Sunday, March 20, 2011

OTI post #3 - Consciousness is conscious

I'd previously started with material on context and method, and figured out how to arrive at existence exists from observation. Now to move on to consciousness. Again, this is probably longer than it needs to be, but it's done.

1.3 Consciousness is conscious

The next thing that Rand said followed was the identification that “consciousness is conscious”. Dr Peikoff notes in Understanding Objectivism that it is not strictly necessary that this be second, because identity could be second and that the axiom of consciousness could come third instead. However, it comes second because identification of identity is a specific item of knowledge that consciousness identifies as part of identifying that existence exists.

The further point in going for consciousness second is that metaphysics and epistemology are , at least in the early stages of the latter, hierarchically simultaneous. This makes sense. The admixture of metaphysics and epistemology was already visible in the discussion of sources of contrast for being qua being, and, going broader than that, the context of this work includes recognising that consciousness works by being based on processes of differentiation and integration, along with specifics such as difference and agreement. This is reason enough to pick consciousness second, whatever other additional reasons there may be.

Basic meaning
The statement “consciousness is conscious” means that there is a particular faculty and it is characterised by it being one of awareness. Other than underlining my recognition of myself, it does not state how many consciousnesses there are or the particular means by which awareness is achieved. All it states is the fact that it exists and it is capable of awareness. I have the capacity to know that something exists. This fact of knowing is a fact of me being conscious of something, and the part of me doing this knowing (for there is more to me than just this capacity to know things) is my consciousness.

Again, though, both concepts are highly abstract. But, unlike for “exist” and “existence”, after much thinking I don’t think it is necessary to comprehend (or even have heard) the word “conscious” in order to understand “consciousness.” Each can be held independently, where the other is held as a derivative from it. What is etymologically true is beside the point - it only matters that there is this faculty and that there is a name for it. Etymology, at least in general, is not a significant concern to me.

Reduction of the concepts
I had originally thought about reducing each concept individually, and had settled on starting with “conscious” because of the suspicion that the pattern that had to be followed for “existence” and “exists” might also have to be followed here. Now, though, I see that the suspicion was misplaced and that there’s more to this than just reducing those two concepts. In terms of philosophic analysis and exposition, consciousness is a far more complex phenomenon than existence, where the complexities of existence are instead what the special sciences deal with.

For “consciousness is conscious” there is actually a number of different paths of reduction to follow before the meaning of these words can be fully comprehended. I will of course rest on the material for existence in order to deal with “is,” and needn’t reiterate that. That leaves the phenomena of consciousness and being conscious themselves, then the process of justifying connection with “is.” Here is a substantial (yet not comprehensive) list:

Concepts of the entity: consciousness (ultimate), mind, inside your/my head, heart, soul, memory, faculty, mind’s eye, mind’s ear, imagination

Concepts of quality of state: conscious (ultimate), conscious (medical), unconscious, awake, asleep, alert, aware, observant, oblivious, dozy

Concepts of reference: I, me, you, he, she, we, us, they, them, all the possessive-case variants of these, and all the reflexive variants of these

Concepts of attributes: smart, dumb, quick, slow, forgetful

Concepts of direct actions: focus, concentrate, drift, evade, fantasize, muse, speculate, contemplate, comprehend, ponder, judge, calculate, evaluate, choose, decide, express, and bodily actions, concepts of pleasing and hurting

Concepts of more passive actions: know, think, believe, hold, see (mentally), feel (emotionally), the five sensations and their individual concepts (bright, loud, stinky, sweet, sharp, etc), pleasures and pains as experiences

Concepts of content: knowledge, thoughts, perceptions, conceptions, comprehensions, understandings, judgements, feelings and individual concepts thereof, values, goals, aims, purposes, standards

The express recognition of actual consciousness itself begins with the first personal observation of oneself in the process of learning, of knowing that one had forgotten things, of trying one’s best to remember, and succeeding. This also presumes the first beginnings of knowing how to speak so as to be communicated with and hence able to tested on what one is expected to have learned, be those tests formal (ie actual tests of learning itself without knowledge of the use of that learning) or informal (impromptu tests when one is asked if one remembers something that had to be remembered for the purposes itself, such as dress technique or brushing teeth).

