The consciousness illusion


What if the consciousness is created by the brain to keep track on our daily activities? A question to shake the traditional concept of consciousness inherited by the 17th century French philosopher Rene Descartes. Keith Frankish, the author of this article posted below, takes a round on neuroscience analysis on the phenomenal consciousness.

He takes an example of looking at an apple. The visual perception stimulates sensory reactions in our brain that enhances our understanding or action on the apple: the colour of it, how to eat it, what to do with it etc.. These neuronal reactions, known as consciousness, are created by the brain to tackle down our activity with the apple.

In other words, consiousness is pretty much compared to the pill taken by Neo in the movie The Matrix. A different pill would give a different experience. Meaning, a different perception would give a different “consciousness”, or different neuronal stimuli in a neuroscientific jargon and analysis.

Frankish adds to the neuroscientific observation, the idea of perception and its effect on thinking which we can see in Hume’s empiricist philosophy and in Berkeley’s immaterialism. Our story is a narrative speculation of our consciousness that is affected by perceptions. Frankish article below is very compelling:


22 thoughts on “The consciousness illusion”

  1. Thank you for boiling down this article. I’m going to reread it again a few times.
    What struck me is the argument that all sensory input is subjective because it is processed by biological functions of our unique systems and then categorized against the unique experiences of our lives.
    Now, I’m biased in this opinion, as it is part of my ongoing school research, but perhaps that partially proves the point.

    Maybe the chemistry-biology of perception is a poor basis from which to understand how and what we perceive.

    I’m retreading Terry Barrett’s “Why Is That Art?” Following a recent workshop he gave at Concordia U. The great conclusion was that there is no one answer to this question. Definition is far less important that inquiry, reflections, and continued questioning.

    In conjunction with Maylynn’s post and the article that stimulated it, perhaps what we are seeing is the emergence of a new perception for the purpose of the human brain… that the human brain isn’t a process and catalogue mechanism, rather it is a constant inquiry mechanism.

    My mind is reeling. How does this relate to manifestation theories, spirituality, quantum physics, Law of attraction, etc…

    What a fun contemplation for my weekend. Thank you, Maylynn.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What if consciousness is not created by the brain at all? A television does not create the information it displays. A computer only allows access to the internet, it does not create it. What if consciousness is all there is, and everything is made of consciousness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Incognito by David Eagleman is a really fun book on this subject.
    I subscribe to the Sir Roger Penrose Orch Or model where the brain is a mixed classic computing quantum hybrid system.
    My interest lately relates to much of what’s in this related to Jungian Depth Psychology. Dreams being the raw form of memory consolidation.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you have a post about it but I haven’t read it.

        Jung was smeared in his day and that’s understandable due to era, social climate, the conflicts in science; his way of communicating didn’t help. But things are catching up to him; this link covers a lot of it. Jung studied dreams, so if a person was struggling, they’d study them. Memory, in a sense, consolidates. Say, someone choked on a red delicious as a kid but doesn’t remember it, red colored things may show up in dreams as something they’re afraid of. If a person is afraid of driving they may see a red car. If they’re having stability fears, red car may crash into their home.
        It’s interesting. Incognito is more along the lines of what philosophically fits with where neuroscience is and that consciousness is overrated. “What does it do?” Not much.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ” The Powerful Feelings of Consciousness and self, is just a name we have given to the mental sensations we feel of a 100 billion neurons sending electrical chemical impulses back and forth in our brain.” — Alan Lightman.

    Though his description has most likely been simplified for the average reader, for me, it says it all. Can consciousness simply be a result of a highly attuned and neuron based functioning brain? In support, if you turn off enough firing neurons in your brain (or their connections) you turn off your consciousness! Perhaps we are getting too needy in our search for explaining our consciousness? Maybe its simply a result of our working brain.

    From our brain comes everything! Emotion, perspectives, our beliefs and the sense of self, all part of our conscious being. Yet still, all results of our brain’s neuron activity. As the great fictional Sherlock Holmes once said — ‘I am a brain Watson, the rest of me is a mere appendix.” I most enjoyed your post topic today maylynno, it was full of food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What if consciousness just is. And the apple perceived just is. And there is maybe some reflection in the brain of all this ‘isness’? i.e. what is in the brain is just an effect, not a cause.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. How can there be any from? It just ‘is’! I suggest it’s just as plausible as the materialistic alternative. And maybe we can include God in this model, which is a bit tricky for materialism.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Even the criminal mind veils the true consciousness, there’s always the possibility of redemption, which I think was the message of Christ?
        Not that I ‘m wedded to the Christian doctrine, but a lot of it seems very plausible and psychologically valid.

        Liked by 1 person

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