Are You Even Conscious?
by phil on Saturday Aug 23, 2003 3:39 PM
The Purporsive Evolution and Involution of Consciousness in the Universe
500+ Links attempting to unravel the secrets of consciousness.
So I was reading Consciousness Explained by Daniel Clement Dennet (a.k.a. Daniel Dennet). I started out with the following mindset:
Consciousness is such a mystery, what is it? Where is all the stuff that I see. Is there a mind's eye? And is there a mind's mind's mind's eye?
I trucked through the first 100 pages, and Dennet pinned down many of the concerns regarding consciousness, among them the following:
- Mind-Body problem (Descartes felt there was this other space where computation happened and would then port into our brains somewhere)
- The actual locaton of what we see
- The composition of mind-stuff
However, toward the end of my 100-page journey, Dennet actually started to unravel the mysteries. He demonstrated certain things about my consciouness that I thought were one way when in fact they were actually illusions of a process going completely another way.
He provides mental exercises that do affect your way of seeing the world. For a few minutes after some of them, I had trouble seeing things like a normal person, i.e. I had trouble walking or reading signs--I was too aware of the process and started to doubt things in the ways described by Dennet
Needless to say, I felt that the conclusion I was getting was that All sacred concepts such as I, or an inner self, was just illusions building on illusions of subjectivity, cohesivness of perception, and a separation of inner perception from outer perception
It was also a fun text with modelling that was creative such as composing an argument over whether your mind functioned in a Stalinesque or Orwellian fashion... i.e. whether it would, as Stalin would, alter reality by staging events, or as the members of Minitrue in 1984 would do by constantly changing the archives retroactively
Needless to say, my curiosity was satiated and I stopped reading. I knew that if I kept on reading further I would eventually have a complete understanding of consciousness. All I wanted to get was the certaintity that consciousness was explainable and that I could access it through hand-waving if necessary but actually fully understanding consciousness ceased to amaze me.