Yet that is still not the beginning, because the fund of experiences necessary to get to that stage starts being acquired well before the first attempts at speaking are made. The root of concepts of consciousness is activities relating to consciousness dealing with existence itself, where learning to speak is only one means of such dealings with existence. Long before a child is capable of speaking there is his basic discovery that he is able to act at all. The root of the discovery of consciousness lies in his very first deliberate actions of any kind, which at their most basic are movement of one’s limbs, fingers, head, eyes, and even just the eyelids. These are the ultimate raw data leading to the discovery of the existence of the “I”, consisting of one’s body and one’s mind. And that, the first deliberate action, even if as simple as experimenting with eyelid movement or flexing fingers, is the perceptual level for concepts of consciousness. Actions deeper than that are automated physiological actions and outside the province of conscious behaviour (though there can be some retaking of control over a few of them, later).

Reconstructing the two concepts
Again, unlike for the existence concepts, I don’t think there is a set progression of one concept to the other. I think it possible that a child could understand either word first and then the other, or could learn the full meaning of only one (and either one at that) and not recognise the full meaning of the other at all.

Separation of consciousness and existence through differentiation
Every single state of awareness has two classes of components: the object of consciousness and the subject of consciousness. Prior to the express discovery of consciousness, only bits of content in the world around him can be the object of his consciousness. The subject of consciousness - ie his consciousness itself - provides the format of that awareness and can only be learned of after a great variety of objects and formats of awareness are observed and which allow him to abstract the actions of his consciousness from what he is observing.

Again, concepts require differentiation and integration. In this case what is necessary primarily is separation of the object of awareness from the subject exercising the processes of awareness, and integrating multiple examples of this to identify the fact of there being a subject and processes of awareness. The contrast to consciousness is non-consciousness, though what this latter consists of is considerably varied. And before he can get to that, he has to build up a fund of pre-conceptual experiences that will serve as material for future integration. Note, then, that the following is not meant to be taken as a linear development on a single path, but describes a variety of lines of development that run in parallel. Some start later than others, but once they’ve become operative they are generally concurrent processes.

The beginnings of self-awareness
The start of the discovery of consciousness is that the child must first be capable of deliberation and then acting externally on the basis of that deliberation. This deliberation cannot be and does not have to be a linguistic determination. It is required only that the action he performs in his mind is the choice to exercise mental focus on something and then to will the actions of his body as a consequence. When he first starts doing this, just a few weeks or months into life, it is his beginnings of his active investigation of existence, with him at the epistemological centre of his investigation. He has also begun to practice goal-directed behaviour at the conscious level.

His initial development will be physically-oriented and perceptual level, with discoveries being incorporated into that which is taken for granted. For instance, he sees objects and tries to reach for them, taking completely for granted that they are there. Likewise, the existence of existents that are peripheral to his investigation, such as the horizontal bars of his crib that he uses for support when standing, are also totally taken for granted once he accepts that they are there. But this is all so implicit and primitive (by adult standards) that almost nobody can remember this far back in life - the explicit identification of such “therenesses” is a later achievement, as already described. The focus at the moment is the fact that he is picking, choosing, focussing, and actively trying to comprehend.

