Why the origin of consciousness is will always be a belief

Consciousness is the most (if not only) subjective experience in existence. There is no scientific definition for it, there is no scientific explanation for it. Consciousness is something you have, you experience, but can’t describe.

Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.

Susan Schneider

Yet, lots of people believe that consciousness is a by-product of the brain. Almost all people believe that other people are conscious. And finally, you believe you were conscious five seconds ago and you will be conscious in five more.

All beliefs based on observations about our real world, but they are all beliefs nonetheless. Maybe our consciousness is merely connected to our brain. Maybe you are the only conscious person in existence, and other people are just very good at faking it. Maybe, just maybe, you were not conscious until now. All you know about your past is your current conscious experience of your memory anyway.

None of these claims are falsifiable. Any conscious experience except your own (right now), is nothing more than a belief. And unless we ever define it in a different way than your subjective experience, it will always be just that: a belief.

Matter over Mind – Consciousness…Fundamental force or chocolate cake?

Due to the complexity of the subject, and the size of the article it has taken me a while to finish. But part one of the Familiar Existence series is finally published!

You can read it here. Enjoy!

Familiar Existence

What is our familiar existence? Seemingly a silly question. As I look out of the window I see the sun shining, trains passing by and people living their lives. This is what feels as our familiar existence. The world we expect to still be there when we wake up from a nights sleep. The world that was here before we were born and the world that will continue after we are long gone. The physical world.

But what is it really?

We are very good at understanding the physical world because it is so important to our survival. We have to know that if we fall of a cliff or don’t get food in time, we die. Our brains developed not only to understand these concepts, but to live them. That’s what makes them so familiar.
But even though we literally live and breathe the physical, it might just be part of the truth about our existence.

For what ultimately is our existence, is not the parts that construct us, but our mind itself. Out of all the things we know or think to know about reality, this is the one thing we actually know -or rather feel- to exist. Our local existence: consciousness.

Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefor I am)

René Descartes

While the physical world is the world we interact with, consciousness is the world we experience. The physical is often described as real, tangible. But is consciousness not just as real, if not more so?

Even though consciousness is at the core of our being, the discussion of existence is often polluted by the things that come most natural to us: the physical world.
In our daily lives cities are made of buildings and buildings are made of bricks. So it is understandable that the question of what existence is, is often answered by looking for the underlying building blocks.

We understand a great deal about what we call physical. Yet, this instinctive way of looking at the world does not seem to match the way it actually is. We do not expect consciousness to arise when we construct a building. Nor can we explain our own.

So where does consciousness find its origin?
Think back about your conclusions when you imagined yourself to be in that white room. What did you think? And what do those answers say about your beliefs? Could others make sense as well?
Is consciousness merely a side effect of the physical world we experience as true, or is it possible that the truth lies somewhere else?

During the next series we will explore our local existence: Consciousness. What is existence? What are you?

First Article: A Map of Existence

All video’s in the existence series are now combined into one article:

As per usual, there is also a video version available. Enjoy!

Existence (Part 5) – Island Shore

While the concept of everything lies within the fathomable its actual form only casts a shadow in my mind. A promise of it being there, but with edges faded and unclear.

Even though the concept of everything is fathomable, its actual form is not. It is an unending sea of unfathomable mystery that only gives rise to islands of fathomable.

Our first island contained nothing from our everyday reality. Nothing about the chair you sit on, the air you breathe, the space you move through or the time that ages you. Instead, it described how “nothing” is but a concept without any bases in existence. A statement that in turn dictates the existence of everything. Not just as a concept, but as a reality. Our most basic and deep reality. A reality so infinite it cannot ever be described or understood. Our minds can but dive into that infinite sea in the hope to explore more of the islands we hold as familiar. Islands that can only be observed by our minds.

But how does one continue? If our local existence is but an island of fathomable, we now merely know about the ocean of unfathomable it resides in.

We might not be able to answer how something that starts in the unfathomable ends up being fathomable, as I imagine the answer to that question to lie in the unfathomable itself.

To continue, we will have to change the starting point. Instead of starting with nothing, we will start at one of the islands most familiar to us. Now it is time to start thinking about the air we breathe and the chair we sit on. Heck, we might even include time and space.

