Monday, April 12, 2010

The Collective Self

"The idea that consciousness is the product of interaction between different areas of the brain may have begun with Bernard Baars in 1983, but German philosopher Jurgen Habermans (born in 1929) has long argued that knowledge arises from interaction between people. George Herbert Mead argued that mind itself arises from such interaction, rather than the other way around. It is far from surprising that the social and individual processes of the mind would mimic, or perhaps mirror, each other, and comes as no surprise to those of us who question the assumption that each of us has, or is, a fundamental single self from which all else proceeds."
-Steve Wilson, letter published in New Scientist


The conscious brain evolved at the level of the Visshuddhi Chakra, which is characterised by the quality of collectivity, the interaction, or play, between variegated parts of a whole. According to Advaita philosophy, the Self is singular, but also has innumerable aspects which can interact through the principle of collectivity. Many scientists are tending towards the idea that individual 'selves' are fictitious - a simulation, or an illusion. However, to answer what has been called the 'hard problem' of consciousness - how subjective experience arises from the physical brain - we will always need a single universal subject, or Self.

3D chess game from Star Trek. Consciousness arises through interaction and play.

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