I’ve always found it mysterious how consciousness can arise from something as physical as our brain, and the sensation of being able to live and think in the moment, while still being conscious of all of this at the same time. Instead of natural selection basically designing our bodies in a machine-like fashion which simply responds to different stimuli based on a series of chemical reactions, much like a plants do, we are gifted with the ability to hold conscious thought, for reasons unknown to myself.
The trouble neuroscientists have with scientifically explaining consciousness today, is the fact that there will always be a very physical and biological way of stating where consciousness occurs inside the brain and what specific neurons attribute to what specific tools of conscious thought inside the mind. However, this fails to outline how consciousness actually occurs, and why it is we are thinking and feeling the way we are at this very moment. In my opinion, at least just for the near future, there will always be that disconnect between scientifically explaining why we humans hold consciousness from a biological perspective, as opposed to explaining consciousness itself, and the feeling of being conscious.
Although consciousness, and how it is derived (putting it very simply) from a bunch of neurons sending electrical signals between one and other, is also quite mystical. It does not seem possible for this phenomenon to be able to occur, at least to the uneducated observer such as myself. It leads me to reflect on the ‘human zombie idea’, an idea which I have been going over for some time. Only recently, while tuning in to the ‘Waking Up with Sam Harris’ podcast had i really heard a name for it. While listening to Episode 34 – ‘The Light of the Mind’, Sam and philosopher David Chalmers talk about the idea where everybody else, apart from yourself of course, are not actually conscious beings themselves, as they are merely pre-programmed ‘zombies’ which give responses that mimic a conscious human being. Although this concept seems like a very radical idea, there is no way to actually prove this theory wrong, bringing me back to my point within the last paragraph. We know we are conscious ourselves, however that is as far as we will get. For all I know, it is possible that no one else is actually reading this post, or at least consciously reading and understanding logically what these characters mean.
This concept really reminds me of the movie ‘The Truman Show’, in that it suggests the world is made for and revolves around us, as we are the only conscious beings in existence. Then begs the question, what happens when our life as the only conscious being comes to an end?. Do all other human beings continue to pro-create and live on unconsciously like artificially intelligent robots? This concept could result in many unanswered questions, however my main goal was to emphasize on how it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove this theory wrong. We can always explain the brain in terms of physical brain matter, however it is much more difficult to scientifically define and analyse consciousness itself.
Sam Harris, ‘Waking Up with Sam Harris’, Episode 34 – ‘The Light of the Mind’