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What is the origin of consciousness?

What is your perspective on the origin of consciousness? Do you beleive that science can make reasonable considerations on what the origin of consciousness is?
Thank you, Corinthian, for your descriptive answer. The question that arises from that, though, is how God himself came to have consciousness. You quoted that “God is a self existing being”. If consciousness is a self-awareness – the ability to perceive the relationship between ourselves and our surroundings, then how could an entity have consciousness- awareness of itself- in the beginning – if it was the only thing that was in existance? For example- the concept of love could not be understood without also understanding the concept of hate. It is when one is put in relation to the other, that we become aware that both concepts exist. So with nothing in relation to itself, how could this entity be aware of it’s own existance?
I am not trying to disprove anyone’s beleifs, so I am apologizing in advance if it comes across that way. I do not know the answer to this either, so I am definitely not trying to say that I am right. It is just a topic that I have always been curious about- which is why I’m interested in other’s opinions on it. Thanks for your answers! 🙂
Sorry, Skeptical- I didn’t see your edit when I came back and added comments. But yes, I did go to the link that you provided- I wasn’t able to get access to it, but after researching the author, it sounds very interesting. I’ll check out the book. Thank you. 🙂


  1. The origin of consciousness was in the breakdown of the bicameral mind.
    This is a topic of vast interest to me as a philosopher. I have not come across a theory which comes anywhere close to being able to explain this elusive riddle.
    I would strongly suggest you get a copy of this book and read it thoroughly, it’s actually a nice book to read:
    “The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the BIcameral Mind” by Julian Jaynes.

  2. Perhaps I should define what I understand when you say ‘consciousness’ – I would call this intelligence (not in the sense of knowledge gained, but of a ‘being’ – some may call it the soul–the mind of man –the immortal spirit.
    Where did it come from? All learned men and doctors of divinity say that God created it in the beginning.
    We say that God Himself is a self-existing being. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. The scripture says, “God made man out of the earth and put into him Adam’s spirit, and so became a living body.”
    The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-eternal with God himself. The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits.
    Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.
    The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with Himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.

  3. Consciousness is the act of being aware of yourself.
    Awareness is the act of being aware of others.
    In the beginning the universe was a raging unknowing beast,some way it developed the capacity to become aware of itself. we and others like us are the consciousness of the universe.

  4. Self-awareness developed in lower life forms…in an albeit primitive state, ie, the living creature needed to find food to survive…the ‘consciousness’ was the first instinct for survival. Humans have a heightened level of self-awareness, we can support emotions, exercise free will, experience the difficult to define sensations (such as the sight and smell experiences of a spring day), and many other such experiences and feelings.
    At what point did the lower life forms evolve into more heighted levels of awareness? I can assure you, the millions of eons that lapsed between the single celled organisms to the higher life forms of today is the best answer. It doesn’t take conscious thought to move, breath, or other natural actions of a creature’s nervous system. At some point, the nervous system found that those that ‘thought’ were the ones that were most likely to survive.
    The cerebral cortex, the thinking part of our brains, is a more recent development in our species, say within the last 100,000 years or so. This is where our rational and logical thoughts resided. The more primitive limbic system, the last remnants of our reptillian past (aside from our tailbone), is where our primal instinct reside…including our irrational belief systems.
    Those that use the supernatural explanation to answer your question, are using that primitive limbic system of their brains.

  5. Some consciousness researchers hypothesize that consciousness is an “epiphenomenon” (that is a surrendiptious secondary effect) of being a living organism with a nervous system. We may be more like automatons (a fancy word for robot) that function because of survival instinct, habits and conditioning . Somehow in all this self-awareness, intelligence, and cognition emerge. Different organisms have different levels of consciousness based on survival needs. this is the idea. One responder here touched on this.
    If you want to get into a spiritual discussion–as other responders have noted, the idea among mystics considering this question is that consciousness itself is self-created and primoridial. For some people, this is the definition of “God” (for instance, if you were a nondualistic Vedantist, which I am). You ask, how could “God” be conscious if there was nothing else to be conscious of. First, to ask this is to make God into a person in a dual universe; but the mystic here is saying that God is not a person and does not exist in relation to anything else; rather, God is consciousness and existence itself. Conscious beings exist in it, not in relation to it. We are in it. Thus we exist and have consciousness.
    Here the mystic also claims that there is a difference between consciousness and the mind and senses. Consciousness need not have content in it. When one is in deep sleep, consciousness persists. If it did not, you would not wake up. In deep meditation, a person might enter into an experience of undifferentiated absorption. The person is not aware of anything but of consciousness itself and is only aware of it by reflection later upon returning to ordinary dualistic consciousness. The “memory” of it is not of being “unconscious” but invariably of being in a “blissful” and nondualistic, nonrelational condition.


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