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How Brain Hallucinates The State Of Consciousness


When you wake from deep sleep you might feel confused about the time. You might also feel anxious about oversleeping but whatever you feel, there’s always a basic sense of time having passed. There’s that basic sense of continuity between then – before sleeping and now – after waking up. But if you ask this to a person coming up from anesthesia, they might be under for five minutes or five hours they don’t feel that continuity of time. It’s total oblivion to them. This is the difference that consciousness makes.

So this shows that consciousness is something very deep. How does consciousness happen – It is one of the greatest remaining mysteries in science. Answering this question is very important because consciousness is so important to us, without it there’s no world, there’s no self, there’s nothing at all.

The emotions that we, as a human being, have, be it joy or sorrow, it is all in a conscious state. What about animals? Are they conscious too? As computers are getting faster and smarter maybe there’ll come a point, maybe not too far away, where your phone develops a sense of its own existence. However, the chances of conscious AI are pretty remote because intelligence has less to do with pure intelligence and more to do with our nature as living and breathing organisms. Do you need to be smart to suffer? But we probably have to be alive, isn’t it?

How our brain and body give rise to consciousness?

With all the extensive research in neurology, all the experiments that are performed, one would hope for answers. But the fact is we know nothing about how the brain and body give rise to consciousness. Some experts even say that it is beyond the reach of science. But in the last twenty-five years, or so, this field has seen an explosion of scientific work. Scientists from various disciplines, even philosophers, are trying to understand how consciousness happens and what happens if it goes wrong.

Well, it is very difficult to explain consciousness. Think about consciousness in the way that we’ve come to think about life. There was a time when people thought that the property of being alive could not be explained by physics and chemistry. Everyone used to say that life had to be more than just a mechanism but people no longer think that. As biologists started explaining life in terms of physics and chemistry i.e. the concepts of metabolism, reproduction the basic mystery of what life is, started to fade away! People started to understand the basics of life.

The same is the thing with consciousness. Once we start explaining its properties in terms of things happening inside the brains and bodies the apparently insoluble mystery of what consciousness is, should start to fade away, well, that’s the plan! 🙂

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