There’s no doubt that consciousness is a complex concept, and even scientists and philosophers need help to define it. But despite its complexity, consciousness is something we all experience daily.
So what is consciousness? In short, consciousness is awareness. It’s the ability to be aware of your surroundings and the thoughts and feelings that you’re experiencing in the present moment. It’s a fundamental part of the human experience.
Of course, there’s more to consciousness than that. Please keep reading to learn more about the complex concept of consciousness and what it really means.
The Human Brain
The Human Brain, perhaps the most complex piece in the known universe, consists of billions of neurons connected to each other in complicated ways. This complexity gives rise to our rich mental lives and may also be responsible for consciousness.
However, other scientists believe consciousness is not a product of the Brain’s complexity. Instead, they think that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe.
How Does The Brain Generate Consciousness?
Since consciousness is not fully understood, we know that it arises from activity in the Brain. Precisely, consciousness is thought to be generated by interacting with different brain regions, including the thalamus, prefrontal cortex, and parietal cortex.
What Is Consciousness, Really?
Consciousness is the awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and senses. It’s the part of our Brain that allows us to be aware of what’s happening around us and make decisions. Consciousness allows us to be mindful of our surroundings and think, feel, and move. It comprises different brain parts, including the cerebral cortex and thalamus.
When you’re conscious, you’re awake and aware of what’s happening around you. You’re asleep or in a coma when you’re not mindful.
There are some different levels of consciousness, including:
- Alert – You’re awake and aware of your surroundings.
- Confused – You’re awake but may be confused or disoriented.
- Delirious – You’re awake, but your thinking is impaired, and you may see or hear things that aren’t there.
- Coma – You’re unconscious and cannot be awakened.
- Brain death – You’re unconscious, and your brain function has permanently stopped.
Consciousness is crucial because it allows us to interact with our environment and make decisions.
The Hard Problem
The complex problem of consciousness explains why and how we have conscious experiences. This is a complex problem because it is hard to explain how physical matter can give rise to conscious experience. Scientists are still working to understand how consciousness arises and its purpose.
Why Does It Exist?
There is no one particular answer to this question. Some scientists believe consciousness is a by-product of the Brain’s complex information processing. Some religious people believe that consciousness comes from God or another higher power. It is still a mystery why consciousness exists.
How Can We Measure It?
There is no perfect way to measure consciousness, but scientists have developed some methods to help us understand it better. These methods include EEG (electroencephalography), fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), and PET (positron emission tomography) scans.
Some Theories Of Consciousness
Mark Solms’ Theory
Mark Solms is a South African psychoanalyst who believes consciousness arises from the brainstem. His theory is based on the fact that the brainstem is the only part of the Brain that is necessary for survival. It controls the autonomic nervous system, which regulates heart rate and breathing. The brainstem also contains the reticular formation, which is responsible for alertness.
According to Solms, the brainstem is the most basic level of consciousness, and consciousness gradually emerges as the Brain develops. This theory is supported by research that shows that infants and animals with brain damage to the cortex can still maintain a basic level of consciousness.
Panpsychism, The Universal Consciousness
Panpsychism is more like a belief than a theory. It’s hard to test panpsychism ideas scientifically because consciousness is difficult to define and quantify. But there is some evidence that panpsychism might be true.
One piece of evidence comes from quantum mechanics. In the early 1900s, physicists found that subatomic particles behave strangely and unpredictably, which led some physicists to suggest that particles might be conscious.
Particles might be conscious because they exhibit what is called quantum entanglement. This means that particles can be connected in a way that is not physical. They can influence each other instantaneously, even if they are separated by great distances.
Some physicists have suggested that this strange behavior could be explained if particles are conscious and able to communicate with each other.
Panpsychism also explains why the universe is orderly. If all matter is conscious, it can respond to stimuli and influence its surroundings. This could create the impression of a purposeful and orderly universe, even without an intelligent designer.
It is a complicated theory to prove, but it is an exciting idea that could help us understand consciousness’s nature.
The Wrapping Things Up
We still have a lot to discover about the whole workings of our consciousness, and maybe one day, we will have the ability to better understand its origin. But, despite our need and curiosity to understand the origin of consciousness, we must keep in mind that it may be a tool responsibility of humanity to care about this planet and the creatures who live on it. Animals do not appear to know much beyond their immediate needs and sensations. Humans have the gift of abstract thought that allows us to imagine, achieve, create and understand what we can do with our future. It is in each one’s consciousness.