Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Abode of Consciousness by Louis Evan Palmer

A key question regarding consciousness is if there is, in fact, an abode for it. Does consciousness reside in any one place? Another issue related to the abode metaphor is if there's ever an overlap of consciousnesses. Is it proposed that consciousness is one entity's perception and awareness of itself and its environs but that there is never a merging of one consciousness into another? Or, that if there is any type of merging that it's rare.

Another way of approaching the mystery of consciousness is as a process like the shining of a light in the dark. The existence around us to be perceived and aware of is there and our consciousness is whatever part of that "is-ness" that we alight on. We're consciously aware of that and nothing else. Our consciousness patches & remembers the various instances where our consciousness has alighted and that's how we gain an impression of wholeness or movement or continuity.

Other potential aspects of consciousness revolve around different levels of awareness and consciousness and the layering or aggregation of them into "higher" or more complex consciousnesses. In the same vein, there can be aspects of consciousness that revolve around interactions which posit that consciousness, or part of it, is a "conversation" or a "dance" - the consciousness is in the exchange, say, between two consciousnesses as a conversation, or as a dance, say, when between a consciousness and an awareness or an object or a force.

There is a problem with the old dualism issue - either matter and mind are separate and somehow interact or don't; or they are in reality aspects of each other. In most models, matter is primary and mind is an effect or process of it; in a very small number of other models, mind is primary and matter is an effect or aspect of it. From a consciousness perspective, this article will take the "mind is primary" route and see where that leads.

If the universe as we know it is "aware" either as a result of being created out of single indivisible supremely aware "substance" or as a result of awareness having an almost infinite range where even atomic interactions can be seen as representing a type of consciousness then we presented with a mind-boggling confluence of interactions and effects across all ranges of size and boundaries of space and time. It could be a place where everything from the smallest particles to the largest expanses of space to waves of every size and speed to "living" entities to memories of various types could form part of a consciousness spectrum. It's not important that some of these forms of "consciousness" might be intensely foreign to us.

This would be a universe where many types of consciousness could inhabit, overlap and interact simultaneously. In such a universe could there be elemental particles or energies associated with consciousness? Perhaps, a "cogiton" to join other speculative particles like the "graviton" and the "chroniton"?

Consciousness is a tricky phenomena as it typically includes psychological constructs like the "unconscious". This, however, opens up an important idea - the consciousness that we see and are somewhat aware of versus the vast underlying structure upon which it sits and interacts. This highlights that consciousness itself feeds from many tributaries, not all continuously or evenly interacting or available. The tributaries themselves are fed by various means. In the end, nothing is not touched or involved.

This view of consciousness may see it as an immense intricate "field" or "space". A large part of it may consist of "potentials".

In the Julian Jaynes book, "The Origin of Consciousness", among other things he talks about consciousness as the result of a conversation between the two hemispheres of the human brain. To extend this approach at the human level, what if there are varying degrees of awareness and consciousness throughout the entire human body. What if all the cells have a cellular consciousness; the organs their own distinctive awareness and intelligence - where "going with my gut" or "following my heart" is more than merely an expression? Does the large percentage of the human body occupied by bacteria affect its consciousness? If accurate then a picture emerges of a dialogue (possibly an occasional debate) among all parts of a body and its environs.

In such a world, trees and forests can have a consciousness; rivers and seas and oceans; everything. Each thing aggregating upwards and outwards, vertically and laterally. All the consciousnesses of a single bird in a flock aggregating into the awareness of the flock itself, perhaps spilling over into the wind. Different levels and types of consciousness absorbing and interacting all the time.

Can consciousness aggregate? And, if so, how? Can a higher or greater consciousness emerge from the merging and interaction of various consciousnesses?

Inevitably, this leads us to the definition of who we think we are. If consciousness is a process which always represents an interaction and its memory trace then if we believe we are our consciousness, we only exist when we interact or remember. As was asked in an earlier article, is your voice and spoken words "you"? Yes and No. Similarly, is your consciousness and its memory "you"?

It sounds a lot like what the great sage Nagarjuna stated: "Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves."

Can "awareness" exist if there is nothing to perceive? Or no-one perceiving?

The Abode of Consciousness, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be, http://twicb.blogspot.com
Copyright Louis Evan Palmer 

He lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications. 



iridescent cuttlefish said...

Much has been written on this penultimate question, but nowhere is the quirkiness, strangeness and charm that it invites more evident than in Craig Hamiltion's interview with Amit Goswami on The Self-Aware Universe (just before poor Amit was kidnapped by those What the Bleep fools).

The second page is where it gets really interesting, when they bring up "delayed choice"--I'm linking this version because it has further links embedded in the text which are also quite good.


iridescent cuttlefish said...

I don't know how you can read anything in this tiny window, so here's that link again:


The Way It Can Be said...


Thanks for the link..

Read Amit's book not long ago but since it's so incredibly dense, will definitely have to re-read. The interview brings out things that I seem to have missed like the terms "upward causation" and "downward causation"..

Currently, I'm leaning towards the idea that perhaps "god" or "true nature" does not possess, or exercise, "will" at all in this universe - only expressing and manifesting "our" will.


Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff... I recently discovered a new book on Jaynes's ideas called Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness by Marcel Kuijsten that you might also enjoy.

The Way It Can Be said...

Thanks muchly for reference to this new
book "Reflections..."

Didn't know about it until your comment.

Looking forward to getting a hold of it..