Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Thursday, April 02, 2009

What is consciousness, how does it work, and why does it love?

...Some metaphysical speculations...

Where does consciousness come from?

You could theorise that it comes from a kind of existence where 'reality experiences itself' rather than 'reality describes what exists'.

What does that mean? Well, when you're conscious you experience very vivid sensations in your mind; the redness of a car, the sound of birds chirping, and so on. Your brain isn't just saying 'OK there's a red car, there's some sounds' and so on, it actually makes you feel the sensations that it is processing. The processing circuitry of the brain doesn't just describe, it also experiences. Experiencing versus describing is what I mean by 'reality experiences itself' versus 'reality describes what exists'.

Another way of putting it is that the brain could theoretically just describe redness (like in a computer program) and never 'feel' redness in the Mind's eye, but it does. This is kind of like reality itself experiences red, rather than merely describes red in the equivalent of a lot of 1's and 0's.

From where comes this 'reality experiences itself' kind of existence that could be thought of as consciousness?

We normally think of the universe as having a solely 'descriptive' kind of existence. The physical laws of the universe describe the universe down to a tee. If you knew the mathematical laws governing the universe, then you would know (effectively) everything about the universe. If the universe is merely a description of some information about laws, then that doesn't seem to leave much room for a 'reality experiences itself' kind of existence.

What's more, almost every kind of reality that we can imagine seems to be missing that special quality that would make a 'reality experiences itself' kind of existence something that you could predict from it.

I think that one needs to use another idea of reality to answer this, radically different to our universe, where it is easy to draw such a connection.

One feature of every world that we can comprehend is that it is always filled with distinctions. Distinctions between various heights, sizes, lengths, dimensions, wavelengths, etc.

Is it possible that there is a mode of reality where there is existence with no possibility of distinctions? A distinction-less, 'undifferentiated unity of everything'?

(An illustration of this kind of reality above, click to enlarge)

I believe this is what 'infinity' symbolises. A mode of being without distinctions encompassing the ALL, the everything. See my argument for this view here, and here[2].

I think that the 'reality experiences itself' kind of existence probably comes from the world without distinctions, the 'undifferentiated unity of everything', the being of God. This is a reality which grounds all possible things in its being, it is the 'being itself' of theologians. This distinction-less unity experiences being reality itself.

This may allow one to argue for a 'reality experiences itself' mode of existence to do with God. But surely, human consciousness is pretty far from the distinction-less, infinite 'ALL' that encompasses everything...

Ah, but you could think of it like this: human consciousness results from a 'blend' of the undifferentiated unity with our brains. The uniting of the distinction-less world and a human brain creates qualia (consciousness) as the 'cherry on the top' of the cake of the brain.

(Picture of mind versus matter above, click to enlarge)

So God's consciousness is an 'undifferentiated unity of everything that experiences being reality itself', and He localises this consciousness within our brain, creating an 'undifferentiated unity that experiences being reality itself when it comes to our brain'. That is, humans have access to an 'reality experiencing itself' mode of existence that applies only to our brain. This makes intuitive sense - we feel our consciousness as a single whole containing everything we are, coming up out of our brain.

God's gift to us is that He allows the brain to access His world. This makes us conscious because we access the 'reality experiences itself' mode of existence that God has (confined to our brain).

(Picture of this process above, click to enlarge)

So to sum up,
a) consciousness comes from infinity, properly conceived as distinction-less existence,
b) we are conscious because God 'localises' distinction-less infinity within our brain. This allows our brain to access distinction-less existence applying to the area of our brain.

But why is God (the infinite 'undifferentiated unity') love? (1 John 4:8)

A = A in our world. The chair a person is sitting on is/equals a chair.

That's the law of identity, the most fundamental law of logic.

Is there an 'A = A' for a world without distinctions, the world of undifferentiated unity?

I think it is love. An active, conscious identification with what exists as opposed to things just passively existing. It is love rather than a mere 'identifies with what exists', because the 'identifies with' is conscious. To put it in a rather abstract way, a conscious 'identifies with' must be love rather than a mere 'A = A'.

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