(article in 5 pages)
The hypothesis is a spin-off from "Along the Border of Insight". In the resulting sketch of a holistic view consciousness plays a central role. In spite of special difficulties when exploring consciousness some main features are distinguished. Consciousness is its content but also some sort of subtle "fabric" with some basic qualities common to humans and animals. Information makes potential consciousness conscious. Different types of information, sensations and thought, are led to consciousness through "channels" making conscious life possible, but also limiting it. There is no thinker apart from thought. Human consciousness has unused potentials. Potential consciousness was a quality of the genuine "empty" space. It has become conscious through an awakening process. What has come into being, has aspects of the original consciousness. It has come through a creative act. Non-locality is a quality of consciousness.
1. On the project from which the hypothesis
The project Alon the Border of Insight had two goals: To find out what frontier sciences "know" today (1996/97) in the following areas:
the human mind and brain,
the human body,
the so-called paranormal phenomena,
the origin of life and the development of the species,
the physical world from macro- to microcosmos,
and to find out if new insight could be achieved if artificial professional divisions were disregarded while trying to see all the information simultaneously. In fact, to some extent this seemed to be possible. The project came out with a sketch of a more holistic view of human live and the universe. In this sketch, where many "pieces" fall into their places, consciousness plays a central role. The following hypothesis deals with the nature of consciousness and its place in existence.
2. Three difficulties
One has to overcome three difficulties when consciousness shall be explored and the results communicated. Normally there is a distance between the scientist's mind and the object to be investigated. As consciousness is not an object that can be explored from the outside, the remaining possibility is that the scientist's consciousness explores itself. Consequently it will not be possible to measure and register "objectively".
Secondly, we in our culture are so little aware of our own psyche that communication on consciousness becomes difficult. And our third difficulty is a consquence of this fact: We have not even a realistic and generally accepted set of notions. On our way through the text we will therefore have to define some words.
3. The main features of the hypothesis
Consciousness is, psychologically, its content. If the content could be removed completely, consciousness would be unconscious or potential. This state is actual in dreamless sleep.
The content of consciousness consists of different sorts of impressions or information, such as sensations from the outside world or from the body. Further examples are emotions, like anxiety, loneliness etc. as well as the stream of thoughts from the brain being projected into consciousness. Dependent on how the content is composed, one can talk about different states of consciousness.
Researchers do not agree on whether consciousness is a subtle "fabric" or only a result from chemical-physical processes in the brain. None of these views has been proved or, as I see it, well reasoned. The resulting holistic view in the mentioned book presupposes however, that consciousness is a subtle "fabric". This is an assumption in the hypothesis sketched here.
"Conscious psyche" is the notion used for
the potential consciousness, i.e. the subtle fabric, with its
content which has made the potential consciousness conscious.
If the content is common, we are talking about everyday consciousness.
For consciousness to get a content, the brain has to do a large and complex work on the unconscious level with regard to sensation, thought and emotions. We call the totality of these processes and the stored impressions and energies in the brain serving these processes, the "unconscious psyche".
The channel statement
The different impressions are conveyed to consciousness through "channels". Some of them are easily seen: Images come through the eyes and the visual nerves a.s.o. We know the beginning of the channels. But where and how they "empty" their information into consciousness is a riddle. But what we know should be sufficient to assume this to be a realistic view, even if all channels and all of their aspects are not known. This is the reason why the channel statement above is part of the hypothesis.
The mirror analogy
We can make a more concrete image of this through an analogy, where the mirror represents consciousness. In the way the mirror's image, that is the mirror's content, makes the mirror a mirror, in the same way makes the content the potential consciousness conscious. This is also the case if the content is gradually being redused. However, in total darkness the mirror ceases to be a mirror. It is in the state of "dreamless sleep". But the physical mirror is still there. It is a "potential mirror" in the same way as consciousness is potential when the content has disappeared. In the same way that the mirror keeps its ability to "act" when light falls upon it again, the potential consciousness keeps its ability to become conscious again when information is conveyed to it through a suitable channel.
