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May 18, 2011 / theslowblitz

Consciousness

My consciousness is nothing but an observer. It has no power to change anything, and is instead purely incidental. The qualia I experience has no reason but to be. The colour which I perceive may instead be any other colour and it would make no difference; the light rays which enter my eyes would provoke the same effect whether I deem it as ‘red’ or ‘yellow’.This thought suggests to me that all beings have consciousness, since there is no particular requirement for consciousness save for being alive. There is a line between the conscious and the non-conscious, drawn somewhere between humanity and my couch. It is plausible that a bat conceives, having a mammalian brain, but does a fish perceive?

If perception is merely the processing of experience, then it seems likely that fish too have a consciousness, even if what they experience is dramatically different from what we perceive. It is possible to conceive of such a difference, even if it cannot be directly perceived: we know that the colour blind see things differently from us, even if we cannot see in the way they see. The differences are evident in our actions.

The consciousness can observe itself, but only through the sense it has been given, and thus the mechanisms behind consciousness can never be experienced, as such would require consciousness to already exist. The biological roots of experience are thus never known in full, and here we lose sight of the chain of causality between events and our actions.

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