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Can Human Consciousness Fundamentally Change?

  1. Dec 23, 2004 #1
    Since the evolution of homo sapiens it appears that there have been some shifts in human consciousness. There have been shifts from a consciousness of hunting and gathering to the eventual consciousness that gave rise to agricultural societies. From this we have rise to our present industrial societies. Are these examples of shifts in consciousness? With this development there has been increased emphasis on accumulation and the protection of that which has been accumulated. This, of course, has resulted in immense imbalances and has lead to all sorts of problems. Rise in accumulation has not sated insecurity but has increased fear and instability. Humans seem to have difficulty in knowing when enough is enough. Can human consciousness change in a way to avert the problems cause by over accumulation? Can this change happen fast enough to avert environmental catastrophe?
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  3. Dec 23, 2004 #2
    I think that there has been a change in human knowledge, but I dont quite understand what you mean by conciousness. There has definitely not been a change in human nature, I mean we still hunt, we still have agriculture, but humans strive for efficiency, and with technology we have been able to become more efficient in doing these things. So if by conciousness you mean knowledge, then absolutely, human knowledge can change: it grows every day. If by conciousness you mean essence, the essence of a human being can never change.
  4. Dec 23, 2004 #3


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    This shift of cultural behavioral tendencies might qualify as a shift of consciousness in the sense of the word "consciousness" as it is sometimes used by anthropologists (group consciousness), but it isn't relevant to the kind of consciousness discussed in this forum. You might want to pose this question in the Social Sciences forum.
  5. Dec 23, 2004 #4
    What's shifted is the level of conscious thought given to consciousness.

    The rising intellect gained by the general populace when hereditary/cultural streams of consciousness merge can account for a lot of this. Communication is the catalyst for change/shifts
  6. Dec 26, 2004 #5
    Consciousness is somewhat tricky to define. I am using it to mean awareness or perception in the present. Knowledge has to do with the accumulation of skills or systems of understanding based on personal experience or experience handed down by others. Consciousness is now. Knowledge is from memory and is applied to the present. As you mentioned, there have been tremendous changes due to technological developments. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be the corresponding change in human wisdom to meet the challenges of environmental degradation and increasingly destructive warfare. I am not sure what you mean by "the essence of a human being" can never change. Are you saying that this is just "human nature" and that things can only get worst? Or perhaps you are saying something altogether different?
  7. Dec 26, 2004 #6
    I wish to continue posing the question here. This question is meant for those who understand that science exist in a social context and also see the problems of approaching the usual social ills with the old compartmental and fragmented mentality.

    Yes, I agree that communication is key. The fact that more people are considering consciousness as worthy of studying is encouraging. Please explain to me what you mean by "emerging streams of consciousness"? Sounds interesting.
  8. Jan 3, 2005 #7
    Change on this level requires a very long time. If you consider (as loseyourname pointed out) it a change in group consciousness, then it would take not only a new point of view, idea, etc to emerge, but also the will and energy of group consciousness to change tradition.

    When I first saw your post, I thought of consciousness in biological anthropology terms. So far as I know, theories about the change in the primate brain from chimpanzees to humans (roughly, with intermediates, etc) was sparked by a change in behavior and thus an opportunity for rewiring. One theory is that chimpanzees would squat to feed, thereby freeing their hands to become useful in other ways (and leading to bidepality). With this opportunity, new "brainware" developed to take advantage of it. So, if you're thinking in terms of evolution (which we are still a part), it would take some new opportunity or an obvious advantage. Keeping things clean because it's nice isn't enough, there has to be either an immediate perceived threat that makes us panic and change, or we either have to have a large gain. Say, making money for recycling. :wink:

    BTW, what do you mean by overaccumulation? Like too much of the material world? I guess you'll have to wait for the minimalist trend to kick in. The age of the monk or something.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2005
  9. Jan 3, 2005 #8
    not emerging, merging.

    a culture has a stream of consciousness that runs through it's populace. A commonality of experience and awareness of it's surroundings, knowledge, beliefs...etc

    As cultures merge through education/communication/breeding so to does their stream producing a more diverse and i would say higher level of understanding.

