an adjective because we use it to distinguish different types of perception. So the erroneous conclusion is not 'I am conscious of X' but rather 'I have consciousness of X' (or 'I have existent perceptions of X in my mind').

          If we say people are objects that perceive then I think we satisfactorily account for the relationship between experience and the real. This understanding exposes consciousness to be a misunderstanding of perception: 'I perceive X' is wrongly interpreted as the perceiver having something they don't - 'I have consciousness of X'.

          It worries me when you suggest I am saying consciousness is nothing more than an idea. The notion that people are objects that perceive is an idea (in modern usage). What could it mean to say 'nothing more than an idea'? In my view we try to use words in as comprehensive/meaningful way as possible.
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      Jul 27 2011: I hope the talk of Antonio Damasio comes online soon,

      http://blog.ted.com/2011/03/02/ted2011-report-session-4-deep-mystery/

      Might shed a good light on the current discussion
  • Jul 26 2011: Consciousness comes from within. Its a personal experience, unique and individual. Paradoxically, it is a global phenomenon. Every living organism can and does exhibit some form of consciousness. The origins of consciousness are as unique and varied as the person trying to explain them. It can be ascribed to a higher power, it can be ascribed to a collection of cells, to some sort of energy wave etc. Science is simply one of the avenues that one chooses to try and explain this complex phenomenon based on fact. The facts that we know as of now are :
    1. The brain or nervous system has been shown to be critically implicated in this phenomenon. (For simplicity's sake I'm only taking higher vertebrate organisms which exhibit a distinct "brain", for it is another discussion whether organisms that lack a "Brain" but respond to stimuli do/don't have a consciousness.)
    2. Emergence of consciousness can be traced from lower animals to higher ones on the basis of complex behavioural tasks exhibited by them. This can be correlated to the statement that evolution has an important role to play in the emergence of consciousness. (Here consciousness means complex behaviour)

    Here we come at the nub of the problem. How does one define consciousness? What constitutes to be a level/ form/ type/ kind of consciousness?

    This is a very "Hard Problem" facing the explanation of consciousness. Simply put, and I Quote from an article by G.A. Ascoli et al from George Manson University (who in fact cited Chalmers 1996), Fairfax, Virginia "For human researchers, the occurrence of subjective feelings is a fact, not an illusion. But the same researchers cannot scientifically infer the same distinction about any other person. This conundrum has been stated as the “Hard Problem of consciousness”"
    Does this mean that we can never define or explain consciousness? Not yet. But I'm optimistic that it will happen. Until then, the simple answer to the question is "I do not know."
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    Jul 26 2011: After submitting, I remembered I didn't quite explain why I didn't read the conversation below. I just wanted to post first, before I saw what other people were sharing, to see if there were any similarities.
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    Jul 26 2011: I think about this all the time, but I'm not reading the conversation. As I explain why, I will reveal my opinion on the matter. It's an exercise to test the simulacra (see: Baudrillard).

    I study culture as an anthropology major. Turns out, our greatest tool in developing culture and building civilization is our most complex set of mirror neurons that literally connect us on a telepathic level.

    Cymatics shows us how sounds creates shapes, and of course atoms create a specific vibration. Each element of the periodic table is like a different note, with every combination of which is like playing a chord. Everything is literally humming. Consciousness likely lands within a certain octave or what have you, with varying degrees of complexity.

    Different kinds of cells band together and develop increasingly more elaborate designs of organisms the better they are able to harmonize as the case may be.

    As you can see my insights are merely that. This idea came to me through my experiences in meditation using binaural beats successfully to achieve a deeper, more consistent practice. So, forgive the fact that I don't really have scientific backing for this. Isn't that the fun of science though? While we get to apply law, we get to explore theory.

    Let me throw this in there. The key to success may just be to view the universe and our purpose in it in this fashion. "Playing" out of tune causes dischord among civilization as a whole. But even playing together still appears to be out of tune with the flora and fauna, who add their own melody. I'm sure we could expand that idea on to include everything else on the planet and ultimately, the universe. The more we can harmonize as we perform this symphony, the sweeter the song.

    Now, I'm not going to go through and cite examples of all the other cultures, schools of thought, religions and so on around the world and throughout history that hold a very similar view. Let me just say, as a student of anthropology, there's a mountain.
  • Jul 26 2011: It is refreshing to hear Pinker say in Language and Thought:
    "I think the biggest picture of all would take seriously the fact that so much of our verbiage about abstract events is based on a concrete metaphor ..."
    and
    "It is very hard to find any example of abstract language that is not based on some concrete metaphor."

    These remarks beg to be applied to the concepts of mind and consciousness.
    Think back to Berkeley and the traditional understanding that perceptions are IN the mind. Note Pinker's confusion in "How the Mind Works" (1997 Penguin) where he writes both:
    "The mind is a system of organs of computation ..." (p21)
    and
    " .. the mind is not the brain but what the brain does" (p24)

    In the same book Pinker writes "Hidden behind the panels of consciousness must lie fantastically complex machinery .." (p19) as if we seek to explain vision by supposing we see a panel of consciousness.

    Recognising 'mind' and 'consciousness' as abstract concepts underpinned by concrete metaphor gives some insight as to why there is so much confusion regarding their relationship to the concrete (the real). My recent comments at http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2011/07/09/3263706.htm on a talk by David Chalmers touch on this issue. In summary - we can state the relationship of experience to the real by supposing that people are objects that perceive. In this understanding we say objects exist but there is no basis for supposing 'mind' and 'consciousness' exist and no basis for thinking that experience is IN the real or PRODUCED by the real.
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    Jul 26 2011: Have you ever tried to catch a fly, or grab a bird, or a feral rabbit. We can't catch them because they are conscious of us. We think of consciousness as that which we can describe, and it's usually a deviation from comfort, a sense of danger. The danger could be too much heat for our body to dissipate putting ourselves iat risk for heat stroke. Yet, this feeling is shared by any warm blooded animal, who will take action finding shade, slowing down or drinking water to allow evaporative cooling.

    We also are aware of our interpersonal surroundings-something most important for we humans. We can tell whether those around us are friendly, rather than hostile, even incipiently so. And we adjust our behavior accordingly. Like when we are overheated, we may change our mood, our conversation, our expectations. Or under other circumstances we may leave the area. Or we may have another shot , or smoke a joint, to change our responses or how we project ourselves to others.

    The evolutionary need to be aware of our surroundings, whether at a cocktail party or walking in "the valley of the shadow of death" is as so basic as to defy terminology. It is fear, it is joy. It is laughter an tears. But it is certainly not exclusively human, even if we are the only species who can talk about it.
  • Jul 25 2011: Hi Griffin: as an afterthought, you might be interested in a book by Alan Watts, "the Taboo of Knowing whoYou Are". H goes into this sort of thing much better than I do.
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    Jul 24 2011: It comes from your brain. More specifically the connectome.
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    Jul 23 2011: "I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness." – Max Planck (As quoted in The Observer - 25 January 1931)

    I found the above quote, posted by Paul Becke, over in the thread called: "Are science explanations of the universe tending more and more toward metaphysics and philosophy?" I went looking for more Planck quotes and and found the following:

    "Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature, for in the final analysis we ourselves are part of the mystery we are trying to solve."

    EDIT:

    I disagree with the last quote (and that doesn't mean I agree with the first one) on the grounds that it is based on a particular scientific paradigm that excludes whole sections of the universe because they are not "objective."

    Removing human experience from science is like removing a CPU from a computer so that we might better understand the mechanism involved in its operation. (Not the best metaphor but you get the point.)

    And I also agree with the last quote (and that doesn't mean I disagree with the first one) on the grounds that "science" cannot solve anything; scientists (and other human beings) on the other hand can, I believe, "solve the ultimate mystery of nature" ... but only if we include ALL of nature. And that includes humans and our particularly unique place in the cosmos as conscious, aware and experiential beings.

    No consciousness; no (resolved) string theory.

    [Of course, to "solve the ultimate mystery of nature" will require that "science" accept that "experience" trumps "explanation" ... or, at least, that it accepts we cannot simply exclude subjective experience because we can't verify it empirically. Science will be resolved within the scientist - not in the external environment.]
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    Jul 23 2011: I wish I knew the answers.Anyway let me saay what I think and feel.People have consciousness to guide them.It is the energy or power which guides us.Many a time we hear people saying,"My conscience doesn't allow me to do it."I think it must have come from the same place from where we have come.I do not think that it can be created but can be expanded.
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    Jul 23 2011: I wish I knew the answers.Any way let me say what I think and feel. we have consciousness to guide us.Many a time we hear someone saying "My conscience doesn't allow me to do that"So there is an inherent power or energy with in us which acts as a guide.It must have come from the same place from where we have come.I do not think that it can be created artificially,but it can be expanded.
  • Jul 23 2011: Human consciousness comes from the first man. The first man had to realize in order to live another generation, he or she must give birth and protect that offspring even from him or herself. This is what we called the first selfless and self awareness act that gave the behavior of consciousness.
  • Jul 22 2011: I don't think consciousness can be artifically created with anything resembling a computer as we know them now. Putting aside obvious pitfalls such as Godel, perception is limited to the store of symbols which allow categorization of stimulii. Humans have the right stuff to lay down new symbols when encountering original stimulii, and we then seek to discover attributes that can be mapped to the new symbol. In this way we increase our corpus of knowledge and understanding. In contrast, there is no algorithm for creating new symbols without some a-priori instructions of what to look for. I.E. can an algorithm discover the concept of round by looking at pictures of round things without first being provisioned to seek roundness? In this way, it will never contemplate.

