Where does consciousness originate? Is it all in your head?
Many theories on the source of consciousness have come to light. The materialist version suggests that consciousness is a byproduct of electrochemical stimulation of nerves in the brain. It essentially describes consciousness itself as an anomaly… a biochemical accident that produces this awareness, and when we die, the accident gets erased, and there’s nothing but proteins and base elements.
The materialist theory is based upon observations of material changes in the brain, and the associated changes in the consciousness of the subject. In other words, if you do something to the brain, the mind of the individual changes. They can point to experiments in lab animals, or trauma cases where brain functions are altered by physical changes. Cut out a section of the brain supposedly connected to a particular function, and that function is lost… thus the function was in that section of the brain.
This materialist theory suggests that the consciousness of a person resides within the brain. It is the sum total of its biochemistry, neuropathways, brain cells and the evolution of better performance though natural selection which results in this unique personality we call the individual. It also suggests that when someone dies, these functions die with them, and the individual no longer exists. Their information, personality, etc… are just gone… forever.
A more daring theory is the concept of nonlocality in consciousness.
This suggests that our mind resides somewhere outside of the body entirely, and it is the brain that simply receives information from this external source.
The argument of the mechanical/machine-like brain is met with logical arguments about electronic devices, like computers, televisions, or radios. If you remove a part from your computer, especially one involving a function like memory, or information processing, it won’t work. If you damage a television or radio, they might also stop working.
Does that mean that the TV show is gone, and doesn’t exist anymore… or that the music that was playing on the radio is lost forever? Of course not. Just because your computer is broken, doesn’t mean the Internet is just gone… just the thing you used to access it is.
Now let’s talk about the quantum world.
With scientific observations like the one described in the Double Slit Experiment, the world is starting to understand that consciousness influences the behavior of subatomic particles, which in turn make up everything in the universe. Observation causes the random wave function (or the entropic state of energy) to collapse from a random state to an ordered one. It goes from random wave behavior to particle behavior by introducing an observer. When the observer stops observing, the behavior returns to entropy again, becoming a random wave function all over again.
We are physical beings… no question about that. But the more I think of it, the less likely it seems that life could form from random energy and just happen to manifest a being as complex as us, capable of self-awareness and the ability to observe subatomic particles from randomness to order. To me, it seems more likely that the manifestation process must necessarily follow in the wake of the observer. So what consciousness observed the energy of these physical forms to cause the collapse of the wave?
So here is the question to ponder… are you a living body made of condensed energy that just happened to form with an anomaly of consciousness adrift in an endless universe of more physical stuff? If so, then it is one heck of a common anomaly to keep happening over and over again from one generation to the next. Or… is it possible that you are a consciousness that has caused random energy to collapse and become a physical body in order to observe this manifestation we call the universe? And that could mean that your own consciousness is the source of your own manifestation.
Tell us what you think about consciousness in the comments below.