What is Consciousness: Definition and 232 Discussions

Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial, being "at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives". Perhaps the only widely agreed notion about the topic is the intuition that it exists. Opinions differ about what exactly needs to be studied and explained as consciousness. Sometimes, it is synonymous with the mind, and at other times, an aspect of it. In the past, it was one's "inner life", the world of introspection, of private thought, imagination and volition. Today, it often includes some kind of experience, cognition, feeling or perception. It may be awareness, awareness of awareness, or self-awareness. There might be different levels or orders of consciousness, or different kinds of consciousness, or just one kind with different features. Other questions include whether only humans are conscious, all animals, or even the whole universe. The disparate range of research, notions and speculations raises doubts about whether the right questions are being asked.Examples of the range of descriptions, definitions or explanations are: simple wakefulness, one's sense of selfhood or soul explored by "looking within"; being a metaphorical "stream" of contents, or being a mental state, mental event or mental process of the brain; having phanera or qualia and subjectivity; being the 'something that it is like' to 'have' or 'be' it; being the "inner theatre" or the executive control system of the mind.

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  1. jedishrfu

    Biggest Breakthroughs in Biology and Neuroscience in 2023

    Covers: - An investigation of consciousness - Microbiomes evolve with us - How life keeps time
  2. S

    I Exploring Wave Function Collapse: The Role of Conscious Observation

    Do scientists still entertain the idea that wave function collapse requires a conscious observer? Is it possible? Why/not?
  3. R

    Roger Penrose´s OR theory, Consiousness is a QM phenomenon?

    I read a summary about the OR theory by Penrose, the problem is; why would QM has anything to do with consiousness? It seems now that when scientists cant explain something, the say its a QM phenomenon. QM theory has replaced philosophy and religion. Its a little more scientific so they don have...
  4. H

    B Can we all agree "consciousness" is not required to collapse wave function?

    I see this written or talked about so often. Pop-sci for sure. But, whatever the wave function is, and whatever might collapse it, can we agree consciousness is not required to collapse it? I.E., the moon was there before "conscious" beings, on this planet or elsewhere, viewed it? Is at...
  5. C

    Describing consciousness mathematically

    I was discussing consciousness with my brother, and I was wondering if you can mathematically describe it; when something becomes known it goes from the state of unknown to known, there is a knower; when the knower knows he knows, is that not awareness? There seems to be a language in math for...
  6. Emmanuel Pil

    A Request for a review of a paper on consciousness creating reality.

    The paper I refer to, I found on the Big Think blog titled "Is human consciousness creating reality? And here is the actual link to the paper. Unfortunately, this paper is too technical for me, hence the request for a review for such a big claim.
  7. J

    I Many-worlds implies computers are not conscious?

    Consider the following thought-experiment in the many-worlds interpretation. Suppose that I have a reversible conscious observer AI and a particle with +1/2 spin in the z direction. Next the observer measures the spin in the x-direction and therefore spits into a version that measures +1/2 and...
  8. jk22

    Exploring the Relationship Between Consciousness and Gravity During Sleep

    Since I suppose we all sleep sometimes, how can it be that during it we don't feel gravity for example (no noise no light) ? Could it be that all those phenomena are state of mind dependent, kind of construct of the brain ? Could this be linked to ideas of general relativity that gravity...
  9. R

    I Consciousness and quantum mechanics

    Reading book, “God? Very Probable”. The author quotes Wigners comments in his book, “Remarks on the Mind- Body Question” 169, 171, 173. “The very study of the external world led to the conclusion that the content of consciousness is an ultimate reality. Given the ultimate priority of...
  10. Immortal68

    B What is Consciousness? How does it affect our Physical Universe?

    Sure it seems like an impossible feat but I need to gain a bit more depth, every little helps. I've been trying to analyse different things in life. Behaviours of other individuals', my own behaviour, our interaction with other conscious individuals, e.t.c. Essentially I've just been trying to...
  11. SEYED2001

    A How effective can QM be to understand the mind and/or consciousness?