Still, at this stage of life - and in combination with the notoriously short attention-span of children - the experiences will be too chaotic and too incredibly new for any investigation to be systematic. Rather, when he starts doing one thing he will be flooded with sensory data from a bewildering array of sources. In the course of any action he undertakes he finds that there are consequences of those actions besides those directly related to what he was investigating by those actions, which consequences are often as interesting and worthy of investigation as what he was initially intent upon. For instance, he lifts his hand to reach for an object hanging from the mobile above his crib (which we know to be a piece of plastic in the shape of say a horse) and find that when his hand falls back down it hits the crib-bars or his blanket or mattress, which then suddenly gives him sensations he’s not noticed before. He may then focus his attention on that suddenness, and investigate it by varying the energy he puts into touching or hitting things, and begins to build up a picture of his sense of touch, which likewise gives him more unexpected experiences to take in. With countless examples like this, in part it increases his awareness of things in the world around him to investigate both in terms of existence and their nature, but what is also happening his the growing awareness of the fact of sensation and perception itself, which will continue to be a topic of investigation in its own right for a long time.

He also finds he is frustrated by his own physical limitations, such as how he cannot reach that hanging shape despite his efforts. With enough experiences of this nature he can integrate the fact that he is a being of a definite physical nature. Adding to this is that in time he discovers that his capacities can be improved, which awareness he can get from his own improvement and also from being examined by others and seeing his progress tracked (eg the classic height-and-age marks on walls etc). Another component of this is improvement in his ability to figure out techniques of dealing with his limitations and so overcome what frustrates him. For instance, there was a video doing the email rounds showing that a toddler figured out how to circumvent a child-barrier security gate by first tossing a big pillow on the other side and then hauling himself over the gate to fall onto that pillow, clearly acting in the knowledge that without the pillow he’d be hurt when he landed. Such a child is well on his way to self-awareness. (One can also easily imagine the parents filming this would have both felt pride and annoyance - pride that their son used his mind to find a solution to a problem, and annoyed because now they would have to be extra vigilant and update their security measures to keep their boy safe!)

These are the first of all the referents that are eventually integrated into his awareness of his own physical self as a whole and its capacity for development. And, in time, experiences are no longer all sui generis, for sooner or later he will come across the same experiences under the same conditions again and again. By means of rudimentary versions of the methods of difference and agreement, through differentiation and integration at the perceptual level, he can begin to extract sense from the chaos. His world stops being quite so bewildering (this is part of his taking ever more things for granted), and when he does have new experiences they are often integrable with what he has already experienced before. In conjunction with his increased physical strength, mobility, and ingenuity, he is on his way to having a basis on which to become much more adventurous and able to comprehend more. In time this will include the complete recognition of his “I.”

The first identification of “I”
After gaining better control of his body and after being exposed to other people speaking (particularly his parents and their active encouragement of this), he now begins to become interested in speaking himself. The first word he speaks is almost always “Mum” (or its equivalent in other cultures and languages), for the simple reason that she is a great value to him, where, after first following her cues to make the sound without knowing its importance, he realises that the sound she teaches him to make has the effect of getting her attention in his favour. Soon enough he begins to understand what that word means: it is a reference to her. And from there on, too, both for revelling in his own understanding and enjoying the encouragement of his parents, he begins to learn not just words that are references and names for particular people etc but words that symbolise concepts. Those processes are discussed way later.

During the time he is learning to speak, one set of concepts he is taught early on is the names for parts of his body. He learns he has fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet, legs, a stomach, a chest, a throat, a head, and so on. As previously described, he has already been perceptually investigating some of this, but here his awareness of self is now beginning to be conceptual level. In this case, he will have already been consciously examining himself and testing out his physical abilities, such as flexing his fingers, moving his arms, wiggling his toes, moving his legs, moving his head and eyes, all just to identify the fact that he can do these things and to identify the range of motions available to him. These will have been developed at the perceptual level and taken for granted very early on (note that nobody can remember much at all this far back), while now he is having explicit attention drawn to them again but this time on the conceptual level, which is more memorable and will make its contribution to self-identification.

What is also important in this self-rediscovery is that he learns he has things he can touch with, has a nose to smell with, ears to hear with, eyes to see with, and a tongue to taste with. These contribute not simply to self-awareness, but of awareness of his means of awareness, which can be integrated with physical self-awareness into a complete awareness of self by his means of awareness being vital elements in his whole system of means of interaction with reality.