    I have a gut feeling our own consciousness comes from a uniquely strong ability to feed experience into the same pattern-matching "circuitry" used to record and classify experience. The pattern matching would naturally be proficient at altering the terms of an experience, allowing simulations to be performed on what was, to what could be, where our truth-scoring "circuitry" can accept or reject a simulation as favorable or harmful to our goals of seeking gain.
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    Jul 21 2011: My perception is that consciousness takes two forms. An inner-consciousness, and an outer-consciousness.

    Each individual life has an inner-conscious, which is their cognitive awareness of being in the present. The interior consciousness is, in so many words, your unique reality in relation to time. As humans, we have nerves that feed our interior consciousness real-time data from the environment. This form of consciousness is what forms your understanding of yourself and the active thinking we all do constantly. I believe the inner-consciousness is very well formed in all life.

    The second form of consciousness, is the exterior. Outer-consciousness is the awareness of the world around you and your relationship to it. This is more than just what you see, hear and feel. The exterior consciousness sees the universe as a whole, and thus understands your individual involvement in it. For example, many people understand that most of the industrial processes taking place on this planet currently are negatively effecting the environment. This is a consciousness that exceeds the limits of your inner-consciousness, and interprets systems as a whole, not just how they directly effect you. I believe exterior consciousness to be a acquired perception because of this.
  • Jul 21 2011: i think it come from our daily life,in our country,there is a saying"One will dream what he thinks during the day."
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    Jul 21 2011: When a man is parched by thirst
    The thought of water brings no relief –
    Only drinking can quench his thirst:
    So information differs from experience.
    The exhausting search for information
    For mere objective knowledge
    Becomes needless with meditative experience
    Which quickly leads to equanimity.
    - Mipham Jamyang Namgyal Gyatmso (1846-1912)
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      Jul 21 2011: This one: "I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake"?

      This one: "Cogito ergo sum"?

      Or this one: "Pass the salt?"
    • Jul 21 2011: I see once again you are asserting the idea that you do not like Christianity!

      I sense childhood trauma.

      In the sense of the debate: that quote actually makes very little sense. I think so I am? You are, (assuming he means, he exists), because of a collection of atoms and energy. Thought has very little to do with someone's being. Nor does is it really relevant to the topic of conciousness... You continue trolling, my good sir.
      • Jul 21 2011: Thought has little to do with someone's being? What manual did you read that in? How can you make such a claim when we don't even know how to pose the question?
        • Jul 21 2011: Just because it has the word "think" in it, doesn't mean it's related to consciousness.

          " I think so I am "

          So, the idea is that Descartes thinks he exists, so he exists? I suppose you could twist that into the idea that thinking about being conscious makes you conscious, but that clearly makes no sense whatsoever.

          We do know how to pose the question. The question is : why are we conscious? how did it happen? It happened because our brains are larger than non-conscious creatures. There was no thinking involved. Infact, I doubt thinking can occur without consciousness.

          But you're right. Thought has little to do with someone/something's being. Plants do not think, yet the still are. Can we please cut the philosophical stuff, and just use what's obvious? PS: You can read that in any manual labeled "grade 6 biology"...
  • Jul 20 2011: I think consciousness is a verb, not a noun. So for me, it's like saying, "Where do you think 'running' comes from?" It's confusing.
  • Jul 20 2011: I would suggest the work of David Laberge (2001) who bring an interresting explanation of consciousness. He suggests that the attention (and hence consciouness) comes from the activities in long apical dendrites of triangulare neurones.
    This explanation is totally neurological, but his arguments are quite solids and very insterresting.
    LaBerge, D. (2001). Attention, consciousness, and electrical wave activity within the cortical column. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 43, 5-24.
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    Jul 20 2011: Consciousness can be divided into

    body Consciousness

    pranic Consciousness

    mind Consciousness

    knowledge Consciousness

    Spiritual Consciousness

    our ulimate aim is to know the purpose of our birth

    consciousness about body/life/mind/knowledge/spirit(AAthma)


    Spiritual is entirely different from ritual which leads to religious
    fundamentalism.

    Everybody has the ability to reach spiritual consciousness through
    meditation.

    Every body is doing meditation unknowingly

    Meditation is nothing but thinking

    Human being has the gift of having vertical spinal cord with brain at the top

    The body (Micro cosam) has the ability to link with macro cosam(Universe)

    During meditation iT can be felt

    Micro macro link will pave the way to cosmic travel

    Cosmic travel will establish cosmic communication

    The communication opens The AAKASHIC RECORD which is pre programmed.

    Programming is based on Automation

    The universe is a system in other words MIND.

    m.namasivayam
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      Jul 20 2011: Dear m.namasivayam,

      I understand when we get into the "refined points" in a discussion of topics such as consciousness, that language is not "refined enough" to communicate clearly.

      For example you say, "Consciousness can be divided into ... body Consciousness ... pranic Consciousness ..." and so on.

      I take your point but suggest it would be equally valid to say that consciousness cannot be divided at all.

      This is one of the places were I would make a distinction between the words "consciousness" and "awareness." We can direct our awareness to those disparate attributes we hold in our consciousness but consciousness itself is not, and cannot be, "fragmented."

      You also say, "our ulimate aim is to know the purpose of our birth" and "Meditation is nothing but thinking"

      I would suggest that "knowing the purpose of our birth" is an unnecessary abstraction, at least one step removed from fulfillment: children do not know (or even think about) the "purpose" of their birth; and yet I would say they are fulfilling their "ultimate aim."

      Happy people do not ask, "What is the purpose of my life?"

      Would you agree?

      I prefer the definition of meditation that it is the place WHERE thinking stops.

      NOTE: It is not the time WHEN thinking stops; it is the place beyond which thinking cannot go.

      A good metaphor might be a jet travelling beyond the speed of sound - the sound it is generating still exits but the pilot cannot hear it.

      Your comment "The body (Micro cosam) has the ability to link with macro cosam(Universe)" brings to mind a favourite definition of "human being:" A human being is the point at which the finite and the infinite meet.
  • Jul 19 2011: In my opinion, it is the being that we are without our bodies. These vehicles we use on this planet are limited and failable but allow our beings to experience life here. Ithink that is why there is a collective consciousness and why some of us are able to remember past lives. The brain physician and scientist, Jill Bolte Taylor, was able to experience the feeling of being and found how difficult it is to be alive on this planet without all the tools our bodies and brains provide for us. This is further proof for me that we exist beyond the limited time our bodies can endure.
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    Jul 19 2011: In 1927, instead of committing suicide, Buckminster Fuller committed "ego cide", dedicating hismelf and all his energies to indepedent service to humanity focused on a sustainable earth.He called his life "Guinea Pig B"( B for Buckie ). The experiment was a complete seat of the pants faith that the cosmos, the great consciousness, would provide all that was necessary for any individual willing to to plug his special talents and gifts into serving humanity, serving the earth, making it sustainable

    Writing a few weeks before his death and addressing especially the world's young people, Buckie sized up the "Guinea Pig B" experiment, declared his hypothesis proven by his own life and urged the world's youth to do the same

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/4811912/Guinea-Pig-B-Buckminster-Fuller

    He urged the world's youth not to preach or teach or proseltyze but just to "do" just plug what they have into serving humanity, serving the earth and to trust that the cosmos will pave the way and allow that to come into being.

    Buckie's entire life was an experiment of partnership with consciousness.

    What he learned, what he demonstrated, is even more relevant now in this time of the plutonomy's grip pn the world..and in our state of alienation and disenfranchisement.
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    Jul 19 2011: For me its about feeling yourself, our own presence , something or someone that keeps on going unaware of outside world ..................something vague which makes you aware of yourself.........something like that.........
  • Jul 19 2011: Consciousness is an assimilation and / or an awareness of information, as it becomes conscious processeses. It appears to be omnipresent and nonlocal.Consciousness lies beyond and within time and space perhaps as a hologram of potentialities. Like the universe it is expanding,exponentialy. It comes from the enlightening of questions of who, what when where , how, and what am I?
  • Jul 19 2011: Search for Dr. Amit Goswami, Ph.D - Quite an interesting view on the subject. If you have netflix, look up the Quantum Activist Documentary.
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    Jul 19 2011: Despite several years of education in Psychology and neuroscience, I have to admit that I am far from sure of where consciousness comes from. I have looked at this discussion several times and now finally the best contribution I can make turns out to be the most honest. I don't know. Even my study of faiths is not definative for me. Consciousness is certainly connected in its varying forms to the brain's function but altered states of consciousness like drug states, near death experiences and others only seem to make the decisions more elusive.
  • Jul 19 2011: Honest answer, I don't know. BUT I would propose a hypothesis.
    Consciousness is no doubt ancient in the extreme, possibly going all the way back to the beginning.
    The "big bang" or whatever it is. Provided for by a paradoxical nothingness.
    And thats all I have to say about that.
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      Jul 19 2011: Unity of opposites and all that?

