Home Discussion Forum In your opinion, how was consciousness more adapted than unconscious functions when...

In your opinion, how was consciousness more adapted than unconscious functions when it first evolved?

Mistress Bekki: I’m talking about the kind of consciousness that has to think before it reacts, not the kind that automatically pulls your hand away from a hot stove.


  1. Conscious functions are more responsive to the environment. A conscious creature is able to react better.
    I guess it depends what, precisely, you mean by consciousness.
    Well thinking allows a more nuanced response to complicated situations. The hot stove problem does not require much thinking. That’s why we have reflexes and lots of body functions that are governed without our thinking about them. Having consciousness doesn’t remove the need for unconscious functions. But thinking also allows a creature to take advantage of unique opportunities and mitigate unique threats that couldn’t be pre-programmed into instinctive responses.

  2. I’m not really understanding your question- perhaps it’s the way you’ve worded it. But, if I understand you correctly, I disagree. Unconscious function (instinct) developed first- there’s no doubt about that. Consciousness (often defined as the ability to be self-aware) is a product higher brain function and therefore most likely evolved after instinct. Simply put, once an organism no longer needs to devote all their time to survival, they have a chance to ponder. The more time we have available for pondering, the stronger our ability to ponder becomes.

  3. Actually, if you mean conscious intelligence, that ability is biologically expensive and generally not a plus for most species. It would be wasted, even contra-survival , in cockroaches, prey animals, and the plant kingdom all over.
    In humans, since we already had hands, a good voice box, decent size, a bipedal locomotion, etc., conscious intelligence allowed us to transcend the survival level, and outmaneuver Nature itself. We could see and change the rules that we used to be forced to obey. It allowed us to become even better at what we could do that other animals could not.


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