The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
Inquire about purchasing the book | Table of Contents | Annotated Bibliography | Class on Nature of Mind

These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

The Factory of Illusions

"Thought" is an entirely different game. "Mind" defined as the totality of thoughts is a far more elusive mystery. 

The mind is a factory of illusions. It creates an inner reality, as opposed to the outer reality of the world. We see colors and shapes, smell odors and perfumes, hear voices and sounds. We perceive the flowing of time. But the universe is made of particles and waves. The mind translates the world into sensations. Then it elaborates sensations to produce thoughts, memories, concepts, ideas. None of this is real. It is all one gigantic illusion. We will never even be sure whether anything exists at all. 

Then the mind creates consciousness, i.e. the awareness of feeling those sensations and, among them, the subjective sensation of existing.  May consciousness be the direct consequence of the existence of those illusions? Are all living beings equipped with sensory perception also endowed with consciousness?

Science needs crisp, reliable definitions, especially definitions of the objects it studies. Unfortunately, our mind is one of those things that we intuitively, “obviously” know, but, when we try to formalize, we realize we don’t know at all. The most common way to define the mind is to list cognitive faculties: the mind is something that is capable of learning, remembering, reasoning, etc. The truth is that, by doing so, we have only shifted level: we now have to define learning, remembering, reasoning, etc. The more scientific we try to be, the more we end up with definitions that are broader than we would want them to be. As we saw, many things (and certainly many biological systems) can be said to be capable of some form of learning, remembering, reasoning, etc. Crystals exhibit sophisticated processes of self-organization.

What is so special about the mind? It is not the cognitive faculties. It is the inner life. The mind is a factory of illusions, that translates this world of particles and waves into a world of colors, sounds and smells. And it is the illusion of all illusions: consciousness. Therein lies the secret of the mind.


Back to the beginning of the chapter "Mind and Matter" | Back to the index of all chapters