this page we'll treat the phenomenon of consciousness from a phenomenological
point of view, i.e. seen as an observable aspect of evolution. We'll
not discuss here about its subjective, psychological nor about possible
philosophical or even religious implications.
The nature of
organization. In its evolution towards
ever more complex systems, universe needed a steering system for the organization
of those systems. Such a system can be considered as a kind of regulating
code or programme, that enables certain situations and avoids some other.
In this programme, we could say that experience is added, so the evolving
system don't have to restart each time from scratch.
Up to now, nature
used three methods of organization:
structure of the system itself, enabling and preventing some possible moves and combinations,
thus enhancing and limiting coincidence, and elevating evolution from chaos.
This steering principle regulated evolution during the dead matter levels 1 trough 5. DEFINITION
(2) a structuring
code (DNA), in which the experience of the past is recorded. This code guides
the development and behaviour of the systems during the biological stages 6 trough 8.
(3) with man (level
8 through 9), biological evolution stops because the universe switches
to another steering tool: consciousness or intelligence.
Insight becomes the organizing principle. Complementary to the instincts,
a learning ability is developed, and the development of intelligence is
further stimulated by interaction possibilities (communication) starting
with spoken language, enhanced by written communication (that got a boost
with Gutenberg's printing tool, books and press), electric communication
(telegraph, phone, radio, TV) and, eventually, at least up till now, by
an evolved organization tool used by nature to coordinate the activities
of the highest metazoa, and allowing them to build layer 9 of the evolution
of the universe --i.e. socialization and the Noosphere. It functions by
the possibility to build an internal "image" of external reality.
This "image" can
not be compared with a photograph (neither is a camera "conscious" of its
image, nor is the text editor "understanding" its text). Comparing with
a computer, there are several differences:
of brain data are linked (associated) with experience: emotions
and/or possible actions. In computer terms brain contains rather subroutines
than "neutral" data. Purely "neutral" information is very difficult to
keep and to use, as every student knows. This brings us to a
more precise definition of consciousness:
2. thanks to our
faculty of abstraction we constantly induce mental generalizations from our sensory observations. This enables us to induce general "laws",
and to react rather successfully in situations we never experienced before,
but that are analogous to some of our former experiences.
3. as our brain is
mainly soft-ware, unlike insects' brains, learning new behaviours
becomes very simple.
4. by recombining
our memorized experiences and the general rules we induced from them, we
can project parts of reality we never observed: as a tourist who
has a fairly good image of a country before he visits it.
5. and, most important,
we can imagine parts of reality that not yet exist. These suppositions
can be partly wrong, but can be corrected in imagination and of course
also by tentative experience. This is creativity. This enables us
to make things that never existed, and to change existing reality: evolution
has been freed from coincidence, necessity and blind trial, and takes an
ever accelerating speed, eventually leading to a singulartiy.
6. all these faculties
are highly enhanced and accelerated by communication, from verbal
speech to internet.
is the faculty of humans (and, partially, of higher animals/I should exclude
primitive animals, plants and minerals) to develop an internal image
of external reality (including of course their own body and mind).
This internal image consists of (1) a multitude of memorized experiences
depicting some external aspects of (parts of) reality, but includes (2)general
laws (hypotheses) that rule those phenomena, (3) suppositions about parts of reality never observed (neither observable, e.g. electrons,
the past), and (4) suggestions for things yet to "create".
Some other essential
characteristics of consciousness
- It is
never complete. It keeps developing during life, and is partially
transmitted to next generations. This makes clear that
the "objective" part of the brain, i.e. the memories of observations and
real experiences, is perhaps the least important part of the brain contents.
The most important -and greatest- part is created by associations: induction
and deduction, leading to abstract rules and categories, suppositions about
unobserved reality, and new ideas.
- Most elements
of consciousness are "partial": mental images consist of some aspects,
but not (yet) of all aspects of objects. By integration they get a chance
to become more complete.
- At any moment
we are only conscious of a part of what our brain contents: our actual
conscious views fluctuate with emotions, mood, fatigue, recent experiences,
- Only a little
part of our consciousness can be verbalized: the "conscious" part.
The most important part remains "unconscious", i.e. can only be
"felt" or indicated by images, symbols, poetic language, art, etc. Usually,
general "rules" only come to surface as vague "intuitions". Inventive people,
including EInstein, usually aren't able to explain how and why they found
In their mental activities,
human beings tend to evolve from simple, egotistic and direct preoccupations
as food, sleep and sex, and fighting the ennemy, passing through earning
money, looking for social success and amusement, towards less mundane preoccupations
as happiness, beauty, art, the meaning of life and existence, and the sense
of evolution and how to influence it.
Wilber stresses much this progressive development. At a separate page we discuss
these levels of consciousness.
"Noosphere" can be
defined as the part of consciousness preoccupated with "higher" and more
fundamental phenomena in life and universe, and shared by a number of people.
in his The Spirit of Internet, depicts this global conscioussness
as the very contents of the emerging Internet.
In an older
page, we report a discussion with R. Thompson about consciousness.
Seiberl adds that
consciousness presupposes a certain state of mind to be able to interpret
the observations in the right way:
usually call reality is what we perceive; and what we perceive depends
on our level of consciousness at the present moment. We can live the same
experience at a physical-conscious, emotional-conscious, self-conscious,
planetary-conscious, cosmic-conscious, spiritual-conscious level, or we
can do something without being conscious: is up to us. The Movie The
Matrix expresses very well the concept of the subjective perception
of reality and its evolution. But other phenomena
could play a role in the emergence of consciousness and creativity:
We can't have a complete
understanding of something that we haven't experienced and analogously
we can't perform an evolutional breakthrough, a jump in the new state [of
consciousness] if we don't experience the related form of energy transmission:
e.g. we can't have a complete comprehension of what is Spirit (and
Spiritual Evolution) until we experience Spiritual Love and Bliss.
Creation, co-creation refer to the mental process by which our unconscious manifests itself through
an artistic activity: during this process we are tuned with the evolutional
core of the universe.
the realm of consciousness and unconsciousness is investigated by scientific
method: f.e. I refer to Rupert Sheldrake's Seven
Experiments about the Morphic Field and the Global
Consciousness Project but we can experience it directly by Mystic Practices.