Deep Thoughts on Conciousness

For some reason last night I started thinking…. “how can I be thinking?” I mean, everything that I know from science basically says that we are controlled by our brains, and our brains are basically just big ass tangles of nerves and lobes throwing electrical impulses back and forth. How the hell can those be translated into what I think of as thought?

I had enough trouble when I saw a Discovery channel show on how we can see… light hits rods and cones, that gets cross-mojonated into these cells, which go and pop up to some other cells, which send electrical impulses back through to the optic nerve, which takes that info and gives it to the brain for processing…. I’m ok with the rods and cones part, but it’s just bizzare to think that what I see now (a cow-orker, a computer, a perl book, a couple of mugs, a huge guady poster about “excellence”) is nothing more than electrical impulses relayed into my grey matter.

If sight is bad enough how do you explain conciousness? Even if you go with the theological route and say that God has blessed us with a soul and that’s how we are greater than the whole of our combination of water and source material, that’s fine and dandy, but how does that translate into my brain, just behind my eyes, a mass of mushy grey goo (or so they say), inside a round(ish) melon of bone material (which I can feel with my fingers) can make it so that I can feel, and think, and understand.

Maybe I should just stop thinking, I’m sure that this is one of those areas that even the smart people haven’t figured out just yet.

10 Comments on “Deep Thoughts on Conciousness”

  1. The easy answer is that we can think because we needed to in order to evolve.
    In case that doesn’t make sense: Human physical evolution ground to a halt a few hundred thousand years ago. We’re not very different physiologically from the first homo sapiens sapiens. With the dawn of the homo genus, humans made a shift from evolving physically to evolving mentally. Though basic physical structures remained the same (or similar), there were great increases in brain size and complexity.
    It’s at this same time that you see an increased amount of complex tool making and using. Culture starts being born, as a result of more efficient techniques of hunting, food storage, and tool making appear. Since the human being experiences more to life than simply hunting and gathering, wandering from one meal to another, the mind starts focusing on other things. As specialized labour starts appearing, so does a greater interest in arts and religion. As more of these interests appeared, there was more to ‘think’ about — or, rather, focus on.
    To a certain extent, though, everything has consciousness. Dogs, cats, fish — they know who their familiars are, they can rationalize (to a certain extent) cause/effect relationships…. they just don’t worry about things like taxes, or what’s on TV tonight.

  2. Yea, I’m more worried about the physical “my conciousness is a mass of grey matter” issue 🙂
    What if we realize that we shouldn’t really be concious (like bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly) and everyone suddenly drops dead?

  3. Well, that would assume that we’re all interconnected somehow… 😉
    If you can stand it, pick up some Martin Heidegger. Though a Nazi, he does cover the issue of Being.

  4. I pinged you with an philosophical thought entry on the mind-body relationship. Hope it is of some use.

  5. Philosophical Thought: Mind and Body

    Arcterex asked a question today. He asked, how is it possible for mankind to be concious? How do eletrical impulses that are created in the brain translate into smell, sight, memory, mathematics and color? How can we possibly think? Saying that a god g…

  6. What is a soul is a good question.
    One that plagues me is, “how does the passing of a neurotransmitter to a receptor make me happy?” An extremely complex physical process creates an emotion. How wierd is that?

  7. “The easy answer is that we can think because we needed to in order to evolve.”
    I think that the opposite… You yourself touched on it Darren. We stopped physically evolving once we began to think… In fact we only begin to evolve even further when we allow machines and other people to think for us… We evolve into couch potatoes. Man, as soon as he began to use tools went down a path of slowing down his evolution… He would never grow gills because a machine helps him allows him to breath under water. He will never grow wings because a jet turbine lets him fly. He will never see in the dark because he invented the lightbulb. And one day he will forget how to imagine because he allows machines and others to create for him. Our children a fed a stream of sugar sweet thoughts from black, silver or tangerine coloured boxes. Their attention span decreases, and one day they will forget how to play and how to imagine… Is this the course of human evolution??? Maybe I am a little cynical this evening, kick me around the head if that is so! I need to be waken from this funk I’m in.