October 28, 2009
Well, I’ve run into some unexpected difficulty getting my hands on a certain article, so the article I wanted to post yesterday is going to have to wait some more. This afternoon I’d just like to offer the following to see how people of varying worldviews react, and if anybody can add anything or make any other valuable suggestions.
A few posts back I took a stab at defining consciousness:
While I hesitate to speculate on what consciousness is, I feel fairly confident in asserting what consciousness does, or what its characteristics are: consciousness affords the abilities to feel, to know, to create, to express intent and to choose. Consciousness also affords the ability to manipulate objective matter via choice…
Something elemental, like wind, can certainly manipulate objective matter, yet it presumably does so independent of any choice or consciousness. For what it’s worth, I’m currently unsure to what extent I’d claim that consciousness is analogous to soul / spirit, but I believe that regardless of the distinction, any demonstration that consciousness is anything else besides a mere product of neural transactions has [the conventional cerebro-centric view of consciousness] dead in the water.
The definition is not without problems, but not a terrible start either, and here’s an interesting observation I made along the way: among the Unmoved Mover’s logically required qualities we find the ability to manipulate matter via pure intent alone. If the Unmoved Mover is pure act, or pure consciousness, then it is not physical, yet commanded or informed that which is physical.
Interestingly, Genesis says we are “in God’s image,” and in a most straightforward and almost tautological way, human beings actually do move matter purely by applying intent. We use raw intent to initiate the matter that is our own bodies. By pure thought alone, we can move our arms. While it’s true we also use muscles and nerves and brains, raw intent is still the first step in the causal chain. People can and will argue as to whether that intent is something more like free will vs. something more like an uncontrolled algorithm, but as far as humans are concerned, manipulation of physical matter always begins in the mind. Provided we’re still talking about the manipulation of matter vs. the creation of matter, this is the same ability the Unmoved Mover would need, and it becomes interesting to observe that we see something similar albeit drastically less impressive amongst our own kind.
In light of the offered definition, I’m interested in answers to the following questions: how would you suggest we might go about testing for immaterial consciousness? If something like ghosts or spirits do exist, what sort of phenomena might we logically expect to accompany their presence? What sort of criteria might we use to ascertain the potential existence of immaterial consciousness? When would a person be justified in offering an immaterial consciousness of some sort as a plausible explanation to a set of phenomena?
Answers to these questions seem integral to any fruitful discussion of the matter.