Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Thought Up For Grabs: Consciousness

May I offer: Consciousness is the passive awareness of, but not active participation in, the pre-determined cause-effect operation of our human neural sysytem.

In consciousness we watch ourselves (are conscious of) our own predetermined patterns of behavior to external events as they start out from primitive inner responses (anger or sexual attraction, for example); then we watch as our system measures those primitive flows against our historical precedents, stored in our memory. Then we watch further as new pathways are carved into our action circuits due to the inner primative/memory negotiation; creating final either inward (remaining as thought) or outward actions in the service of what our system perceives as its best interests.

All that 'watching' is called consciousness; 'being present'--but I would argue--not necessarily participating in, an automatic process.

The 'watching', especially the awareness of the resultant new action/response patterns, gives us the illusion of 'conscious free-will', of choosing those newer actions of our life; when in truth, all those inner-process activities, the primitive response as well as the subsequent interaction of our memory banks modifying the primitive responses are pre-determined; that is, beyond any exercise of any free will.

Consciousness is real; free will is its illusion.

It is like being present at a war, emotionally experiencing it, and then believing we fought in it and determined it's outcome.

A similar analogy: we become aware we have a fever (the primitive body in its disease fighting mode) and we assume we 'choose' to take our temperature and then an aspirin, and watch/register the temperature-reading and taking of an aspirin as if we have made a 'free-will' decision; we think we are choosing/determining to take them, when in truth, we are just watching the process of how our inner neural circuit's experience of, and memory of, fevers, temperatures and aspirin modulates and determines is own next activity: the taking of the aspirin.

Watching 'pre-determined activity', and assuming consciousness's active engagement in, is, as such, an illusion...creating the glorious but sadly erroneous concept of free-will.


Blogger Ziyah said...

I'll grab this thought ...
My god you write lucidly.

7:16 AM  

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