May 22, 2007

From Tim Taylor:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): I believe that both sides of the so called scientific debate mentioned in your article are quite far off base in their respective approaches to the meaning of consciousness.

First of all, consciousness (as distinguished from cognition) is not a biological process. Consciousness is entirely a mental process, a method of thinking abstractly by using metaphors from language. Consciousness is LEARNED. It is not innate.

You learned consciousness starting from infancy as you learned language. There is no consciousness without abstract language. Thus, infants are not conscious until they have learned to think using abstractions which arise from language. Humans were not conscious before the advent of abstract language. The historical record proves this, as we can see that language and abstract thinking was not common among humans only 10,000 or so years ago. Humans had not begun to think using abstractions.

Animals are not conscious. They think cognitively and can think very well but, do not use consciousness which is nothing more than abstract thinking. (Some animals come close though) We humans do not always use consciousness in our thinking. We can drive a car or bicycle or do may repetitive tasks while completely unconscious. That involves cognitive thinking. Consciousness only comes into play when we start thinking abstractly.

Out of body experiences are the product of abstract thinking using consciousness. Using abstract thinking, for example, you can “see” yourself outside of your physical body. Anyone can do it and we humans do it all the time. There is no mystery about it -- nothing supernatural or even complicated for that matter.

I’m surprised that such renowned scientists haven’t figured this out. Perhaps it is so simple that it eludes them.


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