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Tyler Barron

High School Student,

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What exactly is or defines the self-aware, subjective, and phenomenal experience we call consciousness?

I am a senior in high school and and doing a 100-hour research project on consciousness. I am currently reading the book Self Comes to Mind by Antonio Damasio, but have yet to find clear answers as to something i can label as consciousness. Maybe the problem is that i am trying to label something that inherently cannot be defined or something that is greater than any definition seeing as any form of language or any concept of defining an object results from what we know to be consciousness. I know that Buddhism and Hinduism touch upon the concept of non-self and many-sidedness, and in a sense get at the concept of consciousness but in the physics realm, consciousness becomes something entirely new under the pretexts of general relativity and quantum mechanics. I'm not sure whether these ideas are applicable to the conscious experience in which they were created but maybe they point to some greater truths about what our self-awareness truly is. In my search for discovering consciousness, i have found that it very much overlaps with the idea of 'free will' and 'existential relative liberties,' however, i dont know if these are the same as consciousness or just a product of it. I have also come across the idea of the 'soul,' if it exists, what realm or dimension does it exist in and when or how is it formed? I suppose religion and philosophy try to answer these questions but i am unsure whether or not modern neuroscience will ever be able to get at a concrete answer. Maybe my original question is unanswerable and will only lead to dead ends, but i am curious to see what these dead ends will be. I would greatly appreciate any input on the topic! Thanks!

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  • Mar 24 2012: Hi Tyler,

    Let me think a little bit about that question. It can often be easier to read what someone else says about RS ideas than going right to the source. It depends a bit on where you are coming from. What your interests are. There are in fact a few readings on youtube. These can be a good place to start. There is some stuff that is pretty misleading though.
    I'll get back to you with some suggestions

    Greetings Daniel
    • Mar 24 2012: Haha i can imagine, some of the stuff seemed pretty dense. ill check out some of the youtube readings to see what i can find.
      I was wondering if you knew any examples of "easy problems" that have helped to change how we view consciousness? ive been thinking about how it makes sense that we can get closer to narrowing down the hard problem by getting at the easy ones but can only find the example of split-brain patients...
      • Mar 25 2012: I am not familiar with split-brain patients. Can you tell in short what it is about?

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