An Important Jigsaw Piece in My View of Life
The only advantage of being sick over the last weeks has been my continuing revelations from Claxton’s Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind. I’m nearly at the end and confident that I’ll be starting it again. Seminal.
So my reading really slowed down when I got to the chapter on ‘The Point of Consciousness’:
‘the intriguing possibility that areas of the brain might be getting on with their business at an unconscious level, without bothering to wait for consciousness to develop. A pool of neural activation may split into two, one part resonating with the self, and thus subserving the emergence of conscious awareness, while the other carries on with further processing such as planning a response’
‘These results indicate clearly that it is the conscious brain which decides what to do, and when; and that what we experience as intention is merely a post hoc confirmation of what has already been set in motion. Consciousness receives a kind of corollary ‘despatch note’, and then presents this as if it were the original order’
Had me in familiar territory already. Part of the reason for this blog’s existence was to understand a bit better what the other-than-conscious did. Not to necessarily ascribe meaning to it. As I noted in my first post in May, I firmly believe: ‘They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more’ (Waiting for Godot, Beckett)
To the question of what is consciousness for?
The role of consciousness starts for Claxton in his observation that we are most conscious of those things which might threaten us – which as an aside leads to the interesting connection with procrastination: we resist action as a default as most of our consciousness is filled with challenges/ threats?
‘Where there is some initial doubt (that the situation is safe and familiar), then the flow of activation is arrested and the predicament is allowed to resonate with the priorities and checks of the self, so that further data may be collected, or a wider pool of associations activated……. if a threat is uncovered, then censorship and self-control can save the day. Consciousness is for self-protection‘