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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #54)

Sat May 17, 2014, 12:00 AM

57. I think the easiest way to think of consciousness is that its an emergent property of complex...

 

brains. As you said, consciousness is probably necessary so that our complex brains can think of themselves as one, so the we are us, and we know we are us. Damn the limitations of our language, that almost sounds nonsensical.

I do agree with you mostly on how it came about in our species, I just emphasize the social aspect because it probably led to our need for such outsized brains, compared to most other species on the planet. A keen consciousness, an awareness of self, would be necessary to be able to effectively communicate complex thoughts and emotions to others of the same species.

You are correct in noting that we have little control over our thoughts and little control over many of our emotional and physical reactions. Some of these are instinctual, such as pulling a hand off a hot stove, and indeed it doesn't even require the brain to do it, but the automatic nervous system, which we haven't even talked about. Does shorten reaction times though. I do think that much of it is conditioned, so at least can be influenced, if not by us, then by others.

How about this for a mind bender, does our consciousness need to be continuous? In other words, is it on all the time? If, as I think you and I are postulating, the consciousness, as a emergent process of the brain, creates a construct of continuity, so that we think of our 5 year old selves as ourselves just as much as yesterday's selves, perhaps this means that consciousness isn't a continuous activity. Perhaps, in a sense, we cease being ourselves when we fall unconscious, as a normal part of living, rather than disease or injury killing our consciousness, it disbands, perhaps every night. In the morning, it reconstitutes itself which would mean that we wake up a slightly different person, but one who thinks they are the same as the person who fell asleep the night before.

Perhaps that's what dreaming is, our consciousness turning off, forcing the brain to review the events of the day, figure out what is important or not, and distracting other parts with a "movie" of sorts to pass the time, more or less.

Now, onto philosophy, would this person still be the person they were before? Does this question even make sense? Does the answer even matter?

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