Saturday, February 15, 2014
What Is Consciousness?
It would seem like the theories of physics and the structure of the universe would have little to do with the theories of the mind and consciousness. Even with a valid quantum theory of gravity to complement our quantum theory of charge, it is not clear how that would have anything to do with how our minds work.
Usually, when it comes to consciousness, science throws up its hands. These are hard questions that have no answers, it would seem, and of course, philosophy and religion are both perpetual discourses about hard questions that have no answers. Philosophy and religion both feel compelled to ask the questions nevertheless and try to answer them as well, which generates more questions, and so on. Just because matter time unites charge and gravity forces, it would not seem likely that that unification had much of anything to do with consciousness.
One theory reasons that consciousness is simply what happens when we are awake...okay. Another theory of consciousness ties it to the microtubules of the brain, where some kind of coupling with space occurs...okay. But in any event, there is no easy way to define consciousness.
Similarly, there is no easy way to define time and space and the three propositions of consciousness, time, and space all seem to bedevil our imaginations. Nevertheless, consciousness does seem very timelike and it would seem that consciousness is more like time and space than it is like either matter or action.
Unfortunately, philosophical discourses often begin without a description of the axioms that anchor the universe. With ill-stated assumptions that are usually implicit as some combination of matter and time and space and energy and so on, such discourses become confused. When the people involved have different beliefs and axioms that anchor their realities, they really can only discuss their different beliefs and their consistency, not any other discourse.
All objects are made of matter, but since energy is also matter by E = mc2, objects are then both matter as well as energy. Assuming that the universe is made up of only matter and time, that then means that there is additional matter beyond that of the objects we sense. Space is usually an object as well, an empty object that we do not sense, and so objects really are matter, energy, and space. Before you know it, there are both sensed objects and objects that consist of nothing but the empty voids between sensed objects. Space is an object that has dimension, but space has nothing in it…except many quantum particles jumping into and out of existence. Now there are different kinds of matter showing up here, there, and everywhere.
Current science bases the universe on a set of axioms that are notably incomplete and full of gaps in understanding.The basic difficulty that we have in describing consciousness has more to do with the patchwork of axioms in science than in any intrinsic complexity of the mind. A simpler, self-consistent description of reality seems to show a simpler, self-consistent description of consciousness as well.
Philosophers get into trouble very quickly by launching into discourses about the nature of the universe before carefully defining their axioms and beliefs for a universe. This is especially a problem since science does not yet provide a completely consistent set of axioms and beliefs in the first place. What is a property and what is a material? What is time and what is the action principle? Can matter exist as both amplitude with a phase and intensity devoid of phase? Does time have one or two dimensions? The projection of Cartesian space in our minds, for example, is a powerful and innate means for predicting action, but that projection of Cartesian space can blind us to the underlying simpler reality of matter time.
The properties of time and action are axioms and not objects of matter in our universe and so with matter time, our axioms end up defining each other as they should. Matter exists as objects by the differential of action with time and an action of the universe divided by a time moment is what results in matter. Although we think of matter as motionless and without action, all matter is in motion.
Time is the trickiest axiom to think about since our minds are very time-like and that makes consciousness just as tricky. Using our time-like thought to think about time is in some sense circular. As we think of time in the present moment, that moment includes the action of our thought about the present moment and we are somehow confused between time as the memory of action and time as the action of thought. As we think of time as a memory of action, we use the action of thought to imagine time as the actions of memory.
But memories and thought are both part of the matter of our brain and maybe we are confused between time as the matter of our memory and time as the matter of our thought. The fact that we obviously think as time passes fundamentally confuses us about thinking of time. Thought seems like time and time seems like thought, so the only way out of this conundrum is to use time's definition to also define consciousness.
Time is the differential of action with matter and our consciousness is similarly the differential of the action of thought with the matter of memory. The very way that we think is time-like, but our minds can either be experiencing a present action, remembering a past action, or imagining a future action.
When we experience an immediate action with sensation-feeling-action, consciousness is the action of thought with the matter of memory. When we remember or imagine action, we derive action from the matter of our brain and consciousness becomes the action of memory or imagination with the matter of thought. Time is an accumulation of matter moments as action divided by a matter moment where a moment of matter is like a clock tick or a neural moment. Action is the integration of matter objects in time and action is the basic result and cause of force of the universe.
So you can see now why a theory of the universe will also therefore be a theory of the mind. Our consciousness has all of the attributes of our reality and that consciousness is therefore a mechanism of our brain just like language is a mechanism of our brain. Although consciousness is innate to the mind, just like we learn language, we must also learn our innate consciousness by observing and imitating others.
Consciousness as learned behavior is analogous to language in the sense that even though the ability of language is innate to our mind and physiology, we still must learn a particular language by observing and imitating others in order to communicate. By the age three or four we acquire or learn a simple language and by the age of five or six, we further acquire or learn a simple consciousness as well. Just like language is how we use words to share stories, consciousness is how we act out those stories with other people.
Just like language allows us to communicate with each other, consciousness allows us to act with others and communicate and bond with each other and to have feelings of compassion for and selfishness of each other. In effect, consciousness is an evolutionary mechanism of our minds where people act to bond with other people and what we call rational thought is how we learn that we came from some origin, have a purpose beyond that of the primitive mind, and some kind of a destiny. With consciousness, we share a Cartesian reality of an outer life and a relational reality or an inner life and bond with other people, animals, and objects in a cooperative civilization that enhances our survival.
Our life and our consciousness are both prerequisites for and therefore depend on the primal beliefs that anchor that consciousness. There are primal beliefs that anchor consciousness just like there are languages that anchor communication, and so we all do need some kind of primal beliefs to anchor our consciousness. After all, we can only be alive and conscious if we both think and accumulate memories of experiences, which are the neural recursions of sensation, feeling, and action. Consciousness depends on both the action of thought and the static memory of experience and this combination of primal beliefs means that consciousness is time-like.
The theories of the mind are many and varied, but cognitive development occurs in certain key stages. By the age of about two, the primary anchors of Cartesian belief are that objects are permanent matter, that time is a sequence of actions, that space is a projection of time, and that prediction of action is the product of objects and time. These primary Cartesian anchors of matter, time, and action then permit learning relational anchors by age of about six that objects all have an origin, a destiny, and a purpose. Once a child learns the Cartesian and relational anchors of belief, the memory of action as experience begins a nascent consciousness.
Thus the basic axioms of matter time show up as they should as the basic Cartesian and relational beliefs that anchor consciousness.