[quote author=“Cory”]How do you define consciousness?
Obviously, there is no simple, pithy statement that sums this up, as our understanding of it is rudimentary. Essentially I think of it as a subjective state of awreness or perception occurring as the result of complex and temporally overlapping neural network activations in the brain. I think this awareness or perception can be of external things (your “other”) and usually is.
However self-consciousness implies an awareness of one’s own internal processes, and I think this can exist without an other, though in practice I wouldn’t say it very often does.
Just consider the very language you are using to describe what you feel might be an acausal, non-dual state of consciousness: “self consciousness implies an awareness of one’s own internal processes”.
You are seperating the self from the self’s internal processes. Implying an awareness of these seperate processes. So there is a division between the awareness and the object of awareness. So we can see cause and effect here. There can be no self without an object of consciousness.
I would also say that consciousness is, in some ways, an illusion created by the fact that we feel as if we have mental continuity in time and space
In my view, this is indeed how it appears. I certainly don’t see any reason for believing in a soul, or an inherently existing self. In other words, I don’t see things as having any indiviudal essence. All things are like an eddy in a stream, coming into being and then forever vanishing.
The eddy doesnt inherently exist, but is simply the expression of everything.
though in fact this sense of continuity is an artefact of the functioning of our nervous systems. It’s a useful artefact, and I’m willing to treat it as if it were what it feels like it is most of the time, since I think the perception we have of how our minds work is a good enough model for the actuality on a day-to-day basis, if not a good model for the true underlying neurology.
It does lead us astray into dualism pretty easily, but again there is a difference between viewing consciousness as a phenomenon and experiencing it and utilizing it in a more quotidian way.
Yes, there is a difference between abstract, objective, intellectual consciousness and the relatively more unconscious mode that is sensual, emotional, subjective, go-with-the flow. (if that’s what you mean)
[quote author=“Cory”]No, that’s incorrect. A sensation only makes sense because it is relative to a contrasting difference.
For instance, the speed of something must always be measured relative to something else.
Bad example, since speed (aka velocity) is not a sense but a measurement or property of a moving object.
Speed is a sensation percieved by vision. Much like sound is a sensation percieved by hearing. Vision is the sensation of depth, of color, form, of speed, etc.
If I see yellow, it makes no difference whether any other color exists or is seen by me. The particular wavelength of light stimulates the relevant molecules in my retina, then neural processing and subjective perception follow. Now, this is an example of a cause/effect relationship, but I still don’t see why you think two senses are required for any one to exist.
If you were born into a condition where your vision was limited to only yellow, then there would be no way you’d be able to see unless you could detect yellow at different shades. Therefore, the light wave of yellow can only exist in consciousness if variations of the color can be sensed. The sensation of darker yellow would contrast with the sensation of lighter yellow. Therefore, it holds true that a color(sensation) can only exist in consciousness when it is distiguished in contrast to a variation of that color(sensation).
But furthermore, for the person in this condition, the word yellow, or even the word color, would be meaningless to him. The only thing he would be capable of distinguishing would be different shades, as he would have no way of making sense of what the word yellow or color meant.
Ah, but what if he could formally see colors, but had an accident that left his vision limited to yellow? Well, since he has memories of other colors, then the concept of yellow would make sense. But if he was only born with yellow, then the word, the concpet of yellow would be meaningless.
He would only be left with the ability to see distinctions in shade. The sensation of darker shade in contrast with lighter shade.