While familiar with the majority of people, consciousness is a trivial subject that only a few individuals can coherently explain. It is a fact that almost everyone knows what consciousness is. However, it gets interesting when one is asked to discuss the meaning of consciousness in understandable and comprehensible terms. Most people cannot seem to have the right words to define consciousness. It is in this context that this paper explores consciousness, giving it various psychological definitions and providing rationale on whether it is possible to give a materialistic account of the term.
As indicated in the introduction above, only a few smart individuals have clear definitions of consciousness. The subject has been a source of trivia and contention for brilliant minds since the times of the great philosophers like Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, to mention a few. Currently, many philosophers have put forward several postulations in an attempt to explain their understanding of consciousness. However, long before the theories of modern philosophers, the greatest philosophers of our time, especially Plato, had put forward a comprehensive explanation of consciousness.
Plato explained that for something to exist, it must be capable of creating the effect. In one of the recorded dialogues of the philosopher titled Sophist in 360 BC, Plato wrote of his position of anything that possesses effect over another. The philosopher explains that anything that possesses power over the other, even if for a single moment, has a real existence and the definition of being translating to power. Regardless of Plato's definition of consciousness and the neurological and rigorous scientific definitions of the 21st Century, Meanie Boly, a neurologist at UW's School of Medicine and Public health, asserts that the theory of consciousness can never be proved (Goldhill, 2016).
Unlike philosophers of the past who lacked the technology or numerous works of earlier experts to help them create rigorous and comprehensive theories of consciousness, today's philosophers have many advantages. For example, the majority of today's philosophical theories make sense due to the science of neurology. Many neurological expects are even proposing philosophical theories despite their background in medicine. Either way, the theories of today are quite articulated and defendable compared to the works of the forefathers of philosophy.
Today the most modern theories of consciousness are collaborative publications of philosophy and neuroscience. According to an article by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2018), conscious experience among humans is reliant on brain activity. In this regard, it is only understandable that neuroscience plays a significant and crucial role in the explanation of the theories first postulated by philosophers who lacked the technological apparatus to explain the subject.
Through neurological data and maps of the brain and charts on brain activity, neurologists may attempt to decipher philosophical theories by connecting various brain activities with the theories. In one of the recent theories of conscience, sharing both neurological and philosophical backgrounds is the Integrated Information Theory (IIT). Arguably the most comprehensive and elaborate theory of consciousness of the recent past, IIT originates from neurological and thought experiments leading to phenomenological axioms and ontological theories (Tononi, 2012). The data maxim declares that each experience is one out of many, for example, explicit - what will be by contrasting in its specific path from a massive collection of options.
The reconciliation saying affirms that each experience is one, for example, brought together it cannot be decreased to free segments. The prohibition adage attests that each experience is positive - it is restricted to specific things and not others and streams at a specific speed and goals. IIT formalizes these instincts with three proposes. The data hypothesize states that solitary "contrasts that have any effect" from the inborn point of view of a framework matter: an instrument produces cause-impact data if its present state has specific antecedent causes and explicit future impacts inside a framework. The joining proposes states that solitary data that are unchangeable issues: instruments produce incorporated data just to the degree that the data they create cannot be apportioned into that created inside free segments.
The prohibition proposes states that just maxima of coordinated data matter: an instrument indicates just a single maximally final arrangement of past causes and future impacts - an idea. A complex is many components determining a maximally final heavenly body of ideas, where the most extreme is assessed at the ideal patio-worldly scale. Its ideas determine a maximally coordinated applied data structure or quale, which is indistinguishable with an encounter. Finally, changes in data incorporation upon introduction to the earth mirror a framework's capacity to coordinate the causal structure of the world.
According to neuroscientist Giulion Tononi (2012), the theorists behind IIT, for consciousness to exist, it must have "cause-effect" power on itself. Inference into this definition brings out the objective nature of the concept, thus disregarding the subjective definition that is familiar to most people where consciousness is a subjective element of human thought. From a subjective perspective, one can define consciousness as an individual's ability or power of self-awareness digressing from the main argument of this essay, which intends to establish the materialistic account of the notion.
Apart from the theories explained above, there also exist several notable publications on the decoding of the concept of consciousness. In her article, Decoding of Consciousness, Emily Sohn discusses modern postulations regarding the field of neuroscience and its contributions to understanding the concept of consciousness. In the article, Sohn (2019), reiterates Melvyn Goodale's work and its contribution to neuroscience and its subsequent contribution to the understanding of consciousness. Decoding of Consciousness features explorations of new brain activity-measuring techniques, and how they have contributed to scientific as well as a philosophical understanding of the subject of discussion.
Consistently, a vast number of individuals in the United States become cognizant while under general anesthesia. They cannot move or talk. However, they may have the option to hear voices or gear commotions and to feel torment. The experience can be horrible and is full of moral and legitimate consequences for specialists who are thinking about them (Goldhill, 2016). A few researchers are attempting to advance rules for speaking with lethargic patients, just as methods for searching for indications of distress in such individuals. Furthermore, they are asking the advancement of improved preparing and laws to manage the likelihood that elective methods for identifying cognizance will adjust the meaning of educated assent for restorative methodology.
Specialists are likewise beginning to push for better correspondence with people in general about what cognizance science can and cannot accomplish. Michel says that claims that are unsupported by exact information have multiplied in awareness look into. One, specifically, called coordinated data hypothesis, has gotten a lot of private financing and media consideration, even though it has been expelled by him and different specialists in the field. In a casual overview of 249 specialists in 2018, Michel et al. (2018), found that around 22% of the individuals who had not distributed papers or went to significant gatherings on awareness - and were in this way regarded to be non-specialists - confided in incorporated data hypothesis.
Michel et al. (2018) suspects that a 'master impact' could be to be faulted, with non-specialists believing that unpredictable and darken explanations made by wise individuals who venture authority are bound to be valid than more straightforward thoughts. "It might be said, the obvious multifaceted nature of the hypothesis is utilized as an intermediary for its likelihood of being valid," Michel et al. (2018), say, "They do not generally get it, yet they come to accept that if they got it, they would probably think about it as the correct hypothesis of cognizance."
Conclusively, it is evident in contrast to common belief; the concept of consciousness is a dynamic, deep, and complex area of both science and philosophy. While at first, it may seem like a straightforward concept, it is quite complicated, mainly if undertaken from an objective perspective. Cognizance alludes to your individual attention to your novel musings, recollections, sentiments, sensations, and condition. Your cognizance is your attention to yourself and your general surroundings. This mindfulness is abstract and remarkable to you. From the discussion above, consciousness is the concept of self -awareness possessing or the possession of the power of knowledge of one's existence. The evidence above also illustrates that, indeed, consciousness can be given a materialistic account of the notion.
Goldhill, O. (2016, June 18). 2,300 years later, Plato's theory of consciousness is being backed up by neuroscience. Retrieved from https://qz.com/709969/2300-years-later-platos-theory-of-consciousness-is-being-backed-up-by-neuroscience/
Michel, M., Fleming, S. M., Lau, H., Lee, A. L., Martinez-Conde, S., Passingham, R. E., ... & Liu, K. (2018). An informal internet survey on the current state of consciousness science. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 2134.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2018, October 9). The Neuroscience of Consciousness (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness-neuroscience/
Tononi, G. (2012). The integrated information theory of consciousness: an updated account. Archives italiennes de biologie, 150(2/3), 56-90.
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