3 More Reasons to Wonder More About Consciousness
1. Consciousness could be just a number of instincts or memories unfolding in time.
To keep it simple, Gazzaniga writes that consciousness “is the word we use to describe the subjective feeling of a number of instincts and/or memories playing out in time in an organism.” Whatever captures our attention at that moment is what exists in our consciousness. The rest of everything else, from the innumerable autonomic processes keeping our body in homeostasis to the innumerable processes keeping the planet in homeostasis, remains hidden. Via bigthink.com
2. Plants can perceive threats and have extra-sensory perception.
On February 2, 1966, Backster’s secretary purchased him both a rubber plant and a dracaena plant from a store going out of business down the street. Backster ended up working through the night, and in the wee hours of the morning had an idea to attach his dracaena plant to the polygraph to see if anything happened.
He was surprised to see the plant exhibit a jagged and ‘alive’ pattern of electrical activity. Then in a brief, passing moment, the plant showed a similar pattern which would normally appear when a human lies. He took this a step further and decided to threaten the plant’s well-being to see if another reaction took place.
First, he dipped the leaf in coffee to no reaction on the polygraph, then he thought of putting a flame to the leaf. In the same instant the polygraph went wild. Backster stated that no words were spoken, yet by merely thinking about what he was going to do the plant reacted. “It was as though the plant read my mind,” Backster wrote in his book, Primary Perception.
3. The chance of life existing in the Universe could be 1 in 10229 according to physicist Lee Smolin. Is the universe a conscious mind? Philip Goff has some very compelling ideas about it.
A number of scientists and philosophers of science have recently argued that this kind of ‘bottom-up’ picture of the Universe is outdated, and that contemporary physics suggests that in fact we live in a ‘top-down’ – or ‘holist’ – Universe, in which complex wholes are more fundamental than their parts. According to holism, the table in front of you does not derive its existence from the sub-atomic particles that compose it; rather, those sub-atomic particles derive their existence from the table. Ultimately, everything that exists derives its existence from the ultimate complex system: the Universe as a whole.Holism has a somewhat mystical association, in its commitment to a single unified whole being the ultimate reality. But there are strong scientific arguments in its favour. The American philosopher Jonathan Schaffer argues that the phenomenon of quantum entanglement is good evidence for holism. Entangled particles behave as a whole, even if they are separated by such large distances that it is impossible for any kind of signal to travel between them. According to Schaffer, we can make sense of this only if, in general, we are in a Universe in which complex systems are more fundamental than their parts.
If we combine holism with panpsychism, we get cosmopsychism: the view that the Universe is conscious, and that the consciousness of humans and animals is derived not from the consciousness of fundamental particles, but from the consciousness of the Universe itself. This is the view I ultimately defend in Consciousness and Fundamental Reality.