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"

Communication and Ecology

Communication is two beings that engage in changing each other’s brain. That is actually the most natural phenomenon if one views life “top-down” and not “bottom-up”. When we think bottom-up, we conceive life as many small beings making up societies and larger and larger entities (ecosystems) and eventually making up the Earth. It actually works the other way around: the Earth existed before life as we know it, and the Earth, at any point in time, is also made of living components such as ecosystems, which are made of societies, which are made of individual beings. It is no surprise that all those ecosystems, societies and individuals are capable of communicating: they are merely “parts” of one giant organism, the Earth. Communicating is their natural state. They are “parts” of the same organism.

Communication (and therefore language) is one of the most basic modes of living beings. When a bird sings in the woods, it is most likely telling other birds about the environment. The slightest disturbance will cause the tune to change. The bird singing in the woods is, therefore, reacting to sounds and smells and sights. The sounds the bird is making are "caused" by the environment and are in harmony with the environment. Those "sounds" communicate to other birds information about the environment. Indirectly it is the environment “talking” to the other birds, i.e. to itself.

Language is more than just sound. Language is sound (or vision, when you are reading) with a structure, and therefore packs more information than just sound. Language carries meaning. This was a crucial invention: that you can use sound as a vehicle to carry more information than the sound itself. Again, the tip probably came from Nature itself: Nature speaks to us all the time. The noise of a river or the noise of an avalanche creates concepts in our minds, besides the representation of those sounds. Brain connections are modified at two levels: first to reflect the stimuli of the noise, and then to reflect what we can infer from the noise. Our brain can learn at two levels: there is a noise in that direction, and it is a river (meaning, for example, water to drink). Stimuli modify connections both at the level of perception and at the level of concepts. Language exploits this simple fact.

(The same is true of cinema, but our bodies are not equipped with an organ to make images the way we are equipped with an organ to make sounds, and the invention of writing required a lot less technological knowledge than television or cinema. However, in the future we may end up carrying our portable image-maker so that we can show what happened in images instead of telling it in words).

Sound is not the only way to communicate. Movement can also communicate. Sound is a particular case of movement.

The environment is a symphony of sounds, smells, sights and movement. Language is but one of the instruments in this symphony.




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