«The essence of the neurobiological approach is that consciousness arises from the neural activity of the brain. Neurobiological approaches diverge, however, when they begin to specify which parts or elements of the brain give rise to the activity that is meant to represent consciousness. Neurobiological theories of consciousness derive their data from a number of sources such as .. neuroimaging and brain damage – and other branches of natural science such as mathematics and quantum physics. Each type of study has yielded a different perspective on the NCC (neural correlates of consciousness) ..” – from “Psychology”, Carlson, Martin and Buskist, 2004.
The neurobiological approaches assume consciousness is a byproduct of neural activation in the brain. There is no real understanding of what consciousness really is, or if it exists at all. Hence, studying it scientifically isn’t an endeavour to be taken on by the easily frustrated – this is especially true if you consider yourself to be a hardcore scientist not believing in anything you can’t measure objectively.
I’m sorry to say it, folks, but consciousness is the only thing in this physical reality you just simply can’t understand through objective means. You can observe what it does, but not what it is. To understand and know what it is, and whether it actually exists or not, you have to apply a subjective science. This is introspective observation, not to be mixed with psychoanalysis or any kind of psychological therapies.
Introspective observation is as simple as being still, relaxing with a clear mind, and witnessing directly the experience of one’s present moment self-aware existence. This is objective in it’s subjectivity, because in order to truly observe consciousness directly, you will have to drop all your ideas and preconcieved beliefs about it. Since the nature of consciousness is as see-through as space, and as intangible as air, it means you will “disturb” the observation of it if your mind comments, judges or offer opinions about your introspective observation. All your mental ideas exist because of what you have experienced in your life, and thus is your personal perspective on everything. This personal perspective is your verbal and mental understanding of your existence. If you observe your consciousness through this filter of your mental, pre-programmed understanding of the world, you will not be able to see what consciousness really is, because it exists beyond the mind that is trying to understand it.
One of the major positions to theories of consciousness (at least in philosophy) is that it is a supernatural phenomenon that cannot be studied by the mind. I wouldn’t say it’s “supernatural”. Consciousness is completely natural, but exists on a deeper level of existence than our seemingly objective physical reality, and even deeper than our mind. Consciousness is (at) the root of our existence. Without it nothing would be. The neurobiologial approaches to understanding it are well-intentioned, but they’ve got the facts twisted. The brain’s neural activity doesn’t cause consciousness; consciousness causes neural activity.
Now I hear some neurobiological psychologists shouting somewhere in the back that I’m full of it and can’t see clearly that the activity in different areas of the brain correlates with different conscious awareness of different kinds of reality information, which must mean that consciousness is subject to the physical laws of the holy brain and it’s divine synaptical structures (by the way, I might be wrong about the shouting psychologists, but let’s just play with it, right). I will agree to the degree that I’ll acknowledge that the expression of consciousness, and what it can do is constricted/limited by what kind of centers are developed in the brain, and whether or not these are damaged or not, etc.
Consciousness itself, however, is not damaged even if the brain is. The brain is the sub-system, while Consciousness (yes, with a big “C”) is the super-system.
What naturally follows this would be that consciousness is not located in any specific part of the brain at all, since the brain really is located in consciousness. The physical, and thus measurable, result of this would be that there are no specific regions in the brain where consciousness specifically arises, but rather, it will be perfectly and completely integrated and intertwined in every single neuron’s activity. Why? Because consciousness intends, and the brain follows. Whatever the brain does is done because consciousness intends something and is prior to the brain, the mind, and everything else. Even before you can experience anything your senses registers, you must be conscious. Consciousness must be there. If it is not present then nothing will be percieved to exist, like in deep dreamless sleep (unless you stay aware while the body falls asleep and become aware of consciousness itself).
Therefore, with this in mind, let’s revisit the last sentence of the quote from “Psychology”:
“Each type of study has yielded a different perspective on the NCC (neural correlates of consciousness) ..” – which simply put means they’re all hypothesizing about different neural locations in the brain where consciousness comes into being.
I propose that in the end we’ll discover that there are no specific parts of the brain where consciousness resides. It will be found that it is deeply involved in all activity in the entire body, and then in the real end (haha), they’ll scientifically figure out that consciousness is the root of Existence. The discovery is closing in (for example, check “My Big TOE” by physicist Thomas Campbell), but has not reached any point of fruition as of yet.
But, there’s no need to wait for science to catch up. Science is slow like evolution. You are conscious right now, and can study your own self-aware consciousness in this very moment. Just make sure to do it like a real scientist – do not have any expectations about any specific outcome of your introspective observation, and do not cling to or push away any experiences that might appear. Simply remain an observing witness to whatever’s going on, while keeping the conscious knowing of being alive continuous and present throughout your “session”.
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