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Secrets of the Mind:

Can science explain consciousness?

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  • The Debate

    Secrets of the Mind

    We have no explanation of consciousness. Yet from the origins of life to the workings of the atom, science has provided answers when none were thought possible.  Might we be about to crack consciousness as well?  An impossible fantasy or an exciting adventure for mankind?

    The Panel

    Joanna Kavenna asks eminent physicist Roger Penrose, Master and His Emissary author Iain McGilchrist, and evolutionary psychologist Nicholas Humphrey to explain the all-seeing 'I'.


  • Find out more about speakers

Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • Iain McGilchrist
    The Pitch
    Consciousness stems from the divisions of our brains.
  • Nicholas Humphrey
    The Pitch
    We should be concerened with the metaphysical issue of sentience.
  • Roger Penrose
    The Pitch
    Consciousness transcends computation
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    What is consciousness?
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    Why are we conscious?
  • The Debate
    Theme Three
    Can science solve consciousness?
Want to learn more about our speakers?
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binra on 05/10/2015 11:14am

Can anything 'explain' consciousness?

The seeming question is a conceptual statement positing a something that acts to define and account for prior awareness in terms of concept that it manufactures. This is circular reasoning or indeed talking to oneself as if one is not in fact oneself but a proxy conceptual supposition through which a self reflecting model can be experienced as a modification of consciousness that is in no way shape or form actually achieving or acting anything outside of consciousness.

However as a working model, awareness is focused within and through concept of self and that which is rejected by the selection within totality operates as unconscious oppositional sense of identity and will.

The apparent struggle within what seems a split mind results in a world of experience in which imposition and opposition reinforce each other while assertion of control defines itself ever more negatively against feared or denied and unrecognized self. And that assertion of denial is received and reflected as oppression, compression and death - the inability to experience movement within consciousness. Which is the counterpart shadow to a falsely presumed ability to operate as an autonomous and self-defined concept within a totality of what consciousness actually is. The error is the idea of consciousness distinct and outside of feeling - a non feeling mind. Disconnecting thinking.

Feeling - in its true sense - does not need to explain or analyze anything to know That it is as it is, and experience itself in and as ever new perspective - because feeling in its true sense is the primary quality of receptivity that attracts and forms a focusing of attention and desire within itself, that then extends to reflect as idea through which to know itself Life - in relationship - as movement - as creation.

What is defined and accepted as consciousness in general human terms is an inverted exclusion of creation - in which an effect, assigns itself cause - as its own creation and consequently asserts an interpretation as its own distorted and filtered experience as its mind and its determination of world outside its defined 'consciousness'.

An interesting reversal of the reversal would be to ask, "Can Consciousness explain science?" Although the term explain is not native to Consciousness and so its original term would be, "Can Consciousness illuminate, embrace and know, science?". I suggest that nothing that is but is at its Original Quality of being, unconditionally loved - that is, illuminated, embraced and intimately known.

What kind of science would be conducted in conscious acceptance and embrace of the Movement of Being - rather than as an arrogant ignorance that seeks to make of Life a slave?

If words are not felt - they are not connecting to anything but thought. The assertion that they find justification in application is a cover for persistence in denying the felt quality of Existence. Heart and Mind are in truth an indivisible magnetic/electric vibrational expression of Infinite Perspective. A temporary shielding of totality individualizes the One as the Many - but the Many are the One.

At the perspective of individuality Idea accepted and extended through, reflects experience. There is no separation in true creation of idea (or definition) and experience - and the knowing within experience of self-awareness 'that it is Good' or truly reflecting. But in concept of a separating and segregating sense of self is a fragmenting experience in which the conscious focus within such act is lost to the overwhelming experience of being defined and conditioned by ones own unrecognized act in concept. The residual attempt of the mind to judge, determine and create for itself operates an exclusion zone, an elitism of private agenda operating beneath many layers of defence and justification.

It victory over Life is of course death. The reduction of life to explanation is the suppression of the very Movement of Life unless operating within a truly heartfelt, passionate and self transcending movement of Life!