      Paraphrasing wildly: when Christ's followers asked him what they should say to people who asked them "tough questions," he told them to say they were from God.

      When they asked him what they should do if they were asked for a "sign," he told them to say, "God is a movement and a rest; a movement and a rest."

      [And, as you no doubt know, you won't find that in the KJV]
      • Jul 19 2011: Yes. I guess "unity of opposites" could be a way to say it. "God is movement and rest; a movement and a rest" would be another. I should disclaimer now that I am atheist. I think of god as an x-factor or a variable or a missing procedure or something like that.

        The discussion I think Farrukh is going for though is more about if science is up to the task of explaining the thing. And I think it is.

        So here is how I see it in my head. You got "void" and you got consciousness. Both of which create each other faster then the speed of light or outside of linear time. Then you got human being who act as a lens by which consciousness can explore reality.

        Side note: I am a computer science student who dreams of writing a singularity simulation.

        Alternate explanation might be that consciousness nothing more then the sum of a persons self awareness.
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          Jul 19 2011: QUOTE: "Yes. I guess "unity of opposites" could be a way to say it. "God is movement and rest; a movement and a rest" would be another. I should disclaimer now that I am atheist."

          Yeah, I think there are lots of ways to say "it." Each one is cloaked in the metaphors of its age.

          I'm pretty sure that even atheists can be conscious human beings (assuming consciousness exists, of course.)

          When we speak of consciousness (if it exists), there is no reason to assume that human beings have not experienced it at every stage of their evolution.

          So, in the age of Christ, consciousness (if that's what he was describing) might be referred to as God (or a movement and a rest.) In the age of reason, it might be referred to as pure reason. In our age which is unique but is also affected by the accretion of all that has come before, we might refer to it as "energy" or a "singularity" ... or anything we feel an affinity for.

          But, as I have mentioned before, simply because we have a name for a thing does not mean we know what "the thing" is. It doesn't even mean there is "a thing." There might be only a word or a name.

          That's why I keep asking if anyone actually knows what consciousness is.
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          Jul 19 2011: Thanks Thomas..The gnostic Gospels, especially the gospel of Thomas are much referred to and much revered in our contemplative community..I wholly approve personal interpretations that make them more accessible to others.
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          Jul 19 2011: Thoams @Gospel of Thomas ,Logia 50..yes..see it ( same source I use, by the way)

          Thank you Thomas.
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          Jul 19 2011: @Abirham..ancient wisdoms

          Yes, The teachings of Jesus, most of which are excluded from the New Testament, are very much in the tradition of the ancient wisdoms and that is very clear in the gnostic gospels, especially the gospel of Thomas where even the style is more like the koan style

          .Jesus grew up, plied his trade and began his late age very short ministry out of not just the wisdom teachings of Judaism ( including the then oral traditions of Kabala before it was cast to writing) but also the many ancient eastern traditions.His teachings , and the way he lived his life and taught are very much in the ancient wisdom traditions.

          Modern wisdom master, Cynthia Bourgeault, the head of my contemplative conmmunity, in her writing brings this forward..Wisdom Way of Knowing and the Wisdom Jesus are two excellent examples.

          Ken Wilber's premise is that all of the wisdom traditions. while using very different sounding and seeming paths, all come from the same source and lead to the same place

          ..I certainly feel that in my own contemplative practice where at any moment on my journey I am informed by sufi wisdom, flower garland buddhism, kabala, modern unitive masters like Rudolph Steiner or Valentin Tomberg.

          They feed me not like a buffet but more like an unfolding where what is next is here or there or sometimes in very unexpected places ( like chanting, african drumming or abstract painting)

          .It is all fed from the same etenrnal spring, from the same living waters.
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          Jul 19 2011: @ Jim Lloyd ( Am I missing something here..mystical v poeticHi Jim..where have you been..?/Nice to see you here

          .I think you are right that the similarities in ancient wisdom traditions arise from some fundamentals truths about the human expereience..about what works best.

          .There was a BBC series with OIllie Steeds and and a journalist (Mark?????) who visited incredibly isolated tribes who didn't know each other and hadn't had any contact with the outside world. I was really taken with the cultural similarities, the tribal law similarities, the taboos, the belief systems.Seems logical that all human groups would independently discover that cooperation and ideas of the commonn good. are the way to go..that this practical aspect of culture co-creates consciousness..that underneath it all..even underneath mysticism and poetry there are universal truths about humanity, about being human that we all honor. .
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        Jul 19 2011: @ Thomas quoting Christ

        Gospel of Thomas? Secret Gospel of John? Don't recognize it in the form of your paraphrase,Thomas. Do you do your own translations from the greek?.
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          Jul 19 2011: Gospel of Thomas (no relation.)

          Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where did you come from?', say to them, 'We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image.' If they say to you, 'Is it you?', say, 'We are its children, we are the elect of the living father.' If they ask you, 'What is the sign of your father in you?', say to them, 'It is movement and repose.'"

          No, I don't do my own translations beyond individual words here and there (like "sin.")
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        Jul 19 2011: Thomas.

        .I just re read all 114 Logia from the Gospel of Thomas and didn't see that one..do you have a cite?

        The closest is logia 61.the query between Salome and Jesus.

        "Jesus said, "Two will recline on a couch; one will die, one will live."

        Salome said, "Who are you mister? You have climbed onto my couch and eaten from my table as if you are from someone."

        Jesus said to her, "I am the one who comes from what is whole. I was granted from the things of my Father."

        "I am your disciple."

        "For this reason I say, if one is whole, one will be filled with light, but if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness."
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          Jul 19 2011: Hi Lindsay,

          http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gthlamb.html

          Verse 50.
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          Jul 19 2011: QUOTE: "Jesus said, "Two will recline on a couch; one will die, one will live."

          Very very similar to another verse in the Rig Veda:

          "Two beautiful birds very closely-connected and good friends are perched on the same tree. Of the pair, one eats the tasteful fruit of the tree, while the other one looks on, not eating."

          I feel this shows the commonality of the various systems of consciousness experience around the world. Jesus as the Son is the bird that eats the fruit, while the Father is the bird that doesn't eat, but looks on.

          Or, each individual is the bird that eats the fruit so that bird will enjoy/suffer ( = die), while the Supreme One is the bird that does not eat, so it will not be involved at all ( = live).
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          Jul 19 2011: QUOTE: "Two beautiful birds very closely-connected and good friends are perched on the same tree. Of the pair, one eats the tasteful fruit of the tree, while the other one looks on, not eating."

          Both birds could be within you.
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          Jul 20 2011: QUOTE: "Both birds could be within you."

          Absolutely! I think that is the first and oldest interpretation.
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          Jul 20 2011: QUOTE: "Am I still missing something vital about the mystical interpretation here?"

          Jim, does your question suggest there is a distinction between "poetic and "mystical" along the lines of:

          A poetical expression is a creative statement referencing a natural phenomenon;

          and:

          A mystical expression is a creative statement referencing a super-natural phenomenon?

          If so, what might be missing is a common agreement as to where we draw the line between natural and super-natural.

          There are experiences that are considered "common place" to some of us; and the same experiences would be considered "mystical" by some of us.

          A lot of this is just "a language thing." For example, (this is a super simplified account of my own experience:) I have travelled the world, and for reasons too complicated to explain in 2000 characters, have reason to believe that many of the people I have interacted with have, at least some, experiences, that we share in common. However, when they describe their experience, they use language, examples and metaphors they have transposed from their earlier experiences and from their own cultural influences. The result is, it would seem to an observer, that we might be talking about different things (and, of course, there is no guarantee we were not!)

          Some of them used language that was prosaic, some poetic, some mystical, some religious, some scientific, and so on. And yet they were all discussing, or, at least describing, (apparently) the same thing.

          Often, the language could have been (and sometimes was) a barrier to understanding. The language often erected walls that were not there previously.

          And, as I say, the language was an artifact of previous experience and was not directly related to what we had in common. The experience did not require any "culturally sanctioned" descriptors.

          I had to learn to listen to the message "behind" the words.

          In the end, I came to the conclusion we are all the same. We just describe our "sameness" differently
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          Jul 20 2011: Jim, I will try to explain to the best of what I understand and have experienced. The steps to the process:

          1) Realize existence of individualized being/consciousness/energy, and an undivided single blob of universal being/consciousness/energy.

          2) Reason out that there is just one energy in reality, so the individual "I" energy is the same as the undivided "It" energy.

          3) However, the "I" is shaped by a body, and identifies with the body and separates out from the undivided energy. The "I" is like a scoop of ice cream out of the undivided energy.

