Consciousness Definition and 21 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. 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...
  2. 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...
  3. S

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

    In the Many Worlds Interpretation's wikipedia article (, 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...
  4. 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...
  5. 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...
  6. 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...
  7. 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...
  8. 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...
  9. 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...
  10. 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?
  11. 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...
  12. C

    Consciousness recreation

    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?
  13. Gary Smith

    I Mainstream quantum physics and consciousness

    What does mainstream quantum physics currently say about consciousness?
  14. 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...
  15. PetSounds

    Gödel, Escher, Bach

    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...
  16. L

    B Why did famous people think consciousness causes collapse? 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...
  17. 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...
  18. 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...
  19. 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.
  20. C

    Programs To major or minor in Physics

    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...
  21. 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..."...