The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"


The British psychologist Richard Gregory has shown how language is but one particular type of "tool". The human race, in general, is capable of making and using tools, and language happens to be one of them.

Gregory claims that "tools are extensions of the limbs, the senses and mind." The fundamental difference between humans and apes is not in the (very small) anatomical differences but in language and tools. Man is both a tool-user and a tool-maker.

Gregory shows that there are "hand" tools (such as level, pick, axe, wheel, etc) and "mind" tools, which help measuring, calculating and thinking (such as language, writing, counting, computers, clocks).

Tools are extensions of the body. They help us perform actions that would be difficult for our arms and legs. Tools are also extensions of the mind. Writing extended our memory. We can make a note of something. So do photographs and recordings. This book extends my mind. It also extends your mind. Tools like books create a shared mind.

Gregory qualifies information as "potential intelligence" and behavior as "kinetic intelligence". Tools increase intelligence as they enable a new class of behavior. A tool "confers" intelligence to a user, meaning that it turns some potential intelligence into kinetic intelligence.

A person with a tool is a person with a potential intelligence to perform an action that without the tool would not be possible (or much more difficult).

Behavior is often just using that tool to perform that action. It may appear that intelligence is in your action, but, actually, intelligence is in the tool, not in your action. Or, better, they are two different types of intelligence.

And words are just one particular type of tool.

There is also a physical connection in our body between language and tool usage: the same hemisphere controls them both.


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