Mahmut Tolon

mahmut tolon population evolution articles books kitaplar makaleler

Definition of Consciousness 9/24/2008


Definition of Consciousness

In the following I will briefly try to describe a postulate about the essence of  consciousness: Three aspects are necessary to understand  this concept : 1 Evolutionscience 2.Time and 3. the concept of self/non-self.

Psychologists have defined different levels of consciousness with different theories. Consciousness has been investigated in neurones under electronmicroscopes and with neuro-magnetic-imaging with the help of  MRIs.

The evolution of the eye is for example a subject which a person  needs to have a notion of for better understanding of what is written here.  Imagine the first living beings developing the sense for light cells getting together and thus being able to percieve the direction of light. After hundreds of million years we now have homo sapiens who  needs about 20% of oxygen and energy they  consume for cerebral functions among others for evaluating what is seen.

An understanding of the evolution within time  is necessary and one of the most helpful books I have found, to develop a notion for time, is a non scientific novel by Sten Nadolny-The Discovery of Slowness which I recommend to my students. The  idea of a definition  developed slowly in my mind while working on the book Bias is Beautiful.

From the very first cell in any living being starts differentiating into self/non-self. We are naturally thus only able to perceive our world in terms of us and them or (what we believe to be) good for us and not good for us. All our senses and perceptions are a sum and extrapolation of a multitude of this input with all the deviations(from indifference), bias or prejeduces which are nothing else but working “cultural”  hypothesis of our minds.

As stated above our  biology causes us to divide the world into self and non-self, even on the cellular and  immunological level.  “Foreign” bodies must be expelled, to protect the homeland. The same thing happens socially.  Language, for example, creates social markers that help define us and them, dividing generation from generation, social class from social class, even neighborhood from neighborhood.

Imagine! In prehistoric times a tribe became so large that some members of the tribe wandered off, eventually forming another tribe. Different languages will develop. Hostility and even warfare replaced interaction.  But what about those who stayed put?  Rivalry also developed between and within families.  Each family wanted its children to guarantee the family’s long-term survival and to do better than children in other families.

Humans always feel secure with those who are like them and insecure with  people who look, talk or behave differently. So the stronger will reject the weak, the inferior or simply those they feel threatened by.  They will cheat, fight or imprison others in order to gain control or power.

Different philosopies have resulted, different cultures and religions. We seem to end up with the need for a balance as yin & yang are both realities as laziness and hardworking or goodwill-benevolence and envy–jealosy. Concentration on one  and adoring or glorifiying or studying one does not make the other become less of a reality. Neither does forbidding, despising or ignoring  any one of the components. The duality of body and soul is another result of our basic (in-)capability of perception and I believe thus : consciousness is a result of the sum of self/non- self inputs.

Abstraction of or rather  the capability to overcome, transcend   this duality thinking has become more and more obvious in some  humans.

Over time things change. The way  we see things as a helpless child is different than how we see things as a young man or woman, and the perspective  of an elderly person is different still. A healthy person can only show  sympathy but cannot understand the sick. The rich have a different view  than the poor. If we follow this line of thought, we end up saying no two people are alike in their feelings, which also change with time. In other words, everyone’s view of things is biased by his or her circumstances (family,culture,country they are born,  socio-economic situation, the position of one’s parents within the power system,  gender) or  by age, by health and especially by the climate.  So can bias be a common denominator? I believe yes! It could make the difference if we were to accept this self- non self  as the basic way we can percieve things.

It is not only what is “useful” or “not useful” to oneself  as in interested interestguided perception but also what we believe is good for us we will see as often demonstrated in wars what we believe to be good for us often ends up in something bad for all, for the person or community or the nature around us. If we are by our nature limited in our perception capabilities.

It is  the explanation for the bias we all have and see the world with the knowledge of this.  Self-non self distinction begins  as early as the first cell.  The definition is simply :

Consciousness is the cumulative result of self-non/self  inputs throughout the evolution and the individuals’ lifetime.

Footnote: this  definition is published on my website for peer review  as this postulate can only become accepted if others and their findings  agree with it. 24th September.2008 mt

Pps One last remark to my kind reader: do u believe this article is far too simplistic and mixes too much socialsciences and biology?  Well J it is a good thing that we think., I believe. Dedicated to my duhlin doter’s neverchanging 29th birthday w kind regards mt

 

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March 30, 2012 - Posted by | Makaleler / Articles

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