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

  • #1
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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..."

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/opinion/sunday/are-we-really-conscious.html

Lots of research online seems to lead to people fumbling around for even a definition of what this "consciousness" thing might be, let alone what it is, or if it exists at all.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Evo
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If you are reading this, you are conscious.

: the condition of being conscious : the normal state of being awake and able to understand what is happening around you

: a person's mind and thoughts

: knowledge that is shared by a group of people

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consciousness

I'll leave this open as long as it does not become a philosophical debate. All posts must cite scientific research so that we stay focused. Thanks!
 
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  • #3
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"OF the three most fundamental scientific questions about the human condition, two have been answered.

"First, what is our relationship to the rest of the universe?...

"Second, what is our relationship to the diversity of life?...

"Third, what is the relationship between our minds and the physical world?"

This whole premise is ridiculous. There is no such thing as "the three most fundamental scientific questions about the human condition." This author invented that concept and filled in his own blanks as to what they are in the service of promoting his alleged new paradigm about consciousness. The whole article is a straw man.

As to the question of whether there is a universally accepted scientific definition of consciousness, I think the answer is "no." The dictionary definition offered by Evo is, like any dictionary definition, intended to inform the reader about what people mean when they use the word. A scientific definition would have to be more specific and rigorous to permit in-depth study of the mechanisms of consciousness, and that is where science has traditionally had a hard time getting traction.

If @Pythagorean sees this he can probably provide links to articles that give a clear picture of why it is so hard to define.
 

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