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?



7 thoughts on “CONSCIOUSNESS”

  1. Not sure what what you are asking, but I do agree that the premises – A rationalistic scientific way of thinking is the only way to the truth of reality – is false! There was dynamism long before there were bodies to experience the dynamism (True Nature) at work. It is such an arrogant and small way of thinking that because we can’t measure something, or see it with our eyes, etc., that it didn’t have consciousness or dynamism moving with it. Something, call it God or True Nature, is the basis of consciousness as is the body and where we are developmentally. Such a lovely exploration to be involved in.


    1. Nice thinking Judith.

      Mind itself cannot comprehend Reality. There is no hope for that.

      Mind, a result of consciousness, cannot comprehend its creator.

      Reality (consciousness) seems to be a state so far beyond mind as to make Reality beyond thought or concept, any thought, any concept.

      I think you’re on the right track.

      Reality is a spiritual quest, not scientific.


  2. Now you’ve got me interested! Re the false premise, our experiences demonstrates that it is false. I heard a podcast last Monday evening from a surgeon who was talking about how science can’t “prove” anything. And doctors need to be humble because they are guessing a lot of the time about what is happening inside the body.
    The best work on consciousness I have come across is the book: A Beautiful Question.
    The author is an astrophysicist who is writing about the history of science and consciousness.
    You picked a great topic on this one: consciousness. Probably the most important one of this 21st century. Good ole Einstein’s C=E=M. It has taken humans so long to evolve to this focus!


  3. I have a 64 GB flash drive installed in a USB slot in the side of my computer.. I have enough pages of text saved in that device to make up several books. And I have not a clue how physically that data is stored in that device. However, I think that computer experts understand exactly how all those ones and zeros are physically located in the device.
    On the other hand, the best we can do about the physical manifestations of thoughts, memory, consciousness, etc. in the human brain is to say that memory seems to lodge here, emotions there, visual and hearing processes somewhere else, etc.
    That’s about as primitive an understanding of the brain as one which concludes that a car works because somehow a highly flammable and explosive liquid is placed in a tank in the back end, and that liquid flows in a little pipe to the front of the car, where a lot of noice and heat is generated, and somehow that leads to the wheels turning.
    So we have a very long way to go before we understand how the brian works. When we finally understand the physics of conscious functioning, then we face the question of how in the world does the brain continue to process information and come up with solutions to problems while we are asleep!
    As far as I can determine, my favorite canine friend does not worry about any of this stuff. And he has a pretty amazing brain, too, and we don’t have a clue about how how his brain works.
    So, given our vast depth of ignorance about mental functioning, any discussions about the topic are based simply on intellectual conjecture.


  4. Stop thinking for a moment. Are you still there? Yup.

    Thinking (mind) and consciousness are not the same thing.

    Consciousness exists without mind…

    Joe Melham


  5. Is the brain a storage medium or an quantum antenna? I think it could eventually proved to be the latter, but my knowledge on the entire subject is admittedly not that deep.


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