          4) When the "I" energy has an experience of losing this separation or individuality, it feels blurring of boundaries and immense delight through its senses.

          5) Then the "I" energy tries to express in various concrete ways the experience that was subtle. Some of these expressions are afterthoughts, meant to explain the experience through the relations of everyday situations.

          Steps 1-3 are observations. Step 4 is the "mystical" experience. Step 5 is the poetic expression.

          So when Jesus talks about 2 lying on a couch, the one that dies is the individual energy, because it will lose itself once the body dies. The one that lives is the undivided energy, because it has always been undivided, so there's no change for it.

          Think of a glass vase: the air inside the vase is shaped by it, whereas the air outside is "full" or undivided. When you break the vase, the air in the vase loses its shape so it "dies", but it merges with the air outside, which has lived on undivided.

          Step 4 (mystical experience) is not required for the conclusion - you can go from Step 3 to Step 5. However, it is similar to describing an accident versus being in the accident. It is like the difference between an outside observation versus an insider view.
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          Jul 20 2011: Sometimes there are descriptions of the experience itself, and not an afterthought about it.

          When a mystic says, "A sweet wave has risen up from the ocean, it has flooded everywhere", there are paradoxes. The ocean is saltwater, and how can a single wave flood everywhere? Here the ocean is the undivided source of all water, so it symbolizes the undivided energy. Why is it sweet? Because the experience was delightful. The wave is one part of the ocean, so it symbolizes the individual energy. However not being different from the ocean water, the "flood" represents the unity of all energy, or the breaking of the vase.

          The above example is experience and expression together. The expression need not be poetic, but can also be in terms of science. You could say you jumped from the s-orbital to the p-orbital, meaning greater energy level and more freedom.
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          Jul 20 2011: QUOTE: "The above example is experience and expression together."

          The above example is experience and expression together ... for whom?

          No description - no matter how precise - no matter how poetic - can adequately convey to another the experience of the elocutionist.

          At best, an expression can "point the way."

          We can describe our own experience and, if another person's account matches our own (even remotely,) assume we may have a shared foundation. At some point, the probability might approach certainty - describing drinking orange juice, for example - but insofar as communication is concerned, there will always be "room for doubt."

          Experience. [Person "A"]

          Describe. [Person "A"]

          Listen. [Person "B"]

          Act. "Act" ... Not "think about." [Person "B"]

          Experience. - Compares own description of experience with Person "A's" [Person "B"]

          Understands. [Person "B"]
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          Jul 20 2011: QUOTE: "The above example is experience and expression together ... for whom?"

          Yes, point taken. The experience and expression hold good only for the person who experienced.

          The power of symbols is that they are transferable. Like you said in your earlier post,

          "I had to learn to listen to the message "behind" the words."

          The intent of the symbols is transferred "behind the scenes", and the words are different. I cannot put my finger on it, but there seems to be an innate relationship between the external world and internal images.
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          Jul 21 2011: QUOTE: "I cannot put my finger on it, but there seems to be an innate relationship between the external world and internal images."

          That makes sense. This quote from Louis Cozolino is, I think, relevant:

          "It is safe to assume that the self consists of many layers of neural processing that develop from the bottom up as we grow. The first systems of internal bodily sensations are joined by sensory-motor systems, added to by emotional and cognitive processing, and later topped off with abstract ideas and beliefs. All of these systems are woven together in the context of our relationships. This entire multilayered experience is then described in a concocted life story and labeled with the term 'I.'" (Cozolino, 2006)

          Essentially our cognitive and perceptual repertoire is built upon a foundation of "internal bodily sensations." So, anything we experience, at whatever level in the hierarchy we connect with it, will result in a reverse cascade to some internal bodily sensation.

          If you believe Cozolino, that is.
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          Jul 21 2011: Hi Jim,

          I liked all of your post (gave it a thumb up) but selected only this one line to comment on:

          "I readily admit that science is better at analysis and weaker at synthesis"

          I think that's what the scientists are for - the synthesis.
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        Jul 19 2011: Hi Thomas,

        QUOTE: " 'It is movement and repose.'"

        That's just amazing, because in one of the Upanishads, this verse occurs:

        "It moves, It moves not, It is a-far, It is close near, It is within everything, It is outside of all this."
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          Jul 19 2011: Hi Abhiram,

          Shared experiences will lead to shared descriptions.

          I have a friend who said something like, "Do not read the scriptures; strive to experience what those who wrote the scriptures experienced."

          I think it's good advise.

          Let's assume that humans can experience a state of pure consciousness (unless you have had - or more accurately, are having - such an experience; then you won't have to assume such a thing.) Now let's assume that all humans have the capacity for such an experience.

          What would happen if, over the eons, some of those people who have had such an experience wrote about it?

          Well, I can think of two or three:

          1) There would be common descriptors in much of what they write.

          2) There would be differences reflecting the quality of the writer's talent and the epoch in which he or she lived.

          3) People WHO HAVE NOT HAD THE SAME EXPERIENCE as the authors would read their work and form "their own conclusions." Their conclusions would HAVE TO BE wrong ... (even if they "accidentally" guessed right, once in a while.)
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          Jul 21 2011: Hey Abhiram,

          You seem to be a student of the Vedas; do you know where the line, "However you worship me, I will come*," comes from?

          I think Kṛṣṇa says it to Arjuna ... but I have not been able to find it.

          -----------------------

          EDIT: * I heard this line spoken in a discourse and, as I say, have not been able to find it. Perhaps it is a synthesis of the entire Chapter 12 in the Bhagavad Gita?
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        Jul 23 2011: Hi Thomas,

        Regarding the quote, there are similar verses throughout the Gita, but I found this specific one in Chapter 4. It's verse 11:

        "Whoever comes to me from whatever method, I engage with them in the same method."

        At another point he says he does not confuse people by teaching a single doctrine. He supports different views according as the psychological type of the individual.
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          Jul 23 2011: Hi Abhiram,

          Thanks.

          Yes, that looks like a line someone speaking from memory might repeat as, "However you worship me, I will come."
      • Jul 23 2011: This should not be a question of religious superstition, although i do understand that when faced with a question such as the one posed here many people turn to those former pillars of "truth" for guidance. Simply because we as species are currently not capable of understanding something as complex and astounding as the nature of consciousness does not give lend merit to those arcaic traditions. Is it so difficult to concieve that perphaps consciousness is just a side effect, albeit a remarkable one, of our neural processes? Would that somehow make it less amazing?
        The human brain is the single most complex thing that we have encountered thus far in our short stint upon this pale blue dot. We have only begun to scratch the outer membrane of its capabilties and our understanding of it on the whole is far from complete. My personal view is that we are the sum total of our experiences, which are cataloged and stored within the chambers of our brains. Every feeling, every emotion, every indescriable sensation is all due to the quantum computer resting atop our shoulders. In no way does this detract from the beauty and awe that is our jconscious reality, quite the contrary actually.
        It is in our nature to seek a purpose, but it is folly to attach a fraudulent purpose or cause to an idea so radically profound as conciousness. I am an unashamed agnostic, and will remain so until i see evidence enough to change my mind. I am deeply in love with life and the experiences that unfold along this wonderous journey that we all must take. Therefore, i refuse to do it and myself the disservice of accepting anything as truth that is not based upon imperical proof.
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          Jul 23 2011: QUOTE: I am deeply in love with life and the experiences that unfold along this wonderous journey that we all must take.

          Sounds wonderful.

          QUOTE: Therefore, i refuse to do it and myself the disservice of accepting anything as truth that is not based upon imperical proof.

          Wanna bet?

          If you put your mind to it, you can think of all kinds of things YOU accept without empirical proof. That gravity is a force. That "America" is free and "China" is not. That the earth is round (unless you've seen it or "done the math.") That you are, or have been, "in love." Most of history. That your dad is your father (apparently 10 - 30% of "dads" aren't their "kids" father ... go figure.)

          I am not religious but I do study religion and, at it's root, it's not so bad. What we do with it kind of sucks.

          A lot of what became the foundation for subsequent religious movements was, in my opinion, simply human beings saying, in their own way: "I am deeply in love with life and the experiences that unfold along this wonderous journey that we all must take."
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      Jul 19 2011: I like your openness and honesty/humility , Nathan.

      Have you seen the work of Lynne McTaggart? It is highly controversial and often debnked by scientists but her twpo works, "The Field" and "The Intention Experiment" are fascinating explorations of consciousness..the latter actually attempting scientific explorations of "The Field" and how it works. In be experiment.particpants actually chnaged the ocntent of a pre-ecorded device through their intentions.