    I am not the sum total of just my own experiences or awareness. I am but a tributary in the stream of my cultures consciousness.

    I see myself as a continuation of a polynesian stream, merging with other streams to become stronger, faster, deeper and sooner or later we all reach the ocean.
  10. Jan 8, 2005 #9
    Yes, I agree that profound shifts in human consciousness have taken a long time. Obviously technological changes, political and social changes do not take nearly as long. (Example: There have been changes in using outright slavery as a basis for social and economic development although the exploitation of human beings continues in other ways.) Now, because of advances in technology, humans are presented with a challenge on a totally different level. I think that our viability depends on how we meet this challenge. It amazes me how many people still don’t see a problem. Unfortunately, meeting the challenge does not seem just a matter of will or knowledge (although these may help). I think that it has a lot to do with perception and communication.
  11. Jan 8, 2005 #10
    As you were saying, if a threat is immediately seen we might be able to deal with it. If one is inside of a burning house, one either puts out the fire or escapes. But first, one must see that the house is on fire. If one has no awareness that there is a fire or stops to figure out which actions are going to bring the most economic rewards then the challenge will be lost.

    By over accumulation, I mean having far more than one needs. One has so much that it just ends up as waste in landfills or in lakes and oceans. The amount of waste produced by industrialized societies is incredible. The U.S and Canada are at the forefront in the production of waste, which not only strains the earth’s resources but also causes dangerous pollution levels. We take our extravagance for granted. Everyone does not have to live as monks. It is a matter of finding a balance that is in harmony with our environment
  12. Jan 8, 2005 #11
    D’accord! I think that awareness change as cultures merge. Perhaps we have a new sense of our shared humanity. In general, diversity helps in adaptation to change. Personally, I would have liked to see more merging of the aboriginal perspective of living in harmony with the land and the dominant cultural values towards industrialization.
  13. Jan 9, 2005 #12
    We in New Zealand have been doing that for quite a few generations now to the extent that few hold on to the eurocentric colonial values and sense of identity.

    We are as a nation slowly defining and aligning ourselves more towards polynesian cultural identities and values.

    There are still a few dinosaurs around looking to protect their previous dominance but we are slowly assimilating them or their progeny in much the same way as early colonists tried to assimilate polynesians using western christian values.

    It's be nice if Americans did the same with their indigenous population but in becoming American it seems you choose to forsake your cultural heritage such that you become the sum total of your own life's experience and any ties with the land you forge yourself based on that.

    In essence you choose become disconnected from your ancestral stream.
  14. Jan 9, 2005 #13


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    If you look at the cultural history of the 20th century the point could be made that wasp culture is absorbing and orienting itself toward black and Jewish culture. The "red state revolt" in the large sense including creationism in the schools can be seen as a late and furious revolt against this trend.
  15. Jan 15, 2005 #14
    What are the Black and Jewish cultural elements being absorbed by wasp culture? How about some examples? What meaning do you give to this? What is the “red state” revolting against and why are they (the red states) furious?
  16. Jan 15, 2005 #15


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    1. Movies.
    Hollywood was founded by Jews from New York, and ownership and production in the movies is still heavily Jewish. Ever hear of MGM? Metro Goldwyn Mayer.
    2. Humor.
    Bob Hope was about the only commedian who wasn't Jewish in the midcentury. (Added in edit: and Red Skelton)
    3. Popular music.
    In order from 1900 to 2000; Ragtime, Jazz, Swing, Bop, Rock and Roll, Rap. Every single one of them a Black idiom imitated by Whites.
    4. TV
    Look at the credits on your favorite show some time. Especially writing and production credits.

    This has teed off SOME people in the red states, the white identity movement with their talk of ZOG - the Zionist Occupation Government. But a great many people in the midcountry still go to the movies and watch TV and listen to Frank Sinatra CDs - he was a very talented imitator of Black pop singing of the 30's and 40's. I'm not sure they are mad at all.

    My daughter tells me the folks at her office who voted for Bush held their noses while doing so. It was very much a case of "The devil you know versus the devil you don't". Nobody could get a confident fix on what a Kerry administration was really likely to do, and in the age of terrorism, that was unacceptible.

