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Felicia's picture


The definition issue is surely what frustrates me the most, but I can’t seem to figure out if I even think it’s terribly necessary to have one specific definition for all the “types” of consciousness we were talking about. It seems to me that consciousness may be a broad term for this translation from biology into behavior, and we can work definitions out from there. Maybe we could make a distinction between “attentive consciousness” and “inattentive consciousness”, and with that I think we can talk about why the perception of time and the role of memories is different in each of those. I’m finding it hard to separate awareness from consciousness, though it seems possible (maybe because I’m not aware of the things I’m not aware of doing?). I’m wondering, too, about the mind/body experience here and what role it plays in consciousness (and indeed our definition of consciousness). For example, I’m chewing gum right now, and every once in a while I’ll blow a bubble, and it’s not something I’m aware of doing most of the time, because my attention is placed on writing. It’s really interesting to think that “I” am not conscious of doing something, but my body is.


I also have a problem saying that someone who is “inattentively unconsciously” driving a car is unconscious. I think, rather, that there is a conscious being unconsciously doing a task. I’m not sure where the line is for a person being considered conscious/unconscious, but I think it has something to do with proper function of the body, so that a person with a properly functioning body is inherently conscious. Again, I think we could also go into more depth about what constitutes a properly functioning body. Does this mean that a rat with a properly functioning body is conscious? Sure, why not? I got the sense in class that we were hesitant to apply conscious to other beings (aside from pets, which is something else altogether) because it somehow invalidates the importance of our consciousness, but I don’t see why there aren’t levels and depths as we talked a little bit about. The fact that other organisms may be conscious – and I think that they definitely are – doesn’t make or ours less important. Or does it? Would applying our definition of consiousness to animals change the way we view animal morality and our use of animals in science?


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