Description: Lets’ start with a quick definition (we will not hold ourselves to it). Let’s say that our consciousness involves our mind’s awareness of, and internal model for keep track of, the outside world. Make sense? I bet that is pretty close to how you currently think about your consciousness, if you think about it much at all. Now, would it surprise you to consider the following 2 things? First, that Psychologists have worked rather hard to NOT spend a lot of time trying to figure out the nature of human consciousness (it seems to be too complicated, perhaps even too magical to get hold of for research purposes). Second, it may very well be that your consciousness (your mind) does NOT map the world very well as it actually is but, instead, works on the basis of a sort of theory about what the world is like based a little bit on past experience. How does that sound? And in the face of those statements how do you feel about your ability to know yourself and to know the world you are living in? know yourself and to know the world you are living in? Yes, I know, that sounds a bit like voo doo philosophy but …. Read the article linked below to see an overview of where the consciousness questions are at and a little bit about what that might mean.
Source: Being You by Professor Anil Seth review – the exhilarating new science of consciousness, Gaia Vince, The Guardian.
Date: August 25, 2021
So, how are you feeling about being you now? At some level it should not be a surprise as there is quite a bit of research evidence that people see (or believe) what they expect to see (or expect to be true) and often miss it when reality either does not quite match up with expectations. However, it does create some issues with advice like “to thine own self be true” (so says, Polonius in Hamlet). The coming years of consciousness research will be fascinating but while we wait for it to arrive it may help to reflect on Anil Seth’s suggestion that we have some mental influence in the model of the world we have in our brain and that we live in. Perhaps we need to try and be more aware of and take more advantage of this authorial role.
Questions for Discussion:
- How accurately do our minds map the world we live in?
- If this mapping is less than perfect what does that mean for our thoughts and theories of consciousness?
- What are some questions (research or just hypotheses) about consciousness that need to be address in the near future?
References (Read Further):
Seth, A. (2021). Being you: A new science of consciousness. Penguin.
Grof, S. (2019). Psychology of the future: Lessons from modern consciousness research. Suny Press. Link
Grof, S. (2013). Revision and Re‐Enchantment of Psychology: Legacy from Half a Century of Consciousness Research. The Wiley‐Blackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology, 89-120. Link
Pereira Jr, A., & Ricke, H. (2009). What is Consciousness?: Towards a preliminary definition. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 16(5), 28-45. Link
Cicero, D. C., Cohn, J. R., Nelson, B., Gawęda, Ł., Cicero, D. C., Cohn, J. R., … & Gawęda, Ł. (2021). Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice. Link