      You might enjoy it.
      • Jul 20 2011: I will check it out! Always looking for new view points. :)
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    Jul 19 2011: In my opinion. We have evolved and grown to learn of limits in space and time. Any rational person knows we make decisions and from there, and always can only move forward in time. Never going back do or undo. This is hard truth to swallow when a child, but very motivational in life!
  • Jul 18 2011: I believe that consiousness is an awareness of our environment externally and our ability to create thoughts internally due to our brains connection to the "world" through use of our senses. Would one be conscious if they were born without the ability to see, touch, smell, hear or taste? Could they form a thought without ever having an experience? On the other hand, if a person was to lose all of these senses later in life after having experienced the "world", wouldn't they still be able to create a thought from memory, and therefore be conscious in their own mind, at least temporarily? I say temporarily because without stimuli from the outside world, the body, and therfore the brain would soon die and become "unconscious". Maybe a better term for this state from the time of loss of the senses until death would be "Delayed Unconsciousness". Speaking of delayed, how do we know that our senses relay information to our brain instantly. Maybe there is a delay of an undetermined length between the time we perceive to experience something and the time that we actually experience it. It might be measured in milliseconds, seconds, minutes, etc. If you tell me something and I hear it before you think you said it, does that make me psychic? On a grander scale, what if all of the human species were to die simultaneously? Would the "world" even exist or ever have existed? Who would there be to experience it? Just a thought...pun intended.
  • Jul 18 2011: I think consciousness is a product of our ability to use language. You hear those sounds everyday, its our way of communicating and sharing thoughts. All your thinking is done with words. So in my opinion consciousness is us speaking with ourselves.
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      Jul 18 2011: Language definitely plays a significant part in consciousness. For me language provides an access to consciousness. It puts me in the know while allowing me to explore and inquire.
  • Jul 18 2011: Consciousness is a product of brain power. No brain = unconscious. The origin of consciousness? I could suggest it's an evolutionary defense mechanism used to elaborate stimulus interpretation, and even more elaborate reaction. (though I'm not actually much of an evolutionist). To me, it's clearly advanced biologics, and anyone who suggests it's some mystical thing is just muddying the pool of scientific thought with post-"inception" hype. No offense.

    I think it's utterly foolish to debate consciousness in terms of reality and other such pseudo-science. Not only that, but it annoys me that so much thought is put into consciousness,when we really could be thinking of more pressing matters...
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    Jul 18 2011: Hi Farrukh, consciousness is nothing but a pure soul.and that belogs to every living thing.its main property is its not visible so science can never prove it.this is my view.
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    Jul 18 2011: Unlike the rest of the deeply intuitive living world around us, we learn to communicate through our man-made language. None of our human words/terms can make sense on their own, unless we are explained and agreed upon what they "mean". Otherwise, we would not need any Webster, or even any grammar.... just like other living forms. I'd like to make some workable sense of "consciousness" for the obvious reason that we commonly use this word in different ways. Consciousness is presumably a state of Human mind, where we so desperately want to put things that we experience in our own man-made order. It's possible that our brains are growing into a such large development just because of lots of extra thinking activities. No other living creature even nearly needs this type of mental activity - it uses its instant intuition, and therefore it needs neither a compass, nor an Internet.

    What strange playhouses our minds are!

    As I understand, we are not born with a "consciousness" state of mind. We are born with blessed Awareness - super sensitivity and fantastic alertness. These abilities are getting suppressed as we age by our "consciousness", developed based on our human conventional thinking.

    The universe of subconsciousness is magnificent and ultimately intuitive. I'd call it Awareness. Well, my Out-of-body experience has proved it 100%.
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    Jul 17 2011: I would like to add the thoughts of Julian Jaynes in his Bicameral Mind theory. Consciousness came about, according to this theory, in the millenia leading up to the birth of Christ, as a result of socially-created stressors. It was an evolutionary outgrowth necessary for functioning in a complex society.

    For those not familiar with his 1976 book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, I've posted some notes on the work:
    networkaddress.blogspot.com
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      Jul 17 2011: For those not familiar with Jaynes' work, what he said (in very simplistic terms) is that our mind contained "two rooms" ("bicameral") - the right and the left - and that they operated independently until the division between them "broke down."

      Prior to the breakdown, what was "spoken" by one half of the brain was heard, by the other half as an objective reality. So, for example, we would hear the voice of our thoughts as the voice of "God" not realizing it was emanating from within "the other room" in our own mind.

      EDIT: Oh, and when the "breakdown" occurred, as a result of the socially-created stressors Allen mentioned, we became "conscious" of our own "inner self." We became conscious that it was our own "voice" we were hearing.

      I have heard his theory described as pure genius or pure lunacy.
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    Jul 16 2011: I personally believe that awareness comes from God as does identity.
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    Jul 16 2011: According to Daniel Wolpert, the neuroscientist and engineer at TED Global this week, consciousness, and unconsciousness for that matter, is whatever it needs to be for our bodies to manage movement. Period. His point was that everything we know that our brains do, and by implication therefore, everything we don't know our brains do, exists to control movement, including involuntary stuff like organ activity.

    Does simplify things somewhat.
  • Jul 16 2011: We need to make more complex decisions than other species and these decisions are all really based on our instincts. Now people might argue that animals don't have consciousness - this is where I think the word 'consciousness' needs to be redefined or removed. It's true that an animal e.g. a dog will not think through their actions and the consequences in great detail like a human would, but it does think on some level. E.g. a dog might have to weigh up a situation in it's little doggy brain where it needs to decide on taking a risk (such as stealing a peice of food when the humans aren't looking). The dog knows it should not do this but if it thinks it can get away with it it will do it (and be visibly remorseful when caught).

    I feel the difference between the way we think and the way animals think is something like the difference between an old 486 computer and a Pentium, the latter is far more sophisticated.

    Do I feel it could be created artificially? Yes I do, but we would need to give it some sort of motivation (such as a need to eat/reproduce), otherwise it would just not do anything, it would have no need to be conscious.
  • Jul 16 2011: Consciousness comes from electrically charged neurons in our brains. Nothing more. I do not believe in 'body and mind' or 'body and soul' being separate. When we die, the neuron charges vanish and our minds cease to exist.
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    Jul 16 2011: Consciousness is not brain contained, it is not in the brain. Rather I put it to you, that the brian is in consciousness. Consciousness is indefinable, and uncontainable. Just as a fish lives in water, so does our brain, our body, and our material being live in consciousness. Consciousness does not come from anywhere, yet it is everywhere. When we ask, "Why do you think people have consciousness?" we are asking invalid questions.

    Consciousness can not be created, period.... As consciousness already exists, it would take consciousness to create itself which does not make sense.

    I see consciousness as Light, inseparable from Understanding, Love and `and Universal Energy, all wrapped up in the One, which is called The Universal Mind.
    As we are individual unites of awareness, therefore "Living Souls" we are undying recipients and participants of consciousness.

    Unconsciousness does not exist of itself. Consciousness is really a living sense of awareness, it's as simple as that.
  • Jul 15 2011: Listening to crickets in the grass. Seeing how many varieties of insects are around you daily. Watching the birds wheeling in thermals. Watching clouds graze lazily across hillsides. Looking out for shooting stars every night you are outside in the darkness. Laughing with babies
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    Jul 15 2011: Valentin I would definitely say that consciousness is the ground of everything that we experience. Without consciousness there would be no experience, no world, no cosmos. But it is this simple fact that eludes most people who look through the lens of the scientific paradigm. It is not that science is too advanced for consciousness, rather in order to understand consciousness we have to move beyond science.
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      Jul 15 2011: well said, and truly, Rohan..except I think we may never understand consciusness.we can encounter it enought to "know" it as reality, to engage it reliably , to recognize its workings in us, on us..we canl know but I think not :understand consciousness.
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        Jul 15 2011: Well yes consciousness is the subject, or that which cannot be made an object. So we can never fully understand something that cannot be seen. But i do think there is a relative development of our understanding of consciousness and that is reflected in the culture we create we others. Culture here meaning shared values and perspectives and eventually agreements as to how we should live.
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          Jul 15 2011: Hi Rohan

          Yes, I feel I know :consciousness"..the part of consciousness that is the inner "I", the inner observer" and also the larger whole of consciousness with which we are somehow interpenetrated

          .I feel I "know consciousness" at both levels..that it is part of my experience and has been since early childhood. The more I engage my own interiority and the larger field of consciousness the more deepy I know it but I cannot begin to really comprehend or understand it. I know consciousness the way I know electricity. I throw a switch, the light comes on. That and afew small scientific facts are all I understand about electricity On my own I don't understand electricity enough to make it myself if it were not alreday hard wired to be deleivered.

          You suggest it may contain "culture". .I am intrigued by, and just beginning to look at some work on the co-creation/co-dependence of culture and our biochemistry, our evolution.

          I haven't thought much about the "content" of consciousness...my "working model" is that it may be or contain the collective energy and experience of all lives ever lived.which would include cultural content. but my own expereience with it is that it is not neutral..it's not just a data bank..that it has "intent" that it is trying to bring information to us and finds ways of doing that with or without our knowing co operation. or our intentional seeking of information..e.g through poetry, art, music, intuitive leaps in science, math or medicine.

