Thursday, 17 May 2012


It is argued either that consciousness is different from unconscious processes, therefore independent of them, or that it is dependent on unconscious processes, therefore reducible to them. Both premises are true but neither conclusion follows and both are false. Thus: 

consciousness is different but dependent;
difference does not entail independence;
dependence on unconscious processes does not entail identity with them;
consciousness is neither independent nor reducible.

Consciousness depends on brains which depend on mostly unconscious bodily and environmental processes. It, consciousness, is a sensitive interaction whose sensitivity has quantitatively increased until it was qualitatively transformed from unconscious sensitivity into conscious sensation. That consciousness involves conscious sensation is a tautology. However, a non-tautologous definition of consciousness is both impossible and unnecessary. We are conscious, thus conscious of consciousness. 

Consciousness exists only in specific conditions but is not identical with its conditions because causality is not identity. The objective description of an observed brain state differs qualitatively from the subjective description of an experienced mental state. An observed brain is an object of its observer's consciousness whereas the brain-possessing organism is not only an object but also a subject of consciousness. A description of its consciousness must refer to the objects of that consciousness, not just to its brain states. A brain as perceived by a neurologist is not the world as perceived by the brain's possessor. However, neurology and psychology, addressing causes and effects, might converge. 

Several unconscious processes do not add up to one conscious process but consciousness emerges from many neural interactions none of which is individually conscious just as the quality of liquidity emerges from many water molecules none of which is individually liquid. 

Thesis: emphasis on the difference between conscious and unconscious processes encourages dualism.
Antithesis: emphasis on the dependence of consciousness on unconscious processes encourages reductionism.
Synthesis: emphasis on both is dialectical materialism.

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