Statements on qualities of consciousness
Thus, one of the qualities of the potential consciousness is that information makes it conscious. The state of being conscious depends on information. Has consciousness other qualities as well? I propose is has. Consciousness seems to undertake some sort of "evaluation" of the received impressions. Due to this quality consciousness seems to be able to destinguish between types of impressions such as colors. And it seems to classify impressions in a scale of pain - neutral - pleasure. This seems to be a perseptual quality of consciousness itself. In addition consciousness seems to be able to put itself into different states of awareness. If one goes deeper into it, it seems to be possible to distinguish additional qualities, such as some sort of intelligence: The perceptual quality of consciousness implies, in a word, to "see" what is as it is. That is a sort of intelligence where thought is absent. And I propose further that it seems possible to distinguish a kind of will, of creativity and even individuality apart from the individuality with which thought identifies itself.
Consciousness and thought
It is clear that consciousness is central in life. Without consciousness, there would of course be no conscious life. Our life is the flowing content of consciousness. And the conscious "I" is mainly the result of what is being projected into consciousness through the internal channels for thoughts and feelings. This implies that there is no thinker apart from thought, only a thinking process in the brain making thoughts. Modern brain research and introspective observation agree on this central point. The word "I" is only a word similar to other words used to formulate thoughts. Anyone can come upon this through passive awareness and observation of one's own reactions.
Let us dwell on this point because it is a broad view among people in the West that there is a thinker in you and me apart from thought; a thinker being able to think thoughts more or less "freely". Consequently many people mean that the existence of consciousness depends on the ability to think. However, a person does not loose consciousness if the thinking process ceases. Consciousness may well be filled up with the impressions from the other channels. The problem is that so many people live under the pressure of the thinking process that they hardly know states where thought has come to an end by itself. Due to the lack of knowledge of such states of consciousness, we create unrealistic views.
Consciousness in animals and elsewhere in nature
Hence, we propose that animals may have consciousness allthough they are unable to think; they can feel pleasure, pain and more neutral feelings. It is due time to change common opinion about animal's consciousness, as this opinion strongly influences how we treat animals. Obviously, there are many differences between the human psyche and the psyche of animals. The most important one may be that the lower thinking capacity is partly compensated by programs in the animals' brains. We say, however, that to the extent animals have sensing capacity, they also have consciousness, including consciousness of pain and pleasure.
This leads us to the question where consciousness can be found
elsewhere in nature, and how such phenomena correspond with the
present hypothesis? Life on earth has developed from primitive
to more and more advanced forms. This suggests that the same
type of consciousness is found all over the place. What has
been changed throughout the development process is the information
that makes (the potential) consciousness conscious: Which types
of senses that have been available and how advanced they are,
and the capacity of the brain to think and feel. With other words:
Which channels that are furnishing information to the animals'
consciousness and what types of information it is.
Evolution has taken place gradually or in small steps. It is therefore hard to say at what stage the process of consciousness was initiated. Perhaps has it no beginning at all? Perhaps is a nearly sleeping consciousness actual even in the most primitive forms of life? This would correspond with what we indicated before, that consciousness can be sleeping with the possibility of becoming "fully" awake gradually. In addition some physicists say that some sort of rudimentary consciousness may be found even in matter. We cannot go into this here, but this sort of thinking has to do with the behavior of matter in the superconductive state.
It is interesting that some animals have senses that humans
have not. Some animals have for instance the ability to "see"
magnetic fields. In our view we would say that a new type of channel
leads a new type of information to the same consciousness.
This makes a new aspect of the potential consciousness conscious.
This means that consciousness seams to be limited by the number
and types of channels leading impressions to it. If this is so,
it would mean that consiousness in humans (and animals) may have
unused potentials for conscious experience that goes far
beyond common states of consciousness. This may open up for a
better understanding of some so-called paranormal phenomena: Some
humans and perhaps some animals may have "paranormal"
channels leading "paranormal" information to consciousness.
Further investigation suggests that there is a large number of possible states of consciousness. More than 15 different states of consciousness have been accounted for in terms of the present hypothesis.
