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According to Nagel, a being is conscious just if there is “something that it is like” to be that creature, i.e., some subjective way the world seems or appears from the creature’s mental or experiential point of view.
It sounds as complex as it appears. Consciousness is a tough nut to crack and till now no one has caught one of its fingers.
There are various questions which need an answer.
First we are a zygote. Or I must say. First we are atoms which form molecules which form organelles which organise inside a cell.
Then embryo. And at certain point this lump of cells becomes conscious.
When and how it is not clear. May be one day we could pin point the exact point at which zygote becomes conscious.
How to detect consciousness. How we say that a particular thing is conscious.
By observing behaviour of the organism. Or with our intuition.
But it is not foolproof.
A patient in, ‘locked in state’ is conscious but cannot show external behaviour to confirm it.
Few people with anaesthesia unawareness are conscious; but cannot show behaviour when under anaesthesia.
A starfish has no nervous system; but can evade obstacles.
A fly eating plant can differentiate between drops of rain and insects. It even remembers touch pattern on its hairs. It hence remembers events. Is it conscious like us
Plants show care of each other and effect of touch in subtle but definite ways.
Advanced AI and deep learning can show features of a thinking mind without being alive.
So question becomes sticky. What is consciousness?
Then there is one more problem.
Our consciousness is last to register a decision.
Intuition and our brainstem knows few milliseconds earlier about our next movement.
It has been shown repeatedly in scientific experiments in which scientists can guess the next movement even before the person performing the task becomes aware of this.
Benjamin liver showed that activity can be detected 300 milliseconds earlier in motor cortex before action occurs.
Our senses send signals at different speeds to our brain, which integrates them by the process of binding and creates a coherent and synchronous conscious feeling.
Hence what we see as present is actually a little distant past; which has happened few milliseconds earlier. We see a movie that whole subconscious has uploaded few milliseconds earlier after editing it expertly.
Hence we see the past and brain has already decided a particular thing few milliseconds before your consciousness knows it.
So is consciousness a driver or a observer?
It is likely that consciousness is last to know what brain intends to do and hence it cannot change thing which has already been decided before it knows.
It is a sort of spooky weird thing.
So where is the free will of an organism?
Can you decide to change a thing with consciousness . It looks like subconscious needs no direction from our consciousness to do most of the things.
You are not aware of automatic things like breathing or digestion or beating of the heart or secretions of liver, until something goes wrong.
When we die then also; consciousness leaves before life goes.
Various scientific views about consciousness.
Everythig is conscious. Thus is called Panpsychism.
Consciousness cannot be deciphered by our brain. This is hard problem of the consciousness.
Consciousness is an inherent property of the matter and is strange to understand.
Consciousness is an emergent phenomenon.
Still we are far from the right question about consciousness.
Inspiration – Conscious by Anaka Harris