“Consciousness” refers to several related phenomena, which is why people have such a difficult time agreeing on what it is.
Consciousness is our personal interior awareness. It combines various subjective, signifying phenomena such as perception and cognition which seem to recapitulate lower levels of sense awareness. The top level is really a meta-awareness of psychological meaning. It is directly (consciously) available to the subject herself in a teleological dialectic, which consists of voluntarily controlled activity and involuntarily interpreted sense which is received and projected.
This mental ‘conscious’ environment is presented to the subject as a multi-dimensional fugue of attention-driven phenomena. Idiopathic qualities, identities, and archetypes accompanied by natural language narratives and idiosyncratic expressions which are often socially exchanged and modified. Music, language, idioms, and other cultural memes are most common. These forms are anthropological, sociological, and psychological texts which do not correspond meaningfully to lower level neurological phenomena; that is, they cannot be deciphered strictly from neurological observation.
The word conscious, from conscire* reflects the experience of consciousness as an awareness of awareness. It takes a whole brain, all lobes and both hemispheres to experience this fully convincing immersive presentation. It’s what was known philosophically as the Cartesian Theater. This theater, with its phenomena of tangible qualia, I think is neither a fictional solipsistic simulation, nor a directly analogous representation of literal fact. Rather, it seems to be a multivalent fusion of fictive and translative elements – elaborations of metaphorically compressed sensorimotor understandings. I think that these interior sensorimotor gestalts may correspond to various shared electromagnetic connections among parts of the brain and nervous system
Within the top level of consciousness, we find metaphorical archetypes. Identities, personalities, presences, characters and stories, myth and fantasy. We can map the psychic terrain in basic terms. High and low correspond to our continuum of esteem and self identification as well as to neurological intensity. From the disgrace and humiliation dealt out to the rejected and unforgiven losers, to the praise and elevation of the high and mighty, the currency of the self is conducted through courtly enactments of generosity, reward, severity, and punishment. Elevated archetypes pass into superhuman realms. From celebrities, heroes, stars, kings, monarchs to divinity, deity to monotheistic supremacy. Themes of power and grace channeled through acts of courage, and mercy as well as shame, cruelty, vanity, and deceit. It’s a continuum, literally, of significance. The more significant a person is, in their own eyes and in the eyes of society, the more they embody the metaphorical qualities of the highest self and the more they are indulged with gratitude, humility, fealty, and tribute.
The elevated self typically spreads out and make itself at home, while causing lesser mortals to pick up the slack – pay attention (attend and tend relate etymologically to watchful, tense, tendon, tight, wound or spinning string. Nerve is etymologically related to tendon as well, a sense of both fibers and holding or stretching tight). The elevated self can therefore become stuck up, uptight, haughty (from M.E. haute “high in one’s own estimation”). This hypocrisy and exploitative self-absorption (narcissism) is projected to absolute heights in mythological archetypes. Deities and demigods are the ultimate royal gangsters – coupling juvenile rage with omnipotence, wield supreme executive authority over an exacting code of behavior and loyalty while placing themselves completely outside of their own values.
In the lower levels of consciousness, we can break down various awareness categories to neurological functions until we reach the common denominator in the neuron. Electromagnetic spikes, neurotransmitter concentrations etc. The neuron is a cell which conducts our every feeling and experience, but not as personal signifying subjects. The neurological-electromagnetic
The a-signifying neurological substrate has it’s own high and low level realms/ Stripped of it’s courtly significance and metaphor, what’s left is the literal up and down and large vs small. This is the extension of consciousness into the unconscious side of the body’s universe. The physiology of the body and it’s external environment constitutes the large and the up while the entire nano-quantum, molecular-genetic, cellular-biological microcosm (with the exception of the self) constitutes the ‘down’. We have no way of knowing whether this end of the universe is conscious, as it does not speak our language. It doesn’t know color, flavor, love or hate. It’s cold-calculating matter machine.
Where the self is teleological, this exterior cosmos is the opposite. It runs on teleonomy. Evolution. Inevitable cumulative consequences of probability. Crystalline factual logic devoid of ambiguity and fiction. We can access the soul of these realms only through detailed quantitative analysis based upon evidence – that is, by removing the presence and interpretations of consciousness to the extent that we can. This idea of making oneself as transparent as possible is not without precedent. Neurons themselves can be thought of as cells which function to conduct the sense of other cells (including that of the nervous system) without corrupting that sense with it’s own cellular process.
This is how sense works. It recapitulates and essentializes. It bridges gaps by simulating and anticipating, attending, watching, sensing. Sending out feelers, tendrils, antennas, and dendrites. Sense compresses and modulates signifying and a-signifying meanings and icons. It contains objects within subjects and subjects within objects. It puts the con in conscience by aggregating collective sense. Bacteria does it through quorum sensing:(), and I believe that atoms themselves do it too (we don’t know this yet so we assume photons are external things rather than photo telesemantics).
In this way, sense contributes to a cumulative holarchy of potential intelligibility. This is what consciousness is conscious of. Sense. In order to make sense of anything things have to make sense to begin with. The possibilities of sense are what consciousness and the cosmos are made of, while the contents of those realms – the experiences and materials, feelings and energies, are just pages in the recipe book.
*conscire: to be (mutually) aware,” from com- “with,” or “thoroughly” (see com-) + scire “to know” (see science)
Source – Quora