          An artist friend of mine (raised in Japan steeped in Japaese painting techniques) said the other day that she is "offered images" anda that if she doesn't accept ( emanate) that image she loses acccess to it..can't go to it another time but has very often seen the image in another artists work executed after her "refusal"..as if te image was intent on coming into being. A close poet friend would sit at hi stypewriter and "wait for the poem"..no rewrites or edit..it just poured through him.
  • Jul 15 2011: Everythinnnnng is infinite

    fear is what creates the cycle of birth work and death
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    Jul 15 2011: Great question! definitely a toughy. I would agree with something stated a little bit earlier. It's a spiritual essence that comes from life. It's just combination of all of our beings coming together and meeting as one.
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    Jul 14 2011: Consciousness comes from the connection of the essence of life itself! While you, as that essence, are living a spiritual life in a physical world! Our energy of what we are as physical beings has been defined by our life from birth! The evolution of connecting through all forms of the current ability to share information is making our world much smaller and that consciousness more of the realization of that essence! My understanding of the question! What is God?
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    Jul 14 2011: I think, we create consciousness when men impregnate women? so can sex create consciousness? and i am not sure if you can create artificial life or if there is such a thing. my 2 cents; thanks for the brain stimulation.
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    Jul 14 2011: Hi Farrukh,

    Has anyone provided an answer as to what consciousness is?

    It might be a good idea to clear that up before we try to figure out where it comes from.
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    Jul 13 2011: The universe is a part of our minds. It is a "construction" of our minds based on our interactions with the invisible to us environment. The world is not "designed" for us to see or hear. It is invisible. Our random greatly limited interactions with the world, which are initially neither pictorial nor auditory, eventually produce our consciousness theater. It is our naturally creative interpretation of our own mental state.

    We are given wonder tools of perceptions not to reflect anything, not for to "know", but to create our own picturesque realities, where we discover not the universal laws of the world but the laws of our own peculiar perceptions.

    Gravity, light, magnetic fields, solid matter, black matter, any matter, black holes, quantum mysteries, speeds, movements... etc., are our own INTERNAL impressions of the internal conditions within our own minds. No one is able to fly out one's mind to "observe" the world out there. All we may know for sure about the External world is that it changes too quickly to allow our time or space, or images and shapes, or thoughts to exist out there on their own. We are getting fed on the endless but invisible to us change, within and without, but we are our own unique production within our internally produced sensations and feelings. I believe that the fundamental laws that govern our unique nature are still undiscovered. We have a lot of work to do, observing our own minds.
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    Jul 13 2011: Ah now there's the mystery. If you've ever really looked inside and asked yourself who's looking and stayed with it, you'll find just vast consciousness. If you're persistent, you'll experience yourself inside of consciousness instead of the other way 'round.
    I reckon that the universe is permeated with consciousness or more accurately, that it underlies all that is manifest. It couldn't be created artificially as it is already there. I don't feel that it is uniquely human, although we are able to debate it. Perhaps it is dark energy!
  • Jul 13 2011: Knowledge & experience, I suppose.
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    Jul 13 2011: Our mind with all its production, with its deep subconsciousness, as well as with shallow appearances of conscious realities, is what we are. Our consciousness, as we see and feel it, is our peculiar theater mainly created by very limited sensory perception of sight. Our intelligence, sciences, common mentality, judgements, and our social activities are all based on the same concept - "seeing means believing", while we believe the most deceiving perception of all we possess, our sight.
    This confidence in visual appearances makes us almost unaware that all the spectacles we observe with our eyes are not reflecting any part of the objective reality of the world. Our LIMITATIONS in perceiving have a crucially important reason. Limitations protect our minds, within and without, from melting down into merciless powers of the mighty world, like a lump of sugar in a cup of hot tea. These blessed limitations are constantly "pushing" us to be as creative as we can be, adjusting to our non-stop changing environment for the sake of our survival.
    Its hard to fit into a tiny "comment" window.

    from a POEM "Blessed Blindness" (by Vera Nova)

    ......... But if our limitations.... disappeared
    And everyone could see
    Every mind's Kingdom,
    Feel every feeling and know every thought as one,
    Misunderstandings could melt down forever.
    Seeds of doubts and blame about the others could stop growing.
    No fights, no wars, intrigues or hate, no players or pretending.

    Alas, no illusions of beauty, seductive unknowns and guesses.
    No wonder and No wisdom -
    - all truths and lies are clear for each mind and for all.
    No thrill to admire, no one to thank,
    No need to explain, to talk, to act, to scream.

    No artist to paint.
    No poet to sing.

    If my peculiar senses cannot give me the world
    God bless my limits, my blindness that lay the soil for my garden of dreams.
    How little I can see with my eyes.
    How much I can see without them.
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    Jul 12 2011: I am interested in this thread and would ask all those who say that consciousness is an emergent quality coming about through our complexity if they think that emergent consciousness should be found in all extremely complex connected systems. I would also ask any of the experts, in whatever fields, that might be here on the forum: what systems they know of that have a complexity of connections equal to the human brain? If conscience is an emergent quality of complex systems how would we detect it? Without asking could we observe one another and determine that we have consciousness?
  • Jul 12 2011: I read the most of the comments and I want to make it a little simple. I think the body and consciousness( i think it's spirit, you can think that is religious but that's what i call) are separate.

    Here is my example: The body is a computer, a machine. It has input and output slots, in body you can call the eyes as input, The body has also a processor named brain.Output part is, what you feel or understand things which your brain processed, and you, your spirit or your consciousness understands that. If you think about the hardware of computers, you can match all parts of the body to a computer.

    Well let's look at the most important point! The body(computer) processes we know that. But ! Someone controls it and it's separate from the computer! It is you! We are linked to a world, we can see the world from that computer's monitor, we can react with keyboard or mouse. And processor of the body keep us alive to live in the world and controls the computer. But you control the processor! You are not the processor...Like Abhiram Lohit said the "YOU" word, "YOU" are the one who sits on a chair, controls the computer, and totally separate from the computer! That's how I think..
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    Jul 12 2011: From the nature of existence in time, which acknowledges a time before and after existence.
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    Jul 12 2011: I have just recently come across this theory by Julian Jaynes, from 1976, where he says that 'consciousness', or the ability to self-reflect, was a separate part of the human mind and experienced through auditory hallucinations (thought of as gods talking and ordering commands).

    In his book The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, he uses the Iliad to point out that the characters don't self-reflect. All of the 'decision-making' takes the form of a god telling the character what to do. In sections of the poem added later (after the bicameral breakdown, as the poem was not written all at the same time) individual introspection is evident. Therefore, he says that 'consciousness' came about during that period of human civilization as a result of social pressures (concentrations of population density).

    His theory is by far the most interesting idea I've ever heard regarding the origin of consciousness, and if you read through the wiki article below, you will find that there is a recent publication that deals with this idea in depth and with a good deal of contemporary-thinker input.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicameralism_(psychology)

    [and so, technically, for example, he is saying that the Egyptians were not 'conscious' when they built the pyramids, but were simply 'following orders' from God. He also uses schizophrenia (hearing commanding voices) as evidence of possible traces left over from this bicameral mind.]
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    Jul 12 2011: Jim and Abhiram,
    Sorry guys, I cannot get this anywhere near your comments I am replying to, so I'm starting another thread.

    Abhiram, you ask..."have you considered your experience during deep sleep? Your senses and mind are not active. Which means you are not indulging in activities that contribute to your identity...space time awareness is absent...may have difficulty walking...this shows there is a complete disconnect". I totally agree with that whole comment Abhiram.

    Of course I've had the experience of deep sleeping, but I've also had the opportunity to go to another level with this idea. After a near fatal brain/head injury and craniotomy, from which I was not expected to recover, I was in the state you describe. The brain was not functioning with the characteristics I knew as a human. The brain was badly damaged, and I was unconscious and near death according to the medical model. In that time, however, I was aware of much more on another level. My senses were expanded to something I cannot even begin to describe. I could see the body (not a pretty site), witnessed what was going on around it, and could sense the thoughts/feelings of the people in the room where the body lay. I believe the brain works much like a computer...some programs can be turned off, while others are running well. There are many levels of consciousness (programming) that flows through the brain as energy.

    Jim,
    I agree that part of consciousness may be "an emergent property of the brain", and I think you are limiting yourself by believing this to be the only part. You're right...science is discovering quite a bit about the brain and consciousness:>)
  • Jul 12 2011: I'll review the comments listed, so apologies if I'm replicating, but wanted to add a few thoughts - what if consciousness comes from nowhere, that is 'it' always was. What if 'people have consciousness' is reversed - consciousness has people ? Does an organic structure without a brain have consciousness ?.. eg. a cell. Is individual consciousness connected ? Is matter, eg a brain a derivative form, derived from energy, and consciousness a fundamental form ? .. possibly an structuring form ? Can and if so how can consciousness be created ?
  • Jul 11 2011: Hi Friend

    my def of consciousness:
    awareness of self as a wielder of free-will in this shared world. (yes, free will is an illusion - but who cares if it is?) Thus consciousness is the conceptual division of the outer (the world) and inner (the mind) spheres of existence.

