Hello everyone, today I’ll do my best to explain the properties of consciousness – according to me.
This post is related to these pages
Seeing is Believing
Conscious thought and fuzzy reality
From which I’ll borrow some sentences.
I’ve read both of them several times to get a full understanding on the topic (I know, I’m not really smart).
To begin with, what it is to be conscious?
The state of being aware of and responsive to one’s surroundings.
Human beings and animals are among very few things which are responsive to one’s surroundings. We could say that automatic doors are responsive, car alarms as well, but we can’t call that consciousness can we? Sensors were built just to detect “anomalies”, while animals are responsive according to the degree of their intelligence, for instance you can’t pretend to find a bird saying to himself “No I won’t go near that cheese because it’s a mouse trap!” but you may see it in monkeys maybe.
Early ideas of consciousness can be traced very far back in history; it is a very human question to ponder. It is one that has troubled the minds of great thinkers for a very long time. Descartes was convinced that the human body and human consciousness were two separable items; the first a material body the second an immaterial item (if an item can indeed ever be immaterial).
Now for there first part to understand consciousness, we need to look into the non-observable domain. We’re aware that everything in the universe is made of electron, protons and neutrons but that’s not all, there are tinier things called quarks and even more tiny called bosons, unfortunately in science proof is very important, to call “it” a fact otherwise it will be just a theory.
Well, the most pertinent school of thought in philosophy of science is called Entity Realism. We cannot see quarks directly however what we can see is the effects they have on larger entities. The proponent of Entity Realism, Ian Hacking, reasons along these lines. He argues that we understand the properties of the electrons and even though we cannot see them we can change variables in the system to manipulate their behaviour in order to produce effects on larger observables which we can can see. Now this manipulation of the unobservable entities and their produced effects is though to be proof enough of their existence. As long as we can manipulate and intervene on scientific entities in a laboratory to create phenomena we expect, we are justified to believe in their existence as the causal entities at work in the observed effects.
That’s the problem why lots of scientists are atheists, if they can’t “manipulate” God or can’t see some proof of him, than he doesn’t exist. The answer lies here: We cannot see quarks directly however what we can see is the effects they have on larger entities.
Actually we can see the effects God has on small and large entities.
The Thunder 13 3-4
And it is He who spread the earth, and placed in it mountains and rivers. And He placed in it two kinds of every fruit. He causes the night to overlap the day. In that are signs for people who reflect. On earth are adjacent terrains, and gardens of vines, and crops, and date-palms, from the same root or from distinct roots, irrigated with the same water. We make some taste better than others. In that are proofs for people who reason.
The Bees 16 11-17
And He produces for you grains with it, and olives, and date-palms, and grapes, and all kinds of fruits. Surely in that is a sign for people who think. And He regulated for you the night and the day; and the sun, and the moon, and the stars are disposed by His command. Surely in that are signs for people who ponder.
And whatsoever He created for you on earth is of diverse colors. Surely in that is a sign for people who are mindful. And it is He who made the sea to serve you, that you may eat from it tender meat, and extract from it ornaments that you wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, as you seek His bounties, so that you may give thanks. And he cast mountains on the earth, lest it shifts with you; and rivers, and roads, so that you may be guided. And landmarks. And by the stars they guide themselves. Is He who creates like him who does not create? Will you not take a lesson?
The winds that scatter 51 20-25
And of His signs is that He created you from dust; and behold, you become humans spreading out. And of His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquility in them; and He planted love and compassion between you. In this are signs for people who reflect. And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your languages and colors. In this are signs for those who know. And of His signs are your sleep by night and day, and your pursuit of His bounty. In this are signs for people who listen. And of His signs is that He shows you the lightning, causing fear and hope. And He brings down water from the sky, and with it He revives the earth after it was dead. In this are signs for people who understand. And of His signs is that the heaven and the earth stand at His disposal. And then, when He calls you out of the earth, you will emerge at once.
The question is: why should the independent existence of objects rely on what we can see with our tiny eyeballs or what we can manipulate with our level of technology. If our technology so increases to be able to manipulate a quark, was the quark non-existent before? I think not. This reminds me of a similar philosophical line which equally gets on my grind ‘if a tree falls in a forest and no-one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?’ Of course it does, unless you believe the laws of nature are entirely dependent upon the perception of a particular species living on one planet.
Now to get back on the topic, is there a specific location for consciousness ? Some people believe that it is stored in the brain “The consensus is that consciousness comes from the brain” but they haven’t found real evidence of it. Well someone I know thinks that it is a part of our soul (Personally I think that’s the best theory so far). I know that some people don’t believe in spirits or souls but fortunately most of us do. Each and everyone of us has a soul with which he lives till he dies, that is what the Bible says in :
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
And the Quran:
The Groups 39: 42
God takes the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep; then He withholds those on whom He has passed the decree of death and sends the others back till an appointed term; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.
The Prostration 32: 7-9
(It is He) Who made good everything that He has created, and He began the creation of man from dust. Then He made his progeny of an extract of water held in light estimation. Then He made him complete and breathed into him of His spirit, and made for you the ears and the eyes and the hearts; little is it that you give thanks.
The Journey by Night 17: 85
And they ask you about the soul. Say: The soul is one of the commands of my Lord, and you are not given aught of knowledge but a little.
I think that the best approach is to say that our soul has a connection with our brain in an unknown way. Descartes said that the human body and human consciousness were two separable items, and that is precisely the thing.
Suggesting that perhaps what is responsible for our consciousness is processes which take place within neurons themselves rather than the interactions between neurons which is the conventional view.
Suggesting that the soul has connections with the brain in the quantum level, that may be the case. Now the brain will continue to run for 10 to 20 seconds after death but it remains conscious for about 3 minutes
eventually the activity will cease and the person will think no more; so what actually happens to it? If we are to take the approach that these things are stored via quantum mechanical processes then we must look to the idea that the information within the brain dissipates and is involved in irreversible reactions where it is lost from and the stored information is unwound into an unusable format
The fact that the brain remains conscious for 3 minutes makes me think that, that may be the time when we’ll be able to see our own life flashing before our eyes. Unfortunately we have very little knowledge about the soul but one thing for sure, the soul lives the body when the brain dies as well. That means that both are connected.
Some people asks themselves that if consciousness is in the quantum domain, are we real at all? aren’t we just a simulation?
That is a big question as well because some people believe that we’re not living our actual lives, this is just a memory. For example we’re already dead, we’re in our day of judgment and we’ve asked to be shown episodes of our lives for a reason or another – personally I don’t believe in this theory.
This author who has written lots of free downloadable scientific books, believe in it. According to him we could be living this life as if we were in a dream. Dreams are real when we’re dreaming them aren’t they? So for God, everything has already ended.
Because time does not exist in the sight of God, all things happen in a single moment, that is in the “present”. All events which we think of as past and future are present to God; in His sight everything is much more clear and vital than we can perceive. For example, at this moment Jonah (pbuh) is being cast into the sea as a result of the drawing of lots. At this moment Mary is speaking with Gabriel; Jesus (pbuh) is being born. At this moment Noah (pbuh) is driving the first nail into the ark and leaving the ark with his family at the place God chose for them.
This is just an extract of a book called Matter The Other Name for Illusion.
If some people don’t believe in something which can’t be proved, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But God knows best.