Knock knock, who is inside of you? You have an internal experience of “me”. You experience feelings when aroused. You are in awe of beauty. You have thoughts, opinions and beliefs. You create and visualize the future. You react internally to the world in hundreds of subjective ways. Some refer this to this as qualia. It is the part of you that is self aware. Buddhists call it pure awareness. Others call it consciousness. Some say that consciousness is formless.
The “I”, the knowing with which our experience is known, has remained present throughout your life. In that sense “you”, the awareness of you, has not changed.
What is consciousness? And, can it be explained by a physicalist?
“Does consciousness exist outside of the brain/body?. Did consciousness exist 5 million years ago?
The false premise that we are examining is.
A rationalistic scientific way of thinking is the only way to the truth of reality.
To the first question, the physicalist would say we don’t know right now, but we will be able to explain it. What we do know is that consciousness and all subjective experience arises from and is dependent on the body and the human body is physical.
To the second question the physicist would say that being that there were no human bodies one million years ago, there was no consciousness. Consciousness does not exist outside of the body.
The challenge for the scientist is that there is nothing we know about the brain and physics which explains consciousness; the subjective experience of “I”.
Consciousness can’t be explained neurologically. Some scientists are exploring whether there may be an answer at the quantum level to explain consciousness. But most think that is a pretty farfetched. The quantum level is millions of time smaller than a neuron and there does not seem to be any more of a quantum connection to neurons and the brain than to other material things.
Now we become unconsciousness though sleep or anesthesia. And neurological scientists can stimulate the neocortex to take us out of consciousness. The brainwaves are there, but there is no integration providing a structure that apparently is required for consciousness. And that does not really get to any explanation of the experience of love, or beauty.
And how about the subconscious, that part of our consciousness of which we not aware? Scientists have not come even close to providing a neurological explanation of this.
So, consciousness is still a mystery. And if consciousness is special, and we humans seems to think it is, then the fact that it has evolved in the last few thousands of years is a big deal, regardless of how infinitesimal we are in the universe. The Universe is now becoming conscious of itself. And, maybe this is the only time that it has done so.
Perhaps aspects of consciousness may not be physically based. And, if not physically based, will survive the dissolution of the body. Perhaps there are individuals who can see a reality beyond physical.
I will explore this concept in the next blog under the name nonduality.
So. do you agree that the understanding of consciousness, your consciousness, might be a factor in proving the premise false?