    I believe consiousness is the simple result of being able to see oneself with one's mind. Animals can see themselves with their eyes but their mental limitations limit their 'consiousness'. This ability to reflect intelligently upon oneself developed through the painstakingly slow process of evolution. It would be as difficult to identify the first conscious human beings as it would be to define intelligence and its origins.

    I am hoping that this question has follow up questions i.e.:"What more uses are there for this incredible gift of consciousness?", "What is the nature of collective consciousness?" and many more. It could be a consciousness series.
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    Jul 11 2011: Wonderful discussion..I am a contemplative but I avoid using words like God or Consciousness because they are words with as many meanings as there are people who use the words and because I decided iong ago that my pitiful little brain could make understanding "God" or "consciousness" my life's work and never make a dent..and never get anything done on this earth that might have been helpful and useful

    Yesterday, though, I got very excited and energized by the idea that what human beings have experienced as a sense of "divine other" or "inner observer" or "great spirit" or "emerging consciosness" may actually be biological..in dwelling, in every single cell of our bodies

    .I had just watched for the third time a wonderful award winning 1995 science documentary on how cells work, Death By Design. I was very deeply moved that the principle by which the activities of every cell are directed ( when not overcome by disease) is to promote the health and well being of the organism in which it resides..including "agreeing"" to die for the sake of the whole.

    I was also deeply moved by the fact that an individual human cell cannot live alone..it receives its instructions to live from other cells and without this connection it dies

    .Before sentient beings had any kind of brain our cells were our brain, and still are part of the "brain function" within us.The entire life and death of a cell, every single cell in us, is about the benefit of the whole. I love the idea that the "inner voice", the "inner observer", "consciousness" is a brain connection with this ancient way of of knowing that the purpose of each organism is to serve life, to serve and benefit the whole.I love the idea that "consciousness" is physically indwelling and universal not a matter of ideology,philosophy, or religion.
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      G C

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      Jul 13 2011: I've seen documentaries discussing these concepts of cells making decisions based on external information and they blew my mind too. This was one of the key ideas that lead me to believe that consciousness is in no way unique to humans. Bacteria communicate, cells communicate, it seems all life communicates. Communication requires three steps, encoding information, transferring that code and decoding back into information. This begs the question: how does the cell know to encode, transmit and decode? It would seem that a driving force is present. If you say nay, cells have evolved to do this on their own then doesn't that mean that information encoded itself somewhere along the line and does that not violate the second law of thermodynamics?
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        Jul 16 2011: GC their are special monitor cells that give the directions/instructions ( this is brought out a bitt in Death by Design but more explicated in a separte resrach pece on the monitor cells). I am very taken with this idea that the fundamental operating prncipla of every cell within us is to serve the whole, serve the well being of the whole and fascinated with this idea of interaction between cells, our fundamental biology, and our experience, our culture and ove eons our history.

        I am not sure how it all hooks up with "the inner I" the "inner observer" .All of the NDE's?OBE's , including Colleens remembered with unique clarity, confirm that the inner I is non corporeal..not resident in the body..that we somehow "come with that I" Perhaps that cellular sentience is what the Buddhists call "sentience" and perhaps that too is somehow connecetd with consciousness or faciliates our recognition of consciousness at work in our lives both at the interior "I" level and at the level of the field of consciousness that seems to surround and nurture all life. .
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          G C

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          Jul 16 2011: The fact that cells operate to serve the whole reminds me of hive mind mentality seen in ants and bees. I wonder if there are parallels that can be drawn. Are you familiar with this at all?
  • Jul 11 2011: Hi Farrukh

    The conversation you were having with Bob sparked a question for me. The comment about a beginning point of consciousness.

    From a Darwinian point of view, where was my consciousness before my birth? Did my mom have it or dad?

    I think consciousness or self awareness(as Bob said) is emergent and totally conditioned after conception but then again I already know what I think. What about you guys?
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      Jul 11 2011: I think that consciousness is formed due to some feature of universe itself, that we did not yet discover. Which is some kind of an energy field or a dimension that uses brain to interact with our physical world.
      • Jul 11 2011: Hi Farrukh

        I'm with you there. We're smart monkeys but not that smart.

        I was watching a documentary on the cosmos and it showed an artistic rendering of the clumping of the galaxies and noticed that it' was similar to the artistic rendering of the neurons in the brain.
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          G C

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          Jul 13 2011: Check out the lattice structure of dark matter, same thing. Energy comes together at certain points within a given space be it macroscopic, microscopic or anthroscopic.
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        Jul 13 2011: Farukh
        Much of the responses to your fascinating question assume the existence of a physical reality outside of the mind. In philosophical metaphysics we speak of this as materialism if that is the only reality, or dualism it is reality combined with a non-physical (mind, soul, spirit) reality. There are major problems with both the materialist and the dualist understanding of consciousness. A third option is that of the idealist, one who believes that all that is, is mind. What we call world or universe is a mental construct. Philosophy has largely accepted this since Immanuel Kant c. 1800. For the idealist, consciousness is a turning of mind upon itself, a turning that seems to happen more easily in stronger minds. Why some minds are more self aware (self-turned) than others remains something of a mystery, but there are some interesting arguments out there. The main point I want to get across is that we need not reconcile consciousness (i.e. mental awareness) with a physical universe, as there is no universe except that which appears to the mind. Instead of attempting to ask where in the physical world we can find the origins of consciousness, we might do better to ask why consciousness exists in the mental universe.
  • Jul 11 2011: 1. That science has not answered why we are consciousness is meaningless. There is no other possible source of an answer than through science. Clearly God isn't at work in our minds given our shortcomings and obvious moral challenges.

    2. At present only Quantum Mechanics offers possible insights. Try Rosenblum and Kuttner, The Quantum Enigma
  • Jul 11 2011: each individual human consciousness is a psychosis. how deep depends on how misguided our beliefs are, and how strongly we cling to them.
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    Jul 10 2011: "I wonder why I wonder why I wonder?" Richard Feynman. Eventually it is certain it will be possible for machines to mimic awareness, true consciousness? I don't think so unless we learn to create life too. But first you should define what you mean. Awareness could be as simple as reaction to stimulus, that machines can definitely do. Self awareness with spontaneous creativity or something like inspiration requires that there is a spirit inside. The body supports consciousness but in my experience it is not the source. A computer can perform cleverly, based on the quality of its programing but it still needs a programmer and a source of energy. So your question seems to be again what are the sources of consciousness and while that may be knowable it will still be unprovable. The saying is "those who say do not know, those who know, do not say"
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    G C

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    Jul 10 2011: How does Dawkins refer to memes?
    • Jul 11 2011: Hi G C

      Daniel Dennett, a philosopher gives a talk about "memes" here on TED. I tied the ideas together as if an idea could be considered a type of mental "radiation".

      blog.ted.com/2007/07/03/dan_dennett_on_2
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        G C

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        Jul 13 2011: Spot on you are. Thanks for directing me to this video. I had read about memes but didn't realize that Dawkins coined the term and that they were so accepted in the organic, evolving sense that Dennett speaks of.

        Like he said in the video, memes are information. Information gets encoded in many different ways and is then processed and filtered in turn by the recipient. Words are code, pictures are code, sound is code; all of which transmit information to be decoded by an observer. If a meme is an action you observe through sight alone then the information was encoded into the photons that radiated outward and were captured by your eye. The signal of that vision radiated through your optic nerve and was projected onto the visual cortex of your brain. You then process that mental image and decode the information (memes) within, some of it consciously and some unconsciously. All of this information radiates throughout the conscious and unconscious levels of your mind electrically until it finally radiates outward from you as new sets of information manifested and projected back into the physical world.
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    Jul 10 2011: consciousness is a wonderfull potential of our human mind. You can explore it deeper and with more detail. It is for working on, it is not a concept only. It gives you real presence, it is not a dream.Not all the things in life we can graps totally, that's an illusion, It is not possible to known it in the mode of neopositivistic approach, that's an illusion.
  • Jul 10 2011: yes I agree need new data and consciousness that better than this
  • Jul 10 2011: My thought is that all of this consciousness, this artificial space we imagine in other people and in ourselves, is living within our memories, plans, and imaginings, all of this is indeed 3,000 years old.
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      Jul 10 2011: Why 3000?
      • Jul 11 2011: The progress and achievement made by human during 3000 years civilization and appearing all around a new human, stimulates the creation of consciousness in new human.

        Imagine if someone has come into being and totally not connected to the world, how much conscious he/she might be?

