Consciousness: Our Portal To Fulfillment Essay

1195 words - 5 pages

Human culture expands rapidly and our concept of consciousness is rapidly evolving with it. Philosophers have filled the void concerning the true nature of consciousness not yet determined by science. Despite the subjective nature of consciousness, perceived by many to be a personal and private aspect of human existence, neurobiologists are investigating and measuring objective characteristics of introspective reasoning and associated elements of morality. Most agree that consciousness is key to human happiness and belonging. I will argue that consciousness is a physiological phenomenon, equivalent to the concept of self, as well as a portal to one’s culture, collective experience and fulfillment. I contend that it is critical to human experience.
Philosophers agree that consciousness is man’s key to the concept of “self,” able to activate memory, values and feelings of identity, yet they remain conflicted as to how. Although Dualists contend that brain impulses and the consciousness of the soul are separate substances or processes, Functionalists believe introspective consciousness is a biological phenomenon of the brain that regulates perception and reasoning. Both find consciousness to be the source of “the self,” the “me” that defines an individual’s identity. Functionalist philosopher David Armstrong makes the argument that introspective consciousness is aligned with consciousness of self and feels that "unless mental activity is monitored by introspective consciousness, it is unlikely it will be remembered" (Armstrong, 1980). Anti-functionalists like Thomas Nagel argue that the "subjective character of experience” associated with consciousness can't be fully measured by physical description and that brain states are not equal to conscious states (Nagel, 1974; Hofstadter and Dennett, 1981). Philosopher David Chalmers likewise argues that no matter how clearly science reduces the process of mental reasoning, it still can’t fully explain the “hard problem” of how the brain activates the subjective experience (as cited in Gertler & Shapiro 2007a). Frank Jackson argues that the cognitive process is a combination of mental processing of information and the consciousness of eyewitness experience with the sum being greater that the two parts (as cited in Gertler & Shapiro 2007a).
Based on recent breakthroughs in science, many of today’s philosophers concur that consciousness is a physiological phenomenon, wholly dependent on the brainstem and cortex to remain active and central to human behavior. If the brainstem is severed at a particular place, then an individual’s consciousness is terminated. It’s that simple. According to philosopher John Searle, consciousness is a biological dynamic like photosynthesis or digestion and, even though it is subjective in nature, it is subject to the same scientific analysis and objective claims. Searle feels consciousness can be measured by an individual’s feeling of being conscious, by...

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