After a while of teaching by his parents and his observation of and thought about others’ talk in general, he becomes able to form and understand the simplest sentences. To get onto the part of discovery of consciousness, though, these must begin to include his use of those that contain the words “I” and “me,” helped along with concepts for other personal experiences and rudimentary value judgements, for which the pre-conceptual data discussed above are vital referents.

Here the contrast required to identify the express concept “I” is straight-forward. He sees that others use the word “I” and use it to refer to themselves, to which the contrast is other people referring to those same people but with different words. For example his mum can say “I am wearing a hat!” while she points to herself then the hat, followed by his dad saying “Mum is wearing a hat!” while pointing to her and her hat. Then his dad can say “I am wearing glasses!” and he points to himself then his glasses, and then she says “Dad is wearing glasses!”, and points to him and then his glasses. Then his mother can get the child to point to himself and to say “I”, and then to get him to point to his sandals and to say “am wearing sandals!” The child can also see countless examples of using “I” in all manner of other contexts other than deliberately set-up teaching moments like that. The contrast is then against second and third party references: “you,” “they,” “he,” “she.”

His conceptual-level awareness of physical self is further aided by him learning the concepts for actions he undertakes. Again, he had already been doing many of these actions where the point is conceptualisation. Now he knows explicitly that he can reach, walk, get up, fall down, lie down, roll over, run, trip up, and so on. In line with that he learns equally conceptually that he can get hurt in various ways, such as bang into things, get scrapes or splinters or cuts, touch things that are too hot, and so on.

As the child develops in linguistic prowess this includes the words “am” and “me” in his sentences. Thus at some point the child is capable of using basic sentences describing his own actions or experiences: “I saw a pretty cloud,” “I’m hungry,” “He kicked me in the legs!” “It wasn’t me running in the hall!” Likewise, he can also start using the words for sensory-perceptions, with the focus now being express reference to his experiencing them: “I see some clouds” “I hear Rex barking outside” “I smell bacon cooking” “I feel something heavy in my bag” “I can taste lemon in the water”.

With that, he possesses the root concept of “I” and can successfully use it in sentences, though his understanding of “I” is still nowhere near complete because his use of “I” is as still perceptual-level and mostly physically oriented.

The first concepts of actions and content of consciousness
A little while after beginning to form sentences and then using the word “I”, he starts learning the first concepts of content of consciousness. These are words such as know, forgot, want, and like, which he can put in I-centred sentences: “I know my ABC’s!” “I don’t know where her doll is!” “I forgot my mittens, but I remembered my boots.” He is already clear on his physical “I”, so the word is no floating abstraction, but now he is gathering the referents for his mental “I.”

It is once he has these words down pat, through integration from a sufficient variety of instances as per all learning of concepts, he can focus on the concepts deliberately and connect them to himself. This enables him to identify his first express mental contrasts, through the process of learning or discovering things that he hadn’t prior known about. For example, in instance after instance he identifies that previously he didn’t know things and that afterwards he did know things. Also, fuel for this identification would be where other people ask him questions and he doesn’t know the answer. At some point after this gathering up of referents he begins to draw the express contrast of knowing versus not knowing. He can eventually say to himself: “I can know stuff” and “There is stuff I don’t know.”

This kind of contrast and its repeated instances can lead to integrations of the other founding concepts of consciousness. In these cases, he is eventually able to say “I can think stuff” contrasted with “Sometimes I can’t think of stuff”, to say “I can feel stuff” contrasted with “Sometimes I don’t feel anything” and so on.

I think a crucial part of recognition of consciousness lies also in recognition of degrees of awareness and degrees of ability to become knowledgeable about things. He then comes to learn of concepts such as smart or stupid, and so on. As part of that, as uncomfortable as it is, it is inevitable that he will eventually be involved to some degree in personal attacks where he is sometimes the offender, sometimes the victim, and sometimes just an observer of these attacks. Thus there are attacks for being dumb and also attacks for being smart, which, for better or worse in terms of the concretes of the moment that he automatises, do give him referents to a variety of concepts of consciousness.

