baudrunner's space: On consciousness
"Philosophy to Science - Quark to Cosmos. Musings on the Fundamental Nature of reality"

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On consciousness

In the Scientific American article of October, 2007 titled How Does Consciousness Happen? neuroscientists Christof Koch and Susan Greenfield discuss independent theories on the nature of consciousness. The synopsis introducing the article on the content pages of that month's issue amounts to a compelling definition of consciousness -- "..brain activity leading to subjective experience." In my opinion, both explanations are correct but Greenfield's more so than Koch's, which ventures at times dangerously into phrenology. Greenfield does not neglect to remember, without actually mentioning it, that consciousness amounts to maintenance over time.

I have written a number of articles on this blog expressing my generally opinionated views on various aspects of neuroscience and to some extent I feel more qualified than most to express them having also read to date some eleven books on the subject of the brain. In the sense that I am not limiting my viewpoint by being bogged down by details of experimentation, on which Koch's views are highly dependent, I feel that I am able to give some insight into the origins of consciousness. While I agree with Koch that not much conclusive insight can be arrived at by analysing consciousness from a philosophical standpoint I think that it is yet paramount to consider the historical process that has allowed life's evolution from the simplest forms of single-celled life with a few nucleotides in them and from the archeae to endow them with consciousness necessitating from, or to, mobility and by the quest for sustenance, and how that evolution grew into the ability of the earliest life forms to feed selectively. This can clearly be seen from microscopic studies of the eukaryotes and especially the higher forms of these such as amoeba and paramecia. Experimentation leads to conclusions of how the brain responds to stimuli but does not explain the fundamental nature of consciousness. It may be that humans are simply too complicated to explain themselves.

In fact, all thought and action are explained by bio-chemical reactions. The concept of sentient awareness and cognizance are the evolved product of mobility and selective nurture. The earliest life forms maintained their existence by replenishment and regeneration, no less than the highest life forms do now. Thought and action require expenditures of energy and energy is derived from the processes following ingestion and digestion. It is not in the least inappropriate to compare human beings then with the earliest forms of single-celled life and therefore we can conclude that even those early life forms had enough sentient awareness to allow the maintenance of their beings over time.

It is, however, inappropriate to consider that which cannot be experimentally proven to be philosophical in nature. By way of example I point to the Anthropocentric Universe theory. In effect, consciousness is determined to arise through the evolutionary process as a function of time to meet the conditions for its requirement to provide that singular idea -- premonition if you will, which has no dependency on pre-existence -- which begat the creation process. No other explanation for what begat everything has been forthcoming and this one satisfies me and my logical model for creation.

We can say that consciousness and time are mutually inclusive. Either one is a function of the other. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the concept of cognizant sentience but on the other hand it is a practical solution for that which necessitates its predisposition -- creation itself. It does not surprise me then that the highest forms of cognizant, sentient beings have the power to create.

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