Consciousness as a Moveable State

Consciousness is often depicted as something that we know very little about. This is probable; we can understand about the physical, biological aspects of consciousness, from what we have studied of people in unconscious states such as sleep. To study an unconscious someone might be considered unethical, and, as far as my knowledge, studies of people in comas have not been successful in terms of results.

If one were to look at consciousness as not one state, but a transition between states, one could say that consciousness is, in actual fact, transient. We are awake and are in one existence, we fall asleep, and the shocking change of reality[1] comes to us as a change of consciousness, when it is actually a jolt at the beginning of astral travel.

True, there is scientific evidence to show how our brain waves change during changes of ‘consciousness’. However, it cannot explain the change of depictions during these different states, for instance the vivid dreams one might experience during anaesthetic. We experience those depictions just as clearly as we see awake-life - and people have been known to think that they have been living when they have actually not been ‘conscious’.

Now, what about hallucinations? The whole probability of reality being the presence of consciousness changes when one considers that, as shown through a popular sci-fi aspect, humans under extra-persona control appear to live out a life as if it were ‘real’, even though we, from the outside may disagree. Perception is incredibly relative, and this is where we falter in defining which state is the correct one.

Posed with the question ‘if we understood everything about the brain, would we understand everything about consciousness and rational thought?’ and beyond answering that it would not be wise to know everything, since that takes away both the mystery and the want to strive for higher knowledge, I say that it is impossible to comprehend the actuality of consciousness, since this state (or absence of state) is revealed to ourselves through our perception. Thus, we cannot know about the consciousness of another without literally being in their mind.

We can think that we know, through science, what happens during decisions-making, but this reasoning may be flawed. To me, the brain is a chemical-biological organ, almost an organism itself, that has little relation to the metaphysical ‘mind’ and the point of rational thought. If brain – application and engagement of actions – were connected to mind – decision, thought and creative fluctuation – humanity would become sort kind of collective automata, making every move by what we know is the most efficient or most population-beneficial act. We would be stacks of Data, pointing out the obvious and ignoring the emotion content.

Life shows that this is not true. It is important to understand that rational thought is not ignoring one’s intuition, even if one intuits to do the ‘wrong’ thing. W D Ross acknowledged contradictions in the human self and he attempted to rectify this by creating Prima Facie[2], but it is difficult to pinpoint where to start.Neither is the consciousness of making choices simply a matter of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. How do we know what is right or wrong? This evolves from self-realisation. And humans have been known not to reason correctly. Scanning the brain often does not show why a psychopath makes a rational decision different to that which we might socially expect.

These things cannot be proven by examining the brain, because they lie in the relative self and mind of every individual.

[1] See research such as astral travel or reality jumping during sleep.

[2] Latin: At first appearance. A list of seven ‘duties’, including justice and kindness, help one know which is more important in certain situations.

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