A bit of warning in advance, this is the dark metaphysics class, and we explore topics that many people might find uncomfortable. No offence is intended. I feel by discussing darker subjects we can dispel much of the sense of fear and mystery around these issues. That being said, today’s topic is Spirits of Madness…
How can we define consciousness? Anyone have a definition of consciousness?
Awareness of the world and your surroundings?
That which makes me, “me.”
Excellent. For the purpose of today’s discussion, I will define a spirit as an identifiable consciousness, regardless of whatever material form it may or may not display.
Let’s start with human consciousness. In general, we can all agree that human consciousness exists and that there are more instances of this consciousness than our own. In the “space” between any two conscious “minds”, we can identify entities (though they lack objective form) that seem to cross the boundary between say your own consciousness and mine. Ever notice something like anger can seem to take on a mind of its own?
Yes, it perpetuates itself. The angry mob. It’s contagious.
Just as we have living structures in our body that can exist as independent organisms from our body, we have facets of our consciousness that stem from a pre-existing pattern. Humanity was not the first species to experience say, aggression.
Genes? Well, beyond genes, as aggression patterns arise between species that seem to have very little genetic link, yet aggression between species is still readily recognizable as aggression.
Cats and dogs fight. The raptor attacks the snake. Even recognize aggression signals in each other, as different as they may be.
This is located in their amygdala? Well, even the structure of the amygdala differs notably between species. For some species, it is perhaps the biggest part of their brain. For others, it forms just a portion of their total brain. But all these patterns and the resulting behaviour reproduce themselves across species even to the point that plants exhibit fear and aggression responses even without a brain, as do jellyfish. Again, no brain.
Just as it’s been argued that a group of cells came together for mutual defence and survival benefit, which in time gave rise to complex multi-cellular organisms, it can be said that a group of conscious entities came together for perhaps the same purpose.
Conscious entities separate from these cells? Originally yes, perhaps not unlike the original mitochondria were separate from the cells they would in time come to inhabit.
How do we know? If you prefer a materialist definition, then if you accept that the events we call thought occur as an emergent outcome of various electro-chemical actions, then those actions were occurring before any entity such as us or even before anything other than a single cell existed. And arguable even before that, as the chemical potential and the potential structure of the DNA molecule existed before DNA itself actually formed.
You are saying that consciousness was separate from a body that contains it? Originally yes, or if you prefer let’s say the processes that came together to give rise to the emergent quality of consciousness as we know it existed prior to the bodies we ourselves exhibit.
In the form of electric energy? As far as any atom or molecule is possessed of electrical energy.
Their entity-hood doesn’t have to be accepted for this process to go forward. But I will offer that without the first entities there could arise no higher order entities. The potential had to have existed for the more complex form to arise from.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.