The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

 

Origins: What Was Life?

We often forget that brains are first and foremost alive, and no convincing evidence has been presented so far that dead brains can think. As far as we know, minds are alive. As far as we know, life comes first.á If "thinking life" is a particular case of "life", then the same type of processes which are responsible for life may be responsible also for the mind.á And the mystery of the mind, or at least the mystery of the principle that underlies the mind, may have been solved a century ago by the most unlikely sleuth: the British biologist Charles Darwin.

Darwinánever really explained what he wanted to explain (the origin of species), but he probably discovered the "type of process" that is responsible for life. He called it "evolution", today we call it "design without a designer", "emergence", "self-organization" and so forth. What it means is that properties may appear when a system reorganizes itself due to external constraints, due to the fact that it has to live and survive in this world.á This very simple principle may underlie as well the secret of thought. Darwin's theory of evolution is not about "survival of the fittest", Darwin's theory is about "design".

Life is defined by properties that occur in species as different as lions and bacteria. Mind would appear to be a property that differentiates humans from other living beings in a crucial way, but at closer inspectionů animals do communicate, although they don't use our language; and animals do reason, although they don't use our logic; and animals do show emotions. What is truly unique about humans, other than the fact that we have developed more effective weapons to kill as many animals as we like?

 


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