With that, he can identify the fact that he has knowledge, thoughts, abilities, feelings, preferences, desires, and some degree of intelligence, and also that the same applies to others too, all of which identifications are more data for the formation of the concepts of consciousness and to be conscious.

The development of express valuation
He also develops his first deliberate likes and dislikes during this. This typically begins with foods, because of being regularly fed from day one and being exposed to an increasing variety as his capacity to eat advances. There had always been basic pleasurable or displeasurable tastes to what he smelled and ate, but now he is recognising the association of those tastes and smells with what causes them and acting upon the knowledge of those associations. Soon enough he is favouring some foods more than others, including rejecting foods outright deliberately because he now knows in advance of eating what has just been offered to him doesn’t taste good to him. In time his range of preferences also encompasses things like clothing, games, organised sports, music or other artistic classes, and so on.

In addition to this his capacity to understand emotions grows, too, which further enriches his capacity to identify and express value judgements. At some point he can learn the concepts for individual emotional states, such as angry or happy or sad, which can only be fully comprehended by his recognition of his own experience of them.

All this develops in line with his experiences and also his acquisition of the requisite words and concepts: like, dislike, hate, want, don’t want, and so on, plus the concepts for the concrete things for which he has these likes and dislikes. The result is his ability to express statements such as: “I don’t like tomatoes.” “Soccer is fun!” and “I don’t want to go to kindy, I want to stay home with you!”

An important element in this express identification of preferences and desires is him being offered express choices. For example, what kind of lollies or flavour of ice-cream does he want for being a good boy? Here he is not just having reactions after the fact but is being asked to make judgements consciously before the fact. In addition to his first formal introduction to the express fact of his capacity to choose, this also sets the stage for his verbal expression of likes and dislikes as such independent of actual pursuit or immediately prior experience of concretes. For instance, he can be asked to state what kind of foods he likes in some class at kindy or school, not as a prelude to being given them but as an academic exercise. With exposure to this exercise of judgement and choice, as well as being material for other inductions later, he is building up referents for him as a maker of value-judgements, which is a critical aspect of human consciousness and which he must identify if he is to understand “consciousness” fully.

Awareness of truth versus untruth
Another parallel line of development is his recognition of the contrast between the true and the untrue. He learns that a statement is true if it corresponds to what is actual, and that a statement is untrue if it contradicts it. The contrast here is not just that which enables him to learn those concepts, but also that the exposure to both teaches him of the distinction of reality itself versus statements allegedly about reality.

Recognition of the distinction between that which is said and that which is actual is a significant milestone. It is a point at which the notion of doubt can begin to be formed, because he will be exposed to people saying one thing and discovering that something else is in fact the case. But this can either be a good thing or a bad thing. It can be good if it is material that leads him to begin taking care in what he thinks, and it can be bad if he finds his confidence broken and he mentally retreats from the world. Though others can help or hinder, in the end how he responds to his discovery of doubt is up to him.

Moreover, this recognition is also the first exposure to particulars leading to formation of the concept of morality, via his own actual experiences of truth versus lies and of justice versus malice. He begins to realise that sometimes he is misled by others, not that they are only mistaken, and that he likewise has a capacity to mislead others. His sister may have told him a lie which he later finds out about. In turn, he may, despite his protestation to the contrary, know very well where his sister’s doll is, which he is not telling about because he may have hidden it or damaged it in revenge (or because he just wants to make her upset out of malice), and so on.

With experiences like these, and with sufficient exposure to concepts such as “mistake,” “truth,” and “lie,” he comes to realise that there is such a thing as products and contents of consciousness as distinct from products and contents of existence. His discovery of this is a major step towards full identification of consciousness itself.