Information and consciousness
It is striking that information and consciousness work together on many levels and in many variants. Information makes potential consciousness conscious, and consciousness makes stored information from the unconscious psyche conscious. This duality can (eventually) be found in information fields in matter, in living organisms of many kinds and perhaps even in the universe.
Consciousness and space
A central question arises to those who are conserned with the nature of consciousness: Has consciousness come into being, or is consciousness original in the sense of being genuine? Something must have been original. In particular: Has matter and energy generated consciousness and intelligence, or has consciousness with its perseptual intelligence generated matter? Consciousness and intelligence is part of the universe; that is generally understood because the human being is part of the universe. The big bang theory implies that matter has a beginning, and can therefore not be genuin.
Many researchers have claimed that matter and energy have generated consciousness, even if no reason has been given. The universe must have developed from the origin and to the actual state, and it is still developing. No one denies that. The universe is defined so that nothing can influence it from the outside. This means that the development always has been a self-developing process, and so it still must be. It is hard to think of a self-developing prosess without at least the following qualities: A certain form of energy must be present; without energy, no movement, no change, no development. And the origin must at least have two aspects to start and continue a self-developing process, two aspects influencing each other. Only a duality (or more than two aspects) seems to be able to execute such a process. Can we find such a duality?
According to these general considerations our hypothesis suggests
the following description: The genuine "empty" space
was, in accordance with the view of modern cosmology, not without
qualities. We say that potential consciousness was a quality
of this space, and that potential consciousness was a sort
of "zero-point" energy. This zero-point energy
influenced its other aspect, the potential consciousness so that
an extreamly slow awakening process started. The start
may have occured by chance when the energy created some sort of
information. Thus, the potential consciousness became a tiny little
bit conscious. This may have summerized slowly over huge emounts
of some sort of time until the slowly awakening consciousness
had become so conscious that it could create new information by
itself. From that moment the awakening prosess may have been accelerating.
The complementarity of potential consciousness and information had the ability to influence each other in a nearly infinite slow process that created more awakening and more information. The process accelerated. It was and is irreversible. Perhaps is it still going on, eventually with redused speed, if there is a limit to being awake, that the genuine consciousness is approaching asymtotically? On the other hand one can think of a developing process without end, where new impressions can enlarge consciousness that creates new impressions and so on. We do not know of other dualities with such a developing potential.
The creative act
So, what may have happened is that the awakening consciousness became aware of itself and its qualities. Based on what we know about human consciousness, these qualities must have had an enormus potential for insight and creativity and some sort of desire to use its abilities. At the beginning of the creative act, before the material universe had come into being, one could therefor say, as a modern version of an old, well known statement: At the beginning was information and information was with consciousness and information was consiousness. Here there may be a possible connection between scientific and religious imagination.
As nothing can create something entirely transcendent to its own nature, one may say that all that came and comes out of the creative act must have some aspects of the genuine consciousness. This implies that even matter may have an aspect of consciousness and, as a consequence, that matter may be influenced by consciousness "from the inside", as some paranormal phenomena may indicate.
Two special phenomena
Let us consider two phenomena in the light of the hypothesis. First: The phenomenon called "Being one with universal consciousness". If the phenomenon is "objectively" real, not only subjectively, psychologically, it involves the opening of unknown channels against the original consciousness. Thus, the human consciousness comes in direct contact with aspects of its origin. The separated and individualized "drop" of human consciousness plunges temporarily into the great ocean of informed consciousness.
"Non-locality" is an established notion in modern
physics. Non-locality implies that there are some sort of connection
between phenomena independent of distance. And through the more
speculative notion of wormholes one may "escape" from
the universe and emerge on another remote place in the universe
without the use of time. Has consciousness something to do with
these phenomena? Some sort of ability to be everywhere or anywhere
at the same time seems to be common to consciousness and these
phenomena, and that may indicate some sort of relationship. Is
non-locality a quality of consciousness, and is non-locality the
"tecnical solution" of the mirror-like aspect of consciousness?
I propose that it is, and as a consequence one might (non-paradoxically)
say that consiousness is the localization of non-locality.
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