    Also the effort to tar Bush with lying over the Iraq war backfired. As we found out with the Clinton scandal, the public works a cognitive dissonance magic on attempts to smear the President of the United States; their animus gets directed back on the accusers, while the President is affirmed.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2005
  17. Jan 15, 2005 #16
    Candace Pert, wrote a book called The Molecules Of Emotion. She discusses emotion on a molecular level.

    Continuing trauma, and stress leads to neuro-physical changes on a molecular level, at receptor sites, and continuing changes to chemistry of personality.

    We can change the consciousness of a human and lifetime feelings of well being, in one lengthy torture session. Many humans live torturous lives, hunger, abuse, poverty, slavery.

    Until we find a secular and humane way to weave the world's human populations into one, we will continue to subject more than half of the world's poplulation to misery. We cannot gauge that we have evolved if we haven't all evolved. We are not evolved if we allow large economic systems, to flourish on the abuse of 7/8 of the rest of the world. We are not evolved if we allow all other life forms on this world to suffer, and extinct due to our inability, to see beyond our differences.

    If we answered a phone, we are in the top 50%. If we are hooked up to a computer, that we own, we are much
    farther up, than the 50th percentile. I think the mark of our evolution, is the ability to turn back to the world that sustains us, and offer of ourselves to better conditions worldwide, and to change the morality of the operating paradigm.

    One person can make a difference, remember the old film, The Time Machine. With the help of one clever, educated, time traveler; the world was made safe for blondes!
  18. Jan 23, 2005 #17
    Thank you for elucidating the contributions made to the US culture (not just wasp culture) through Black and Jewish culture. It might also be added that all the cultural groups that make up a particular society are creative forces in that society whether their contributions are recognized are not by the authoritative social elite.

    The next question is whether these contributions have produced fundamental changes in the way people perceive and think about about themselves and reality around them.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2005
  19. Jan 23, 2005 #18
    Any environment can have an effect on an individual or a overall effect on a crowd. Isolation is the biggest factor of effect on an individual or a crowd.
  20. Jan 25, 2005 #19
    On Human Consciousness

    I think the answer to Esnas’s question, “Can human consciousness change in a way to avert the problems cause by over accumulation?” is answered in the following paragraph by 0TheSwerve0:

    “… So far as I know, theories about the change in the primate brain from chimpanzees to humans (roughly, with intermediates, etc) was sparked by a change in behavior and thus an opportunity for rewiring. One theory is that chimpanzees would squat to feed, thereby freeing their hands to become useful in other ways (and leading to bidepality). With this opportunity, new "brainware" developed to take advantage of it. So, if you're thinking in terms of evolution (which we are still a part), it would take some new opportunity or an obvious advantage.”

    In other words, as the opportunity arises, brain rewiring which results in new "brain ware” is developed as a result of new consciousness. Mathematically speaking ‘changes in consciousness’ is a function of ‘human reaction to new opportunity’. Therefore human consciousness CAN change in a way to avert the problems caused by over accumulation. Our reaction to new opportunity is rooted in our reaction to "the problems cause by over accumulation." Our reaction if positive will hopefully avert these problems caused by over accumulation.
  21. Jan 25, 2005 #20
    Changes in consciousnes and environmental catastrophe

    “Can this change [in consciousness] happen fast enough to avert environmental catastrophe?” is an extremely important question posed by Esnas. Can an outside force accelerate change to avert environmental catasrophe? Again, 0TheSwerve0 has one possible solution in the statement, “…there has to be either an immediate perceived threat that makes us panic and change…”

    A perceived threat is the key here. This “perceived threat” reminds me of one of the original “Outer Limits” science fiction series on television back in the 1960’s here in the United States. Scientists injected a human with a substance to change him into an alien creature. They then put him into a makeshift spacecraft to land at the United Nations to scare the nations of the world into uniting against a “perceived threat” (the alien) in order to end fighting between nations that was about to escalate into nuclear world war. So an immediate perceived threat that makes us panic and change forcing accelerated change to avert environmental catastrophe is definitely a possibility.
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