3 Answers

  1. At the moment, there is no scientific theory that can be presented as a leading one. The very concept of consciousness is now in the stage of conceptualization – we need a conceptual apparatus that would allow us to adequately talk about consciousness, but so far there are only philosophical projects of such an apparatus, each with its own supporters and opponents, pros and cons.

    I will not touch on these arguments, but I will reduce consciousness to our ability to reflect, to introspection, to thinking. Especially since that's what you're talking about, since it's about the voice in your head.

    All of the following is my hypothesis, how I can imagine the evolution of the ability to be aware of myself, it does not pretend to be true or scientific. Perhaps I am behind the times and my hypotheses have already been refuted by science or have long become commonplace.

    The most primitive animals do not even have ganglia, apparently their nerves serve only to transmit signals from one semi-autonomous part of the body to another, in their behavior there is no integrity, only consistency. As complexity increases, wholeness becomes necessary, and so there is a brain providing it, or at least a brain ganglion. It aggregates signals from all over the body, bringing them together into a single picture – this is what I am ready to call consciousness, the consciousness that is lost by losing consciousness. In fact, their brain creates a projection of the body and the external environment in their head, and changes in this projection directly generate this or that instinctive behavior. In case of conflicting signals, the strongest one wins. But in this scheme there is no place for creative approach, the animal can only acquire a reflex. And here the cortex of the brain appears, like a kind of mirror that allows the animal to look inside itself. The work of the brain itself becomes part of the projections in consciousness. First, the most significant signals, then, as the ability to look at yourself develops, more subtle ones. In other words, it is now possible to build behavior not only on the basis of external impulses, but also internal ones. Previously, the chain was simple – a red spot in the field of vision appeared in the projection of the environment in the brain and triggered flight. Now an intermediate stop is added – a red spot in the field of view generates a red spot in the projection, which generates the thought “I see a red spot”, which can already start running. Or it may not launch. Because at this point, the animal gets a chance to think. Not just compare several signals in intensity and behave according to the strongest one, but calculate your behavior in your head, see its consequences, and make a decision based on the intensity of reactions to the consequences of various decisions. The development of the cortex enhances several directions at once. First, the animal “sees” its thoughts better. It is able to distinguish between similar concepts that would have previously stuck together into one, to notice what has flashed fleetingly in the head. The categorical apparatus is developing. The conditional cat operates on the “house”, but no longer operates on the rooms in the house, this is all”house”. She has the category “place with food”, it is important, but the rooms are not important. Home and owners, home and food, home and toilet – very close things, closer than we have. The tail of another cat is considered inseparable from this cat, and it does not need to separate tails into a separate category. Second, you can predict increasingly long chains of actions. For monkeys, for example, mastering simple tools is an extraordinary task; among monkeys who have learned to chop nuts, not everyone is able to master this method, it requires keeping in mind a sequence of six, it seems, actions and constantly looking into your head, checking which action is next. Difficult. And third, this “mirror” seems to be turning more and more inside the head. And at some point, it turns enough so that the thought process unfolding in the cortex is able to see itself as a whole, and not just thoughts in chunks. This is self-awareness-the understanding that the thoughts you observe are yours. And the counter-understanding of more ancient structures that the source of commands is also you.

    I think it's quite plausible to assume that monkeys are self-aware. I don't really believe in the mirror test, but if they reach the level of a three-year-old child, then at about three years old they acquire the ability to operate with the concept of “I”. Although I love the theory of the bicameral mind, I don't think the ancient Greeks didn't have the same understanding that three-year-olds have today. It is unlikely that our upbringing or our physiology has improved so much. Monkeys are unlikely to have grown up to more complex concepts, although abstractions are generally available to them – they play with toys.

    A few small points that are of interest to me. The model of the body in the head that I was talking about can be observed by everyone. Put your hand to your cheek – the brain receives two signals about tactile contact, but one is felt. Or look for information about why you can't tickle yourself-all this indirectly shows that we do not perceive sensations directly, our brain processes them and contributes them to the body model that is constantly maintained in our head. It is likely that thinking can be structured in the same way, only recursion is required. We keep in mind a model of ourselves that thinks and monitors how it thinks, thinking about this tracking inside the same model.

  2. Well, the second part of the question is more or less clear. For each object or phenomenon, a person came up with a designation (gave a name) in the form of a word. For example, you are told-стул a chair, and an image of a chair appears in your head. That is, people have learned to transform images of objects into words in order to understand and communicate better with each other. Thanks to this, they were able to exchange experiences better than other animals, and achieved a little more development than ,for example, monkeys or other animals. When you conduct a dialogue in your head, you simply organize images, i.e. form them sequentially in thoughts, putting them into words. This is your inner voice. But this is not consciousness itself,it is only its external manifestation. Consciousness itself is a mystery, equivalent to knowing about the entire universe. No wonder there is such a saying – ” know yourself, and you will know the whole world.” And indeed, even at the level of physics, if we analyze the human brain, which some consider consciousness itself, to the level of elementary particles, we will face the question-do these particles arise by chance or not by chance? If by chance, then it turns out that every moment we randomly appear,and not only we, but the whole world,the whole universe. And then we will face the question, what is an instant, i.e. time? After all, the universe is eternal and infinite,which means that there is no point of reference for it. So there is no “was” or � “will be” . Where does this sense of eternity come from in the human mind? What experience does humanity have to create such an image in consciousness? After all, according to the theory of evolution, we are only a few billion years old. In general, this is a long topic,entire scientific and non-scientific treatises have been written on it, but science has not yet given an ambiguous answer to this question.

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