Contrasts in awareness
One of the means by which he came to discover what to exist meant was in abstraction from instances of recognition of presence. Knowledge of the capacity for awareness can come from re-examining these instances and noticing the fact of the recognition itself rather than the presences so recognised. This of course must come after a number of such instances, and because of the emotions surrounding all these instances would require both a degree of emotional maturity and a degree of detachment exercised at the time of re-examination, which are possible only to older children and above. This will also integrate with his more generalised understanding of his capacity to know things, but with a focus on him explicitly recognising the physical acts themselves and expanding his concept of knowing accordingly.

The recognition of the difference between being awake and being asleep is another critical contrast. The first introduction to this contrast is in recognising himself being sleepy and nodding off, how fuzzy it gets before he falls asleep, and how can’t remember either falling asleep or waking up again and sometimes wondering how on earth he got where he is (ie that his parents moved him from the lounge or out of the car, etc). Another means of gathering instances is of him being woken up and wanting to go back to sleep despite others not letting him. Adding to the list of referents for this is observing the same in others, including non-humans such as pets or the animals shown on TV or seen in a zoo or in the wild or wherever else. Soon enough, he learns what the words “sleep” and “awake” mean, along with their respective variants. “Nooooo, no kindy, I’m sleeping!” he says, burying himself in his bed-sheets, not untypically in the morning after a night in which he threw a tantrum because he wanted to stay up.

More advanced still, but with much less likelihood, he could also become aware at this early age of the distinction between being conscious and being unconscious. Given the nature of this, all instances of these are apt to be emotionally charged, particularly if it is a loved one who has gone unconscious or has regained consciousness. Depending on his circumstances and events he becomes aware of, and how the grown-ups around him during these times treat his questions about what is going on and what the words they are using mean, experiences like these could also be his first exposure to the words “conscious” and “consciousness” themselves.

Powers of imagination and will
Another datum is during learning to read. More specifically, this is about learning to read quietly. This is a feat that was a long-time coming, where until it was learned people had to read out loud when reading even by themselves. Kids today still start out by such vocalised reading. It was, and today still is, an achievement to control the inside of one’s mind and read silently, using only one’s mind’s voice to sort-of convert the visual words to sounds. In time, this also leads to recognition of full over one’s mind’s voice, not just in reading.

Another datum again, of a similar nature, is recognition of and control over the mind’s eye. This is where one can imagine seeing something, be that something completely new or as an alteration to what is actually before one’s eyes.

Both of these are perceptual-level experiences, but recognition of them for what they are is a vital part of properly identifying consciousness. It is not just that there is a further recognition of the distinction between products of consciousness and reality, but that this is material for recognition of his power to control what goes on inside his head.

It isn’t just mental, either. Another line of development is in development of physical skills that the child knows have to be developed, through practice that incorporates exercise of will. This ranges all the way from dressing (eg practicing tying his shoelaces) to handwriting (an obsession with parents and teachers!) to sports and playing musical instruments and so on.

The express realisation of the possession of powers of control over mind and body, both in terms of that they are powerful and also that they are limited, effectively means he now has the actual notions of consciousness and of being conscious. What is left is acquisition of knowledge of the concepts-proper.

Arriving at the two concepts
All the above concepts are formed through differentiation and integration, just the same as any other concepts. The child knows that once upon a time he didn’t know his ABC’s and then he did, that once he didn’t know his 123’s and then he did, and so becomes capable of knowing what the word “know” means. The same process is followed for all the other concepts.

At this point the child has some unworded notion of him having a consciousness and being able to be conscious, and also that others have consciousness and are able to be conscious. All it takes is to hear the words. But, again, I don’t think there is a definite order of learning consciousness or conscious first. At some point enough data will have been obtained allowing the child to draw the conclusion that he has a mind, which in time he learns is called his consciousness and that he is able to be conscious both of the world at large and the content of his own mind.