In the next series I will focus more on our local existence. Using observations combined with the mind. Even though this is a more classical approach I hope to give a new and unique perspective to the reality we know. With countless islands left unexplored, the next series we marvel and wonder at the existence we think to know. Our familiar existence.

Beauty about reality

The beauty about reality, is that it can never fully be understood.

Existence (Part 4) – The Fathomable

The thing with everything, is that all we can imagine about it, is true. But everything we cannot imagine about it, is also true.

Our ability to reason, think and contemplate is just one of our senses. And like all others, it is a sense bound to our local reality, and therefore limited by it. As our eyes observe light, our mind observes the fathomable.

And for all beauty our other senses could ever make us feel, the fathomable has the potential to be more beautiful still. For the fathomable is not bound to our reality and can give us a glimpse of what might lie beyond. This is the reason existence can only be explored by the mind. This is the reason we should want to explore with the mind.

I believe our perception of the fathomable can grow as we grow. But as we are bound to our senses and eventually by our reality, the fathomable will also be bound. We can reach out and try to understand within those boundaries. But to go beyond is impossible by its very definition. The fathomable will always be a limited part of everything, mirrored by an unending sea of the unfathomable.

Like a character in a story could never observe the book he is written in, we could never observe, or even fathom the concept of everything.

Everything is because nothing is not.

Everything is because nothing is not.

The fabric of existence weaves itself whole.

Existence (Part 3) – Everything. Infinity.

If nothing isn’t a thing, something has to be. And if nothing isn’t a thing, something has to be everything. Born from not being nothing, existence becomes everything. Infinite.

These are concepts hard to grasp. For the world around us feels finite. Objects start somewhere and end somewhere. We have a beginning, and will have an ending. Even our universe seems to have begun at some point. Infinity is not a part of our experience, thus hard to believe in and impossible to grasp.
Yet, infinity does support the finite. And we might just be one digit among all possible integers.

The fear of infinity is a form of myopia that destroys the possibility of seeing the actual infinite, even though it in its highest form has created and sustains us, and in its secondary transfinite forms occurs all around us and even inhabits our minds.

Georg Cantor

So what is everything, in its most literal sense? I believe it is a concept a finite mind could forever contemplate, and never answer. The infinity of everything is not quantifiable. It has no start and no end, neither does it have a largest or smallest. It is an infinity that contains infinities and is contained by infinity itself. It is the endless fabric of everything there is.

If I were to describe it, more than anything else, I believe existence. Everything. Is potential. The potential for everything to exist and everything to be. A potential that is fact. Endless potential for our and countless other realities to exist.

Everything is because nothing is not. Endless realities being just one of the many effects of existence itself.

Existence (Part 2) – Nothing is not a thing

So. Where might one begin, if it is not our own frame of reference? Without our perspective we have no matter to analyse, no space to start in and not even a beginning as there is no time. We start out with nothing.
How about we do? Literally start with nothing.

Out of the ideas I wish to explain, this one might be the hardest to put into words. To some, this would seem like twisting definition. A play of words. But allow yourself to be open to what nothing really would mean. Don’t try to understand it so much, as to feel it.

Nothing. While the definition is simple, the concept is often interpreted as the absence of something.
We imagine the absence of matter. Is this nothing?
We imagine the absence of radiation. Is this nothing?
We imagine the absence of dimensions. Is this nothing?

When we ask ourselves why anything exists, we are not asking why there is not just empty space, or some quantum soup. We are asking ourselves why anything, anything at all exists. Why is there not just nothing? Pure, unconditional nothing?

Only when we leave our own perspective behind can “nothing” take its true form, its true meaning. Nothing as nothing. A definition not open for debate.

This is the point where our way of thinking abandons us. For nothing is a concept that cannot even be conceived by our imagination. The reason for this, I believe, is that nothing in reality is as true as its definition on paper: nothing is not a thing.

Nothing. A concept to represent the opposite of something. For in our world, up must have a down and full must have an empty. Something… must have nothing.

Only in the absence of anything, there would be nothing. But in a pure and naked existence, why would there be a preference for one or the other?
Consider the following.
If there is nothing, there is nothing to prevent something to be.
If there is something, this is everything to prevent nothing to be.

Of course, the concept of nothing can never fully be grasped, and this is just my take on it. But to me, nothing, when taken in the truest meaning of the word, is not a thing.

Therefore, there is something.