The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

A Practical Origin

Others see consciousness as useful to find solutions to practical problems. The Australian philosopher David Malet Armstrong, for example, argued that the biological function of consciousness is to “sophisticate” the mental processes so that they yield more interesting action.

Alas, today consciousness hardly contributes to survival. We often get depressed because we are conscious of what happens to us. We get depressed just thinking of future things, such as death. Consciousness often results in less determination and perseverance. Consciousness cannot be the ultimate product of Darwinian evolution towards more and more sophisticated survival systems, because it actually weakens our survival system.

Consciousness' apparent uselessness for survival may be more easily explained if we tipped our reference frame. It is generally assumed that humans' ancestors had no consciousness and consciousness slowly developed over evolutionary time.  Maybe it goes the other way around: consciousness has always existed, and during evolution most species have lost part of it.  Being too self-aware does hurt our chances of surviving and reproducing. Maybe evolution is indirectly improving species by reducing their self-awareness.

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