re: virus: FAQ: new questions

Dan Plante (
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 14:04:16 -0700

the great tinkerer writes:
(q) what is conciousness?

At 04:11 PM 16/06/99 -0400 Eric Boyd wrote: <<
Consciousness is self-directed thought -- it is an intellectual magic mirror, reflecting not only our current self (gnosis), but also, with training, that which we wish to be.

How about: "The mind is a manifestation of the functioning of the brain - that is, the mind is what the brain does. In turn, the mind can be seen to operate in certain ways; it expresses emotion and desire, it recieves data from its environment by way of our senses, it analyses data to detect patterns, it recalls information from memory, it performs associations and correlations between new data and old information in memory, etc. All this activity can be globally defined as a coordinated process of "perception". When we percieve things external to our selves (i.e. our external environment), we are said to be "aware". Conversely, when this mental process is directed inward, it detects itself. At this point, the mind is aware of its own process; it is aware of itself. This is "self-awareness".

CoV suggests that "conciousness" is simply each individual's own particular subjective experience of the internal dynamics of self-awareness.

CoV would also like to point out that, implicit in the above description of the processes of mind, is the acknowledgement that self-awareness (and therefore conciousness) is not an "all-or-nothing" phenomenon. Different individuals posess differing degrees of proficiency in the assorted processes of mind detailed above, including the proficiency in coordinating and guiding this process. All this ensures that individuals will differ in terms of the degree of conciousness or self-awareness they experience. This, in turn, can profoundly affect how we subjectively interpret what we percieve, and even what we choose to percieve in the first place (eg. what interests us, or what our desires are). Therefore, since the degree of our self-perception, and the efficacy of its coordination dictate our behaviour, it can have a profound impact on individual happiness and the quality of our lives.

Key to this, in the estimation of CoV, is the role emotion and desire play in the process. Without a minimum investment in truthful, critical self-analyis, we cannot identify the true motivations for our actions, especially the detrimental ones. Our habitual, knee-jerk desires and emotions will dictate behaviour that may not be in our best interest in the long run.
Therefore, our degree of counciousness and a happy, fulfilled life, are inextricably intertwined.

The good news is that most everyone (barring some specific pathology) is capable of reaching a greater degree of awareness-of-self, and of living an "examined life". Certainly, as described above, some of us will have inherent faculties that make this trip an easy one. Some of us may have to work harder at it, or longer, or both, but almost everyone is capable of it.

Some of us may point out a logical fallacy in the above, insisting that, since our emotions and desires dictate our behaviour, those who want to examine their lives will already have done so, and those that don't want to won't do it. This reasoning is correct, but only in a static world. As we become less and less satisfied with our lives, we quite naturally want to escape the cycle and feel happy and fulfilled. When we end up wanting it more than anything else (eg. more than the brief veneer of happiness that our current behaviour, driven by our current desires and emotions, gratuitously provide us), we are ready for something else. What the CoV provides is a framework for a new, more satisfying and enduring life experience, and the mental tools to recognise and achieve it for each individual.

Each individual's own degree of conciousness is a measure of their own self-knowledge, and how that self interacts with the rest of the world. If you want a life that fits yourself, you have to know yourself.

NOTE to CoV'ers: I know, it's long, but I couldn't see a workable way around it. The density and subtlety of the subject matter, combined with the desire to appeal to and resonate with as many wandering Internauts as possible, drove the length and wording.