    I am very interested in the philosophy and science of the mind, as well as consciousness in neuroscience. I am also very interested in QM. Now, I wonder how QM can be potentially connected to my two previous interests on the consciousness and mind. I would also appreciate any reference to...
  12. S

    A What is von Neumann's branching of possible worlds?

    In the Many Worlds Interpretation's wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation), it says, at the "Reception" part: "(...) On the other hand, the same derogatory qualification "many words" is often applied to MWI by its critics, who see it as a word game which...
  13. AceHigh

    How Does Advanced Knowledge in Science Help Predict Future Innovations?

    BS EE and lifelong science lover. Love "predicting" things but its really just knowing science advances first. I'm curious about everything. Curiosity killed Schrodinger's cat.
  14. J

    I Would this experiment disprove that consciousness causes collapse?

    A double slit experiment, is taking place. There are detectors, placed inside both of the slits. On the first run if a particle travels through one of the slits, the detector registers, that it has detected a particle, but doesn't specify which slit it has traveled through(to the conscious...
  15. Suppaman

    What I would like to discuss is, "who is the dreamer?"

    Consciousness. I do not see any specific places here dedicated to the mind so that I will ask my question here. As I sit here typing I am using my mind, and I can communicate by talking or writing, I am connected to the world. This morning I awoke from another dream. It was complicated, as real...
  16. J

    I Would this experiment prove consciousness causes collapse

    Firstly i would like to say that i am not advocating the need for a conscious observer to collapse the wave function but i just want to know whether the methodology behind this experiment would prove or disprove this idea. The experiment would be similar to the quantum eraser experiment except...
  17. Buckethead

    B Justification for emergent anything

    Maybe not today, but eventually physics will have to come face to face with the hard question of consciousness. Currently, the prevailing idea is that given enough complexity, an AI machine will attain consciousness. Popular speakers such as Daniel Dennett firmly believe that consciousness is...
  18. Anne Ross

    A Quantum electrodynamics and the brain

    Susan Pocket claims that part of the electromagnetic field of the brain is consciousness and that conscious qualities such as a red car are spatially patterned electromagnetic fields. She also claims that the quantum spatial scale is irrelevant. Intuitively it seems to me Quantum electrodynamics...
  19. Anne Ross

    Hi I’m Anne and I’m interested in the physics of the brain

    I am interested in consciousness and it’s material basis - in the brain, we presume! I’m interested in whether or not part of the electromagnetic field of the brain is consciousness as claimed by Susan Pocket and various others. She claims that the conscious qualities we see such as a red car...
  20. D

    I Is consciousness necessary to collapse the wave function?

    I would like to get your ideas on what Australian professor at ANU David Chalmers' proposes that consciousness arises out of certain configurations of complex states (Integrated information theory) and then the existence of that consciousness collapses the wave function. Specifically, why isn't...
  21. Kenneth Boon Faker

    B Subatomic particles and the observer

    I have read that when an electron is observed, it behaves differently to when it is not being observed. Could someone please expand on this, or indeed correct me. In what way does an observed particle behave differently to a particle that isn't being observed by somebody's consciousness?
  22. B

    I Concerning concioussnes and the double slit experiment.

    Hello there, I have a question about the double-slit experiment and conscioussnes. Excuse me if I don't formulate things right and might come over as a total fool for asking this (English is not my native language and i don't study physics). I just saw this video: <Moderator's note: link...
  23. C

    Can consciousness be recreated after death? A philosophical exploration.

