What is Consciousness?

By Ilia Galouzidi, for EmbodiedMind Hub

A question that most of us don’t need an answer for. We might as well ask “what is living”? The answer is so obvious mostly because we experience “living” as much as we experience “consciousness”. However, no matter how obvious, consciousness has been the center of the scientific and philosophical interest for centuries and is still puzzling and controversial, probably being at the same time the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.

Some synonyms of consciousness can be “the mind”, other times just an aspect of mind. In the past, it was one’s “inner life”, the world of introspection, of private thought, imagination, and volition. Today, with modern research of the brain it often includes any kind of experience, cognition, feeling, or perception. It may be “awareness”, or “awareness of awareness”, or self-awareness.

One could simply describe it as wakefulness, one’s sense of self or soul explored by “looking within”; or being a mental state, mental event, or mental process of the brain.

The interesting part is that all of the above are true and can all be applied simultaneously.

But, you may ask yourselves now, “why am I interested in knowing more about this?” or “Why learning about consciousness is important for my well-being?”

Simply because by understanding what consciousness is, can lead you to understand how you, individually, perceive the world and consequently why you respond to the world the way you do.

Different disciplines assess consciousness in different ways. For example, your doctor will observe your arousal and responsiveness to stimuli and will record your levels of consciousness by using questionnaires or other assessment tools. Cognitive scientists, including psychologists and neuroscientists, will try to understand what it means biologically and psychologically for information to be present in consciousness – that is, on determining the neural and psychological correlates of consciousness. Finally, philosophers have used the term ‘consciousness’ for four main topics: knowledge in general, intentionality, introspection (and the knowledge it specifically generates), and phenomenal experience…

Naturally, our next question would be, where is our consciousness created in? Is it done by our brain, our body or can the truth be somewhere in between? Follow us and stay tuned for our next blog where these questions will be discussed in more detail.