Consciousness, what is it?

I have recently begun to read Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are, that provides readers with the basis of who we are and how we develop a personality. The first chapter describes philosophers and their approach to the self and consciousness. In light of what I recently read, I wanted to share my own personal perspective on consciousness from a philosophic approach rather than scientific.

What is consciousness is the question I aim to answer today.

In order to answer this question, we need to understand who WE are. If we consider ourselves our feet to our whole entire brain, then there can not be any un-consciousness. Why? Even if our self is not thinking about the actions we take every day, there is a part of our brain that does. For example, those seamless decisions, walking up the stairs, switching our brain functions off for sleep, or the fight or flight response ingrained in us. So if we consider our WHOLE entire brain ourselves, then there can not be any un-consciousness because a part of our brain is still thinking even if we do not recognize it. Consciousness must be what we recognize and there is a part of US that recognizes that.

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 8.52.57 PMAn argument against this philosophy is that we are not our whole entire self if we can think, conceive, and control those parts of ourselves. If we can think and conceive the actions we are taking, then that is not ourselves. Therefore, that would mean there are parts of our body that are not ourselves. Yet, that is impossible. We are our body, not just a vessel for it.

I suppose it comes down to the question do we really control our whole entire self? I would argue no. There are parts of human life that we are born with, mechanisms to protect ourselves, a need to sleep, eat, and have social interaction. We can not change these parts of ourselves as hard as we try.

It is interesting to also look at the religious connections to consciousness. In many religions, there is a striking divide between unconscious and unconscious. Buddhism, in particular, strives to reach this unconscious state. Yet, my question is that possible? Are we ever unconscious?

Please let me know your thoughts below. In the upcoming weeks, I will have a post about the neurology of Buddhism that delves into the scientific background behind consciousness rather than a philosophic approach. Please stay tuned for that.

 

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