    If I am my brain and my brain makes me consciouss, then if i die and supposedly someone will make the EXACT copy of me with my brain, then logically the copy should be ME and i should be consciouss again. What do you think?
  24. T

    I Regarding consciousness causing wavefunction collapse

    What are the experiments that disprove the idea that consciousness causes wavefunction collapse?
  25. Gary Smith

    I Mainstream quantum physics and consciousness

    What does mainstream quantum physics currently say about consciousness?
  26. S

    B Relativity’s Effect on Consciousness

    So there will be a few hypothetical in the original story here, but in the end ill wrap it up with what I believe are facts. My question, how does Einstien’s theory of relativity interact with consciousness? Let’s say I have a twin, he becomes a farmer and I become an astronaut. I go to space...
  27. PetSounds

    GEB: Exploring Douglas R. Hofstadter's Strange Loops

    Lately, I've been hooked on Douglas R. Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach. In it, he discusses the idea of "strange loops"—often apparent logical paradoxes—and argues that they are the key to understanding consciousness. He includes witty dialogues, as well as examples of "strange loops" in...
  28. J

    B Do particles "care" about consciousness or simply the data

    I'm curious if there have been any variations to the double slit that specifically looked at whether the particles behavior was determined by the computer keeping the data or if a consious person was there to see it. For example what I had in mind was having an isolated room where the computer...
  29. L

    B Why did famous people think consciousness causes collapse?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann%E2%80%93Wigner_interpretation also schrodinger believed it, and maybe bohr too? this is such a stupid concept, it's obviously false. but clearly i must be missing out on something, people like them aren't going to believe in things that's "obviously...
  30. Viopia

    B Double slit experiment -- consciousness and information

    I am not a physicist but I am interested in the double slit experiment and would like a definitive answer, from a physicist, to my question as follows:. If the which path is just detected by a detector, without it flashing and bleeping at the same time, and without the detections being recorded...
  31. Pyrus

    I Quantum Physicists Examine Orch Theory and Consciousness

    Orch theory explains consiousness of human brain as a quantum related phenomenon. These quantum processes occur in microtubules. But at this temperature quantum computation is not possible. So what is the perspective of quantum physicists on this theory.
  32. secur

    I No Special Reason for Thinking Consciousness Special in QM

    There's no question that MWI is an important part of QM, whether we agree with it or not. And consciousness is essential for MWI, it can't be defined without it. For instance, Stanford Encyclopedia https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-manyworlds/#2.2 says: ***********************************...
  33. I

    Is there a link between consciousness and emotional depth?

    Is there a connection between consciousness and emotions? Imagine humans are a class 5 conscious animal and have the most complex emotions. An elephant or a gorilla may be a class 4 conscious animal, a dog a class 3 etc. I would certainly think a gorilla possesses a deeper consciousness than a...
  34. Giulio Prisco

    A Where does Von Neumann say that consciousness causes collapse

    It's often claimed that in Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Von Neumann concluded that it's the observer's consciousness that collapses the wavefunction (Process 1). But I am reading Chapter 6 of the book (both original and translation) word by word, and I don't find this...
  35. durant35

    I Quantum Darwinism and Consciousness (?)

    I've red the paper from the father of decoherence W. Zurek called "Quantum Darwinism, Classical Reality, and the Randomness of Quantum Jumps" In his conclusion he mentions this "Quantum Darwinism shows why only such redundantly recorded pointer states are accessible to observers|it can account...
  36. victorhugo

    Psychoactive drugs for "expansion of consciousness"

    Before anything, I'd just like to say I do not use nor promote the use of any drugs. I've experimented with cannabis a couple of years ago but quickly stopped when my senior years approached. I am now doing very well in my last years of school, especially in sciences. I am however struggling...
  37. OmneBonum

    Seriously Lapsed Sociologist turned Math and Physics Fanboy

    If I had a choice between meeting the Dalai Lama and meeting Andrew Wiles, I would choose the latter. So, here I am. I study math and physics basically as a hobby. I just want to know and understand more about reality, especially since discovering that reality is all there is! And it's...
  38. N

    Brain Consciousness: Exploring States of Awareness

    How many states of awareness can the brain be in? For example awake and conscious, asleep and unconscious, sub conscious. Are there any other states? Is there a point where the brain is in a state of all of them? And finally when a person is day dreaming is he both conscious and unconscious...
  39. Thinkor

    What are prefrontal pyramidal neurons doing?

