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Jenna's picture

This discussion on

This discussion on consciousness has been very interesting, particularly our attempts to come to an agreement about a definition for it.  Like someone mentioned before I believe that consciousness is only in the present and that memory is not a requirement for consciousness.  One reason I believe this is that I think there are certain ethical problems if we define memory as an essential component for consciousness.  For example, if during surgery a paralytic was used without any analgesic and then a drug was given to make the person forget the pain would that be acceptable since the person would not remember the pain?  I would argue that the fact that they could experience the pain at the time is enough to say they were conscious and it is important to recognize that.  Although the person later would never be conscious of the memory of that pain they would have still suffered in the moment.  I also think that the example given in class of the brain as a storage bin with only a certain amount of space is a good example of why we may not remember all our conscious moments.


I also thought the discussion of conscious vs. unconscious learning was intriguing.  I definitely know of times when I feel I learn better somewhat unconsciously.  One example which particularly sticks out is reading for certain classes.  Right now I am taking Classical Mythology and I always remember the stories better if I don’t highlight them and concentrate on the exact words but read them somewhat unconsciously and focus on the actions instead.  However, if I was reading a science textbook the same way and it lacked a central story I would probably read the page but not really absorb anything.  Therefore, I think that unconscious learning can be important and helpful in some situations, but conscious attention is essential for other tasks.  


Finally, I think the idea of consciousness after death is important because it suggests that there is more to consciousness than just a network of neurons.  If this is true and there is not a tangible place or thing to look at when studying consciousness, how can we ever define and better understand it?


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