For centuries, scholars and scientists alike could not come to a conclusive definition for Consciousness. They generalize it as a state of being aware of yourself and surroundings, but even that isn’t satisfying enough. That generalization opens even more questions to the Consciousness debate such as: what about a person who is awake but in a vegetated state, are they still considered Conscious? What about the Philosophical Zombie idea? How can you truly understand that the person next to you is having the same experiences as you and isn’t like some kind of programmed being with no feelings at all?
As far as for finding the answer to those deep-rooted questions, they are years beyond now, but one person has come close to expanding the generalized definition of Consciousness with his theory. World renown physicist Michio Kaku, came up with the following statement: “[Consciousness] a process of creating multiple feed back loops to create a model of yourself in space, with your relation to others and in time in order to satisfy a certain goal.” This basically means having an awareness of yourself within space, being aware of time, being aware of others and your environment and having the experience of life to create the image that you know as yourself, to satisfy the idea of existing.
Kaku was definitely onto something. But when you really think about it, when you are asleep, none of these things actually happen. Your brain still operates allowing the body to regulate temperatures, to keep the heart pumping and other organ processes that keeps us alive. Though in this definition, while asleep, we no longer experience feed back loops, we are no longer aware of ourselves, others or the environment. So if these are keys to satisfy the idea of existence, do we actually exist? How can we know that our world continues to be the same while we sleep when we no longer have that awareness?
This relates back to the whole Philosophical Zombie concept. We can not prove or disprove that someone else feels what we feel, see what we see, hear what we hear. Like think about it, when you look at a color, let’s say red, and your friend looks at the same color, how can you know the red you see is the same in your friend’s eyes. What if your red, to you friend, looks like your green? Or does your friend even see a color? Who knows!
Going back to Kaku’s definition, he also discusses the levels of Consciousness.
Level one: Understanding your disposition in space.
– Reptiles and human babies have this level of awareness. They know they are alive, they know that they must eat and sleep to satisfy the natural urges of the body.
Level two: Understanding social hierarchy.
– Mammals understand this concept. They understand who is the authority figure in their society and they know their ranking within their communities and family.
Level three: Understanding time and the ability to dream.
– Humans are the only known Earthly creations that have the ability to understand yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are the only creatures who dream and can predict tomorrow.
All of these understandings make sense to an extent because it holds the same flaw as every definition of Consciousness that we know of, how can we know that is true? What if reptiles know of what comes tomorrow or what happened yesterday. What if monkeys dream? And like mentioned before, modern day technologies have only come thus far with understanding the complexity of the brain. I believe it was recently discovered (not that recent but relatively) that the brain loses some form of its Conscious focus on something unless you intentionally put the focus there. Consciously you won’t think about the tongue in your mouth or feel the chair that you sit on, but subconsciously your brain knows that you are sitting down and making sure your tongue doesn’t swallow itself. But I bet that now that I mentioned it, you just realized you have a whole mouth full of tongue and feel the texture of what your seat feels like. I believe that concept is called selective consciousness. Maybe this holds the answer to the question of if we are asleep, do we really exist.
With the hustle and bustle of day to day life, we drain the body of energy. In order to rejuvenate, we must sleep. That must mean the brain chooses to slow down the thoughts of the individual to recharge. It shifts the focus from doing day to day things such as walking, working, seeing and hearing. All other functions remain the same to allow the being to live by working in the background. Think of it like charging your phone, it’s still on, the background programs remain the same, but its on sleep mode to help it charge faster. You don’t need to be Conscious or better yet stay focused to breath every two seconds or to digest your food as you swallow. It happens Subconsciously or Selectively Consciousness
All in all, It’s a pretty deep topic as you can see and there is just so much to learn and understand. Maybe one day we will surely find the true meaning. But for now, let’s all agree on that it is the level of awareness that creates a satisfactory image of the individual through feed back loops experienced. There may be levels to how events are encountered but just like there is no one person that is the same, the Conscious and Subconscious experience is relative to the individual that experiences it.
If you enjoyed this topic and want to share or discuss what you feel Consciousness is, leave your thoughts in the comments down below.
And like always, may love, light and God guide you through your journey.
*I have linked below some videos sources that had me thinking about this subject. Check them out to get an even clearer or as close to clear view of Consciousness
Interview with Michio Kaku: Levels of Consciousness
Consciousness: Crash Course Psychology episode #8
Your Brain Hallucinates your Conscious Reality