    I've been reading up on neurology lately and I'm mystified by pyramidal neurons. The pyramidal neurons in the prefrontal cortex, for example, have maybe 20,000 inputs through their dendritic trees and 1 output through the axon. The output is an action potential that always has the same...
  40. DiracPool

    Eyewitness Testimony: Autonoetic Consciousness Validity & Procedures

    I Just got asked to review a paper on autonoetic consciousness in relation to it's validity in eyewitness testimony for a major international science journal. They want me to evaluate the procedures used to "prep" witnesses for eyewitness testimony (in terms of the paper). Even though the...
  41. bremsstrahlung

    A Consciousness and the Wigner's friend problem

    Consciousness and the Wigner's friend problem by Bernard d’Espagnat. Information and fundamental elements of the structure of quantum theory by Caslav Brukner and Anton Zeilinger So Quantum Mechanics is nothing but footnotes to Plato. Is Philosophy dead?
  42. Graeme M

    Consciousness and the Attention Schema Theory - Meaningful?

    I am currently reading Jesse Prinz's "The Conscious Brain". I am only about 75 pages into it so haven't yet covered enough ground to fully understand what he's proposing, but his idea is termed the Attended Intermediate-level Representation theory. Prinz notes that evidence to date shows that...
  43. F

    Immortality: Stop DNA Aging or Swapping Consciousness?

    I know there are similar threads regarding the topics above, but which method do you think is more achievable within the next decade? With the current ways of supercomputer and computing in decoding DNA as well as brain mapping, it might be a possible reality in the future.
  44. C

    Programs Should I Major or Minor in Physics if I'm Already a Junior Psychology Major?

    I am about to be a junior Psychology major but I'm realizing my calling is more in quantum/astrophysics, though truly I would want to study consciousness' effect on quantum mechanics. My question is since I'm already half way though a Psych BA, should I continue this and minor in Physics as...
  45. N

    Is there a scientific consensus on what "consciousness" is?

    Or is there scientific consensus on whether or not "consciousness" actually exists at all? This article prompted the question... "Many theories have been proposed, but none has passed scientific muster. I believe a major change in our perspective on consciousness may be necessary..."...
  46. Pete Hammand

    QM & Consciousness: Has Theory Been Disproven?

    Just curious, but has this theory been completely disproven? Is it possible to even debate that this is the case? It seems to me that some of the founders of QM such as Heisenberg, Pauli, and even Max Planck toyed with this idea and considered it a possibility. Why is it not any more? I don't...
  47. logico

    Can randomness and determinism coexist?

    Are fundamental randomness and fundamental determinism inconsistent? Two such different mechanisms would imply a kind of dualism. (Does even the defeatist retreat into Many Worlds avoid this problem - if it is a problem.)
  48. W

    The Nature of Existence: A Student's Perspective

    I'm a student trying to understand the nature of things. My existence seems rather implausible to me but as best I can tell I am here and delighted to be. I look forward to being a member of this community. Thank you for the opportunity.
  49. Rajkovic

    Consciousness The Ultimate Reality

    Why does some physicists say that consciousness is the "Ultimate reality"? which experiment affirm it? Some like 'Tom Campbell' uses Data Eraser Experiment as proof, and quotes from "Max Planck, Bohr, Heisenberg, etc.. as references SOURCE: Is it true? What is "consciousness", anyway?
  50. B

    Explain delayed choice quantum eraser without consciousness

    I'm trying to understand the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment without consciousness. As I understand it, photons will either interfere or not depending on whether or not "which-path" information is randomly hidden and rendered unkowable to the experimenter. That is, rather the by any...