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What are the most well accepted theories regarding the biological basis of consciousness?

What is science saying about the birth of self-awareness?

4 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent question.
    Self-awareness can be viewed as a by-product of evolution, which is non-directional. Those organisms that are self aware are better adapted to care for themselves and assure the survival of their genes into the next generation. It helps individuals escape predation more easily by allowing them to differentiate better between themselves and other creatures, the environment, etc.
    These are just speculations, as I am so not qualified to answer this question.
    Anyway, consciousness is not the same as self-awareness. Being conscious is being aware of yourself as part of an environment or system. Being self-aware is realizing that you are different than that environment and all the other organisms of your same species. It’s a slight point, but one is just a step up from the other – so you can see how evolution might have jumped to certain conclusions.
    I’m eager to read more answers!

  2. The place to start is by looking into definitions of consciousness. See the wikipedia link below. It mentions three different tests that have been proposed for consciousness. Note that these tests for consciousness are not necessarily dependent on a biological basis, but instead on a specific ability to process information. The basis for consciousness may be the same for both biological and machine processes.
    One of the key components of consciousness seems to be language. The connection between language and thought processes was first noted by Vygotsky (see sources). Current research indicates that many animals may have forms of language (including dolphins and chimps). Dogs can recognize language. A key element of language is symbols, being able to mentally map symbols (such as words) to things in the world. This may be a more basic component of consciousness than language (my conjecture)

  3. Consciousness is something that is seen in all animals that have a central nervous system. Obviously, consciousness in mammals is similar. It requires a functioning reticular activating system. And consciousness is affected by drugs, oxygen, blood glucose, CO2 levels, and sleep. Consciousness involves different parts of the brain and there are different levels of consciousness. These can be tested by performing different neurological tests and seeing the response.
    Self-awareness is a different matter and although I believe that it also occurs in other mammals besides humans, certainly not to the same degree. For example, a dog may see a mirror and recognize that the reflection is itself and not another dog, it doesn’t have the capacity for abstract thought. So it may not realize that the reflection stays there even if it turns its back on the mirror.
    Abstract thought is limited only to humans (i believe), and requires a well-developped frontal lobe (which other animals don’t have). Sef-awareness requires functioning senses and processing centers, but not abstract thought.

  4. Consciousness means as consensus, “sensing with”. But until recently, dominant brain-centered theories had forget our embodiement, within a body, and our embeded condition, within a ecosystem. It is the body who knows and feel, with and within ecosystem whatever it would be. This is the position of Embodied and Embeded Cognition, or Phenomenology. We have developed a new, symbiotic “server” to understand and practise all that: “mocoputomoco” server. This server is yourself, acting and perceiving in a integrated way, that is, including your brain, your body and your ecosystem. For that purposes, we call “ecobrain” each ecosystem, enhancing the integrated structure of our perception, thinking, and action systems. We kindly invite you to enjoy “sensosfera” too, after the “flesh” concept by Merleau-Ponty, which can be seen as the world of sensations…

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