Consciousness is an illusion.
The fallacies that the unity "I" of language and culture represents the
whole being and functioning of the organism to which the pronoun is
attached, and "I" is able to understand and construct meaningful language,
coupled with the ability of areas of the brain to register sensation and
simulated sensation, make up the illusion of consciousness.
"I" is conceptual - it is not a causative agent- and only meaningful in
language driven cultural within the realm we have termed "consciousness".
Looking closely at what constitutes "consciousness" - the things of which
we are aware.- There is:
(1) Seeing or vision describes the ability to detect light and interpret
it as "sight".
(2) Hearing or audition is the sense of sound perception and results from
tiny hair fibres in the inner ear detecting the motion of atmospheric
particles within (at best) a range of 20 to 20000 Hz. Sound can also be
detected as vibration by tactition. Lower and higher frequencies than can
be heard are detected this way only.
(3) Taste or gustation is one of the two "chemical" senses. Smell or
olfaction is the other "chemical" sense.
(4) Tactition is the sense of pressure perception.
(5) Thermoception is the sense of heat and the absence of heat (cold).
(6) Nociception is the perception of pain. It can be classified as from
one to three senses, depending on the classification method. The three
types of pain receptors are cutaneous (skin), somatic (joints and bones)
and visceral (body organs).
(7) Equilibrioception is the perception of balance and is related to
cavities containing fluid in the inner ear.
(8) Proprioception is the perception of body awareness and is a sense that
people rely on enormously, yet are frequently not aware of.
Add to these senses, emotional feelings, the special auditory and visual
stimuli that constitute spoken and written language, an awareness of that
strange phenomena silent speech, dreams and imaginings, and that is the
limits of what we call "consciousness."
Our hearing and understanding of speech is not the decoding of the sounds
of language in the realm of "consciousness", any more than seeing is an
awareness of processes that give rise to it. We are only "conscious" of
the results of processing and not the processes themselves.
As "I" is conceptual, and only exists within the realm of "consciousness",
it has no access to any of the neural processes that produce sensations.
If "perception" is defined as "the process of organizing and interpreting
sensory information.", then all perception is unconscious. We are
not "conscious" of perception, only the effects of perception on sensation.
Turn off the sensations listed above, one by one, and when the last switch
is closed, "consciousness" disappears.
I view a span of "consciousness", as a continuum of externally and
internally generated, or internally simulated, processed sensations.
I, therefore, do not believe there is a hard question
concerning "consciousness", only a hard question concerning sensation: How
does the brain utilise diverse stimuli and manifest them as sensation.
This is my take on the use of "I" in scientific explanations:
I have found, during discussions of other phenomena, that some individuals
give explanations that would require direct access (as they would see it,
conscious access) to certain processing areas of the brain rather than
those areas that register the results of processing. Silent speech in the
brain is taken to be the act of thinking rather than the results of
thinking decoded into natural language.
The problem is that cultural language (everyday language as opposed to
scientific language) is the default language and, of necessity, it is
simplistic and relies on structure and context to convey ideas that in
scientific language would require lengthy qualification. When a farmer
says to his wife, " I pulled down that rotting oak tree this morning", she
does not challenge his statement as it is acceptable in a cultural
context. However, if the pulling down of the tree were witnessed and
described in the strictest long-winded terms, the report would indicate
that the human entity merely set in motion the machinery (a tractor)that
pulled down the tree.
The supposed entity "I", that delivers the results of the coding of
thinking to the page or to other "I"s, exists in the world of language
driven culture and does not represent the organismal processing machinery
of the brain.
Imagine the situation where one human entity says to another, "Shut the
back door", and the order is carried out. The human entity that closed the
back door could say, "I understood the instruction", and to an observer,
the actual shutting of the door confirms this.
Now a scenario inspired by Searle's Chinese Room:
There are two human entities represented by two windowless huts facing
each other with an individual at the front of each hut and two individuals
inside each hut.
One individual inside each hut only speaks and understands a unique code;
the second individual speaks and understands both code language and a
natural language. The individual at the front of the hut does not
understand code or natural language. The one who speaks and understands
both languages can whisper through a thin area of wall behind the
The hut A unit wants the hut B unit to open the back door of their hut.
The individual in front of hut A is heard to utter something, and
immediately the back door of hut B is opened.
The two individuals in each hut represent processing functions of the
brain and the individual outside each hut represents the aspect of the
units that functions in the natural world and the world of culture, the
From this it is possible to grasp that the "I" need not understand
language at all and merely parrots the noises (that constitute a natural
language) whispered from inside the hut.
In some discussions concerning the nature of consciousness, the word "I"
embraces the states of being a separate unity (an object) and acting as
the processing machinery of the unity, as is implied by the statement, "I
think". A tractor is an object but it is not a functioning part of the
tractor. The word "I" cannot represent both a whole entity and a
functioning part of an entity.