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September 27th 2009

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    There are amongst the great minds those who see the word 'consciousness' and come away with an idea that it fails the criteria of usefulness.  

    They see it as a set that lacks precision and its surface is so slippery it defies the grasp of analysis.  In other words consciousness has so flexible a meaning it defies useful understanding.  Generally the result of this disappointment is a production of diagrams and maps and equations, or at the other extreme this disappointment produces a belief in revelation by usually conniving mortals who claim to have seen the unseen.

    Conceptualized as a 'slope in a random place', consciousness suggests movement absent purpose.  This view, which I have yet to persuade anyone to accept, falls on deaf ears mostly because purpose is ingrained in our thinking.  And those of us who suggest that consciousness is without purpose are advised to seek psychological help because probably we are sociopathic, deeply depressed and possibly dangerous.

    Central to my view is the universality of consciousness.  This is yet another anathema, because it means that matter has to be given the quality of aware.  And the question becomes, "matter is aware of what?"  Which is an astute way of asking for a definition of "aware".  

    

 

    This inevitably leads discussion back to the statement that consciousness is not useful, because without actually becoming something like an oxygen atom, no one can say how matter might be aware.  Nor can we conceptualize the experience of being an oxygen atom, because, outside of kindergarten theatre, everything we know about oxygen atoms suggests there is a mechanical inevitability to their behavior which utterly defies the attribute of choice that aware suggests.

    To counter this perfectly sensible and logical objection to my 'slope in a random place', I argue that matter is more like us, than we are like our understanding of matter.  And as a sociopathic, deeply depressed and possibly dangerous individual, scientific minds pat me on the head and ask me how the vegetable garden is doing.

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tim candler

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