Consciousness is the state or quality of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined variously in terms of sentience, awareness, qualia, subjectivity, the ability to experienceor to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood or soul, the fact that there is something “that it is like” to “have” or “be” it, and the executive control system of the mind. In contemporary philosophy its definition is often hinted at via the logical possibility of its absence, the philosophical zombie, which is defined as a being whose behavior and function are identical to one’s own yet there is “no-one in there” experiencing it.
Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is. As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.”
Western philosophers, since the time of Descartes and Locke, have struggled to comprehend the nature of consciousness and identify its essential properties. Issues of concern in the philosophy of consciousness include whether the concept is fundamentally coherent; whether consciousness can ever be explained mechanistically; whether non-human consciousness exists and if so how can it be recognized; how consciousness relates to language; whether consciousness can be understood in a way that does not require a dualistic distinction between mental and physical states or properties; and whether it may ever be possible for computing machines like computers or robots to be conscious, a topic studied in the field of artificial intelligence.
Thanks to developments in technology over the past few decades, consciousness has become a significant topic of interdisciplinary research in cognitive science, with significant contributions from fields such as psychology, anthropology, neuropsychology and neuroscience.
The primary focus is on understanding what it means biologically and psychologically for information to be present in consciousness—that is, on determining the neural and psychological correlates of consciousness. The majority of experimental studies assess consciousness in humans by asking subjects for a verbal report of their experiences (e.g., “tell me if you notice anything when I do this”). Issues of interest include phenomena such as subliminal perception, blindsight, denial of impairment, and altered states of consciousness produced by alcohol and other drugs, or spiritual or meditative techniques.
The origin of the modern concept of consciousness is often attributed to John Locke‘s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, published in 1690. Locke defined consciousness as “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind“. ..”Consciousness” (French: conscience) is also defined in the 1753 volume of Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, as “the opinion or internal feeling that we ourselves have from what we do.”
The earliest English language uses of “conscious” and “consciousness” date back, however, to the 1500s. The English word “conscious” originally derived from the Latin conscius (con- “together” and scio “to know”), but the Latin word did not have the same meaning as our word—it meant “knowing with”, in other words “having joint or common knowledge with another”. There were, however, many occurrences in Latin writings of the phrase conscius sibi, which translates literally as “knowing with oneself”, or in other words “sharing knowledge with oneself about something”. This phrase had the figurative meaning of “knowing that one knows“, as the modern English word “conscious” does. In its earliest uses in the 1500s, the English word “conscious” retained the meaning of the Latin conscius. For example, Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan wrote: “Where two, or more men, know of one and the same fact, they are said to be Conscious of it one to another.” The Latin phrase conscius sibi, whose meaning was more closely related to the current concept of consciousness, was rendered in English as “conscious to oneself” or “conscious unto oneself”. For example, Archbishop Ussherwrote in 1613 of “being so conscious unto myself of my great weakness”. Locke’s definition from 1690 illustrates that a gradual shift in meaning had taken place.
adding page this day:
Human Brain Project (@HumanBrainProj) tweeted at 4:31 AM – 22 Jun 2018 :
Day two panel discussion underway in Barcelona.
It only makes sense to have a sense of self if there are others out there that form part of interacting world, says Karl Friston. He adds that consciousness comes from the Latin for ‘knowing together’
#HBPInternationalConference https://t.co/57BSZ07gNx (http://twitter.com/HumanBrainProj/status/1010107978173870080?s=17)
Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) tweeted at 9:00 AM – 17 Dec 2019 :
This week’s guest on #UnderTheSkin is @anilkseth. Anil is a Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at University of Sussex.
Check out his Tedtalk on the topic consciousness here: https://t.co/Yb9UfkpWio
Listen this Sat 21st Dec only @hearluminary https://t.co/FzuN7ww1nM (http://twitter.com/rustyrockets/status/1206967289020588034?s=17)
notes from his anil’s on consciousness – Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality
consciousness for each of us is all there is.. w/o it there’s no world/self.. and when we suffer we suffer consciously
2 min – from my research.. consciousness has less to do w pure intelligence and more to do with our nature as living/breathing organisms..
some people say we know nothing about consciousness..
4 min – 2 parts to consciousness
1\experiences of the world around us
brain as a prediction engine – prior expectations/beliefs about the way the world is.. at 7 min – showing how this works with mumbled words.. then hearing again after hearing them regular
8 min – when perceptive predictions are too strong.. similar to what we’d see in psych hallucinations.. if hallucinations are uncontrolled perceptions.. then perception .. controlled hallucination
in fact.. we are all hallucinating all the time.. including right now.. it’s just that when we agree about our hallucinations we call that reality
2\ conscious self
9 min – experience of self also a hallucination
11 min – even experiences of what our body is is a kind of best guess
interoception – experiences of having a body are deeply grounded from out perceptions from within
perception of internal parts of the body isn’t about figuring out what’s there.. it’s about control/regulation (ie: only notice it spleen when something goes wrong) – keeping the physiological barriers w/in survival
14 min – all conscious experiences.. since they all depend on the same mechanisms of predictive perception.. all stem from this basic drive to stay alive.. we experience the world with/thru/because-of our living bodies
embodiment et al
what we consciously see depends on our brain’s best guess of what’s out there.. our experienced world comes from the inside out not just the outside in.. applies to what is and what is not our body.. experiences are more about control/reg..
we predict ourselves into existence
1\ just as we can mis perceive the world we can mis perceive ourselves.. helps w conditions like depression and schizo
2\ what it means to be me cannot be reduced to a software program on a robot.. we are bio flesh/blood animals.. experiences shaped at all levels.. just making computers smarter is not going to make them sentient
3\ our own individual universe.. our way of being conscious.. is just one way of being conscious
when the end of consciousness comes.. there’s nothing to be afraid of
self-talk as data