        In other terms, consciousness is inborn thing in human, but it comes into being once it is stimulated by external environment and it continues grow and develop.
  • Jul 10 2011: I think consciousness not real. only dream of mind or some interesting effect of this universe.
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      Jul 10 2011: I agree, it's a dream, though we can modify how the dream goes.
      we can reformat the brain, making the brain in a stable status,
      then giving a figure to the brain by adding/eliminating desired/undesired,
      this is done by simply repeating the desired trait over and over to change it into an automatic thought the two DON'Ts AND two BEs technique: (to make the brain be ready for accepting new)
      1. don't assume
      2. don't expect high
      3. be optimistic
      4. be reasonable
      + giving sometime before reacting, for the person to have time to "think", to conform if suggestions provided automatically are acceptable.
      at the same time it's a sort of filter, to eliminate the undesired, as for giving time to notice and think about the undesired
      this by a way or another a method to changing consciousness in the long run
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    Jul 10 2011: Cosciousness is not coming from somewhere or created artificially..
    Its the inborn voice which we here, when we do a wrong ...
    • Jul 11 2011: Is that called conscience? It is also part of consciousness, right?
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    Jul 10 2011: Science tells us matter itself consists of more immatter (relations/bindings/radiant/vibrations) than matter. Therefore the planet immaterial 'invisible/immeasurable' world is much bigger.

    Nature/ theplanet/ the elements are a self regulating cause and effect eco system. Our immaterial world - as it is even bigger and the material world is it's composition - should therefore also be a self regulating ecosystem.

    Science explained every cause and effect logic in our biological system, the world system of elements. The question is, where is the 'Da Vinci' making the drawings beyond the current (what I know off) energy circles floating around the body, mind and planet? Is science doing this with measuring the until yesterday immeasurable?

    As our body isa product of natures material interaction, our mind/conscious might be from the immaterial interaction in it's purest (without material) form.
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    Jul 10 2011: no seriously, I experienced that a lot, I some times ask the people if they are related, in a way or another
    and I find them not related but married, this makes me think of perception into a more deeper look, and wonder why not to find articles about this issue

    the interesting issue also about paradigm shifts, to change "consciousness", if we consider this as traits and instinct like, automatic thinking actions
    • Jul 10 2011: Yes Mohamed I reread your opening statement and think you were saying that we are conditioned by our cultures, as Fred pointed out, and that explains our differences. I definitely agree with that.

      Also, I was not making fun of your comment about married people, I was just associating it with an idea that I was already familiar with (pets and owners) and thought the connection to be funny.

      It sounds like we have similar ideas, at least on that subject, I just misunderstood what you were saying. Ahh the written word.

      Please input on "Idea" 10 Million Human March
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    Jul 10 2011: consciousness simply is a result of culture, personal traits and experiences, acquired over time, I think
    this is why people are different, may be if been put in the same situation, they are not supposed to react in the same manner
    this is a result of perception, people introduced to the same situation or problem, perceived it differently, had different vision and analysis
    this is the core reason why I am against education in how to produce copies of the "optimum" student
    I see it's a one direction rode

    the interesting part is, does perception (visionary stimuli) change what people look like over time?
    we see married couples after time, they look like a sister and a brother, for most of the cases
    • Jul 10 2011: Hi Mohamed,

      I think our actions are a result of culture, personal traits and experiences but consciousness, to me, goes a lot deeper.

      Funny you say that about married people. I've never heard that before. I have heard that idea applied to pets and their owners though. Ha Ha
      • Jul 10 2011: Yes, I agree that what Mohamed S. and most of the entries on this blog are referring to and referencing is consciousness rooted in conditioning, or ego consciousness--which accounts for 99.999% of what us Westerners and modern-day men experience. God has created a brilliant design and an incredibly clever place to, and way of "hiding and playing the world from the inside out," to quote Alan Watts' summary of a major point in the Vedic writings.
        • Jul 10 2011: Fred thank you, that helped me to understand better what Mohamed was saying.

          My mind will not let me enter a realm other than the physical and empirically provable, but I am not so fixed that I think everything I believe is true, which allows us to have a great conversation. Thanx

          Please input on "Idea" 10 Million Human March
  • Jul 9 2011: I will try to explain what is my vision of what I think consciousness might encompass. I am sure I do not understand fully what consciousness is (otherwise I would not be reading and thinking so much about it). I however partly developed and partly stole ideas that, put together, gives me a hypothesis of what consciousness could be. I am sure consciousness originates from evolution.I think that consciousness is what it feels like to have something written down in our memory. I think that all what enter our memory also enter our consciousness and vice versa. I also think that the more attention we give to something, the more conscious we are of that thing and the more entrenched in our memory it will remain.
  • Jul 9 2011: Does your question refer to the creation of consciousness or the current source of an individual's consciousness?
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    Jul 9 2011: Consciousness comes from what we will be thinking in the future which is what someone else has been thinking in the past. The brain cells stay within our universe which is why consciousness is collective.
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    Jul 9 2011: It is a fundamental question, Farrukh. Without answering this question there is no possibility to understand, in any intelligent way, the very nature of our existence, whether it is conscious or subconscious .

    "Our conscious part of mind is very tiny but excites us the most. So theatrical and intriguing, our conscious playhouse of unique human reality is getting mainly developed based on our illusive perception of Sight - the most deceiving sensory perception of all we possess. Is our consciousness really intelligent, or shallow and ridiculous, while pursuing it's only "purpose" - to stimulate our internal vital energy?"

    "Why is that one's conscious theater of reality so limited and intimate? Every form of life must resist open contacts in order to stay alive as it is. What this means? Without these great limitations in perceiving, and resistance while interacting, we would be instantly melted down into this world of crucial changes, like a lamp of sugar in a cup of hot tea.

    There are no trees, stars or water out there. The world is endless non-physical change, driven by turbulent powers, where are no balance, or stability, or exact repetition possible. The world has no time for our human time and has no space for our human space - in its every instant it is entirely new. Therefore our perceptions, whether they are primary-subconscious, or secondary, called "physical", are not at all to see or hear anything in the world as it is. In the first place we are given our limited perceptions to create our own UNIQUE internal existence, stimulate and protect it.

    Perceptions work like invisible artist's paints and brushes. No one else can really see one's internal art of mind, but the only one who produces it. " I was able to select this Quote from the "Artists Notes on Humans and The Universe" Vera Nova. Thank you for reading and learning with us. Simone
  • Jul 9 2011: You CAN have something without nothing. That's the difference.
  • Jul 8 2011: The memory and one's chemical responses to stimuli (which converts one's memories into a self-serving or self-aggrandizing retro-active set of memories, whichever one prefers).

    It's all just fascinations and re-affirmations.
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    Jul 8 2011: this is my view:
    Nothing is Nothing
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      Jul 8 2011: You can't have something without nothing.
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        Jul 8 2011: Hi there Matt.
        I did not say consciousness comes out of nothing.
        I said nothing is nothing

        The meaning you derive from those words is completely subjective and no one can add or take away from your understanding of "nothing is nothing."

        That is where consciousness comes from.
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          Jul 9 2011: Yeah, I just replied to your statement because it made no sense to me. I apologize as anything from that point of view would be doomed to be irrelevant and exhaust more confusion.

          :-)
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          Jul 9 2011: Moreover, where is it that you think "consciousness" comes from?
          Did you check out my post to that very important question by Farrukh Yakubov?
      • Jul 8 2011: Actually Matt, you can't have nothing without comparing it with something! Nothing is a relative term.
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          Jul 9 2011: Yes I agree.
          Obviously you did not realize we are saying the same thing. If I put the words Vise-versa after my statement than your argument would have, I think, never needed to be stated.

          Thanks,
          mhl
  • Jul 8 2011: Consciusness is to be awake to world. Posibility of being concious comes from our design, it is an emergent property of desingn of human beings.
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    Jul 8 2011: I would recommend you watching the talk of Damasio when it comes online.
    Or the description Jill Bolte Taylor gives in her talk

    My approach is in line with his, though he might disagree with my ideas about it.
    1) as our brain is active, the result produces the images and all we perceive.
    2) I think that the constant feedback-loops (plus new information entering our senses) is the thing forming our consciousness.
    3) a lot of activity in our brain seems to escape our consciousness, so not all parts of our brain seem to be involved...
    4) Self consciousness is something that seems to have evolved over time, and is not visible in all vertebrates, so at least a part of the brain structure of consciousness must be recent (i.e. located in the neocortex, probably frontal)

    I do think it can be created artificially (as I discussed here http://www.ted.com/conversations/1528/artificial_intelligence_will_s.html)
    And I think it will be done by Bayesian algorithms (as they are most apt for learning). Though neuronal networks and other learning algorithms might be needed too.
    It will probably be a gradual thing, where the consciousness will grow as the complexity of the program increases (it will need sensory input)
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    Jul 7 2011: There's one TED talk about this but I couldn't find it. It's one of the talk in the event where JR win a ted prize.
    Anyway, it's been research that consciousness differ from self. Prove is you can be conscious and have no idea who you are. While when we dream, we lose consciousness but totally aware of our self.
    As for where it came from, it's argued that consciousness is located as a link between the brain and the neural backbone... somewhere around the back of the neck. That's why if that spot is hit hard enough you lose consciousness.
    • Jul 17 2011: 1) the only insight we have is quantum mechanics Rosenblum and Kuttner,. The Quantum Enigma

      2) TEDs has a short discussion Leonard Susskind: My friend Richard Feynman Susskind states that the question is one only for science while talking about Feynman making two philosophers foolish in discussing the subject