For instance, without the child knowing either word, his father might introduce him to the original Star Trek movie, which has line that note that V-Ger was programmed to “learn all that is learnable” and that it “amassed so much knowledge that it achieved consciousness itself.” A child capable of handling watching that movie would know what the words “learn” and “knowledge” mean, but it could be that this movie is the first time he hears the word “consciousness.” The concept can then be explained to him by his father, who states simply that his own consciousness is his mind, in his ability to learn stuff, know stuff, remember stuff, imagine stuff, pick and choose what he likes and dislikes, what he does and how he does it, and so on. The father then points out that both he (the boy) and himself (the father) have consciousnesses, that Admiral Kirk and Captain Dekker and Mr Spock have consciousnesses, and that the scene here is that they are discovering that a machine has managed to get a consciousness too but doesn’t know what to do with it yet! (Cue the father’s prepping for the “V-Ger is a child” line.) Knowledge of the word “conscious” is not necessary for this learning of what “consciousness” is.

Similarly, a child might have parents in the medical field and so he may hear the word “conscious” repeatedly long before hearing the word “consciousness.” Tying in with his knowledge of awake and asleep, and also of out cold, he could then figure out what the medical meaning of to be conscious is. He can then ask what this word “conscious” means, whereupon with good guidance he can come to know what conscious in the general non-medical sense is. Again, the material for this integration is the above, with this time the focus being on the actions themselves: knowing, learning, remembering, forgetting, being aware or ignorant, and so on. The parents can explain “conscious” as that someone is fully awake and alert, actually able to be aware of stuff, to learn stuff, to talk about stuff he remembers or can’t remember, to make decisions and choices again, and so on. Knowledge of the word “consciousness” is not necessary for this learning of what to be “conscious” is. If he is unlucky he will have to figure out the non-medical meaning by himself through exposure to non-medical use of the term.

And with that I am satisfied with identifying what the words “consciousness” and “conscious” mean.

Reconstructing “consciousness is conscious”
As with existence, the meaning of the full statement is not merely obtained by slapping the words together, but must be obtained through integration of instances. In this case it would consist of him asserting the existence or operation of his consciousness in relation to particular items of content.

Basic statements that can lead to the full statement include forthright statements of “I saw what I saw,” “I heard what I heard,” “I know what I know,” and so on. Whether or not the child is actually correct in any concrete instance is beside the point, with the actual point being him recognising that he has a consciousness and the ability to use it. Similarly, a child can state the same in relation to another: “She saw what she saw” etc. The context of statements like these are when he is being challenged on some point, such as the identity of the culprit of some misdeed or whether a strange thing had happened that he is telling others about or whether there is something he heard that he thinks his parents should investigate, and so on.

The integrations of these statements then consists of the lock-step path of integrating the subsidiary concepts into their relevant grand concepts. From recognition of himself and his own consciousness, along with recognition of other people and their consciousnesses, and also recognition of other creatures and their consciousnesses too, he can identify that all animals have a consciousness of some kind and that they all can see, hear, know, and so on. “I have a consciousness” “You have a consciousness” “Mum and Julie have consciousnesses” “Rex and Fluffy have consciousnesses” “In the Star Trek movie, the machine called V-Ger has a consciousness”, and from there to the universal “There are lots and lots of consciousnesses!” Likewise, from recognition of these abilities in himself and others, he can recognise that he is conscious, his parents and his sister are conscious, his puppy and his sister’s cat are conscious, the make-believe “V-Ger” was conscious, and so on, and then become able say “Lots and lots of creatures are conscious!” This can actually be taken too far, as primitive peoples did, by attributing some degree of spirit or consciousness to the sun and everything under it!

At last, and again if he is philosophical enough, he can integrate the two paths and recognise that all consciousnesses are conscious, and finally universalise it into the formal statement that “consciousness is conscious.” With that, I am satisfied with this full identification of what “consciousness is conscious” means.


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