Consciousness: By their fruits shall you know them - and they shall know themselves.

mebigguy on 03/01/2015 8:55am

Whether or not machines develop human level consciousness is very much an open question. Clearly though biological constructs can possess consciousness, human brains being the obvious example. Genetic engineers will be able to design changes in the human design producing creatures that have enormous intellects, well beyond ours. Probably they will be integrated into computer systems using the advantage of each. I find it both fascinating and frightening.

binra on 26/09/2014 11:48pm

Consciousness can extend itself in thoughts, images, definitions and beliefs - and through this act can seem to become A consciousness construct with a corresponding reflection or 'world' of qualities, energies, relations, sensations.

Such a segregated sense of consciousness can experience the belief that it is both separate from its Source Consciousness, from other conscious relations, and from its experience.

This separated sense operates upon an intellectualisation of reality in which every aspect is defined as a meaning ascribed by a mind that presumes ITSELF to exist and to be THE perceiver of meanings presumed

This function correctly extends from the whole consciousness, but is in a sense usurped by the identification within the mask or prism of the personality construct (of beliefs, feelings and behaviours).

The persona of the consciousness construct is the belief one lives in a physical world - made manifest or reflected as experience.

But the experience of the physical world is always within consciousness and never actually leaves it. One truly lives in Consciousness and never leaves it - but the idea of the separated self in a world of physical objects in space persisting in time is an experience being explored in infinite aspects of rich reflection. All of it is Consciousness uncovering Itself to Itself and none of it is actually requiring resolution into explanation because it is already perfectly communicating. However the unawake mind in its intellectualised assertions, is blocking its receptivity to energetic experiential communication by nature of the filters and distortions of the active beliefs and definitions taken as a foundation that then becomes unconscious - much as a telescope might be when absorbed within its focus.

The 'problem of consciousness' is a phrase that makes no sense.

But if one asks a real question and doesn't try to merely 'answer it' with existing thinking, one can invite Consciousness to provide answer - for it has already supplied the question.

What is consciousness? Well You are... but that is an intellectualisation of an experience of intimacy within this and any moment in which you listen or yield receptively to the movement of being in which an awareness rises as the ground or true nature of You. The awareness is and awareness OF something - but a willingness to listen does not interfere with the signal, the channel or the expression of the message.

The experience of wholeness is transcendent yet not other than the ordinary.

Listening is focusing beneath the prism that separates out into meanings of concept. When one does not try to make the new wine fit into the old bottles it 'abides' and 'becomes' in you as a capacity of discernment, insight and recognition that 'knows' itself directly - that can know who it is in relation to whatever it meets because it embraces and includes all that it meets within itself.

Such capacity and function is normal to our living - but is to a larger extent blocked or usurped to a narrative of personal control that inflates and aggrandizes the persona, with corresponding deflations and humiliations.

The 'problem' of consciousness - insofar as we accept the human conditioning as if it were actually the human condition, is of identifying and acting out of alignment with our consciousness, in ways that induce and reinforce a sense of coercion, rage, frustration, depression, and displacement.

The problem of consciousness is projected onto the world and we mostly try to solve it where it has been displaced rather than at the level where a sense of inadequacy, unworthiness, fear and confusion, operated a choice to try to hide what it feared itself to have become.

This is 'hiding consciousness' or limiting oneself in order to get something one believes one needs - or to get away from something one believes on needs to escape.

Just as there are frequencies to electromagneic radiation - or light - so there are frequencies of consciousness. One's perspective is operating at the frequency of one's thought. Not one's seemingly private thinking - but ones degree of integration and congruency or self honesty.

What humans call consciousness is the very bottom of the 'ladder'. It seems like there are levels below because one's inverted consciousness pushes its fear down. But subconsciousness and unconsciousness are actually higher or more inclusive aspects of our total consciousness, that we defend against in the belief that we will lose our existence - which we have conditioned ourselves to identify with control rather than communication. We think we are what we think we are and such is that nature of consciousness, that we experience according to the thought we invest with belief and thus react from as if true.

Arachne on 24/09/2014 10:31pm

It would be helpful to know what year these videos were presented.

Katherine Parker on 22/09/2014 5:47pm

I suggest the IAI put this and other episodes up on iTunes as a podcast.

Praxeologue on 22/09/2014 11:57am

Would love to be able to download this as audio /MP3 to listen on the podcasts...any suggestions how one can do that?


Katherine Parker on 20/09/2014 3:56pm

Aso, how can you download it as an mp3 to listen to on an mp3 player later?

Katherine Parker on 20/09/2014 3:41pm

How do you amplify this? It's very quiet, even when the volume is on max on the video and on my laptop?

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