Monday, June 11, 2018
More on consciousness: individual v cosmic
On p 60 of the June 2018 issue of Scientific American, there is a detailed article “What Is Consciousness?: by Chrisitof Koch; it can be compared to similar articles reported here at the end of Oct. 2017 (also work of Koch).
One theory, called GNW, presumes a system becomes conscious when a “blackboard” of information is broadcast to an appropriate larger network.
But the Integrated Information Theory, or IIT, makes more sense to me. A non-countable set of information, like an aesthetic experience, requires consciousness to contain it; if the container is sufficiently sophisticated, the container becomes aware of the information and of itself.
Putting this together with earlier articles, it sounds as though individual awareness for higher animals is marked off by a kind of “event horizon”, where consciousness is regarded as a basic component of the Universe comparable to gravity. But with most living things (plants, colony animals, slime molds, even social insects), the group consciousness (or hive) is more pertinent than any individual’s. It would sound as though religious or spiritual practices involving selflessness, at odds with normal workplace values, would enable moving the locus of awareness to some sort of medium that could survive an individual’s physical death.