Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

natsu's picture

Some more thoughts on consciousness

I'm glad to see that several people have continued to explore the first question that I posed during my presentation: Do we have to be able to define consciousness before we can study it scientifically?  As I mentioned, I think this is a really interesting question to think about, especially because a lot of the topics that we explored in our seminar this semester (e.g. diversity, love and pain) are broad and mysterious.  Yet, they are attracting an increasing number of scientists these days.  My personal answer to the question is no.  While it really was difficult to even discuss these topics without concrete definitions, I think that studying them scientifically will help us clarify a lot of questions and lead us to a better definition.  Of course, whether we really want to agree on single definitions for these topics is another question...


Something that really intrigued me during our discussion is the idea of the unconscious mind state and its benefits.  We tend to think of consciousness being associated with focus and attention which help us maximize our performance.  Yet, when we think of a pleasant mind state it seems like most people will imagine a state that is nearly unconscious.  Moreover, it is interesting to think that unconscious learning might actually be better than conscious learning.  I have to admit that that is how I gained my ability to learn new languages - I always used to do my homework while listening to English music on the radio and I firmly believe that this is how my ears got trained to an extent that now I am able to pick up on new languages really easily. 


The discussions above about consciousness after death are really interesting too.  It reminded me of a time when I fainted a few years ago.  I was visiting a museum with my family and I clearly remember hearing my grandparents making a huge fuss and getting an emergency wheel chair to wheel me outside.  It was really strange how I could hear everything they were saying but all I could see was this grey-blackness moving around and I could not feel anything at all.



To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
1 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.