Consciousness begins with feeling, not thinking

A new theory of embodied consciousness

Forget ‘I think therefore I am’. In a new theory of embodied consciousness, the neuroscientists Antonio Damasio and Hanna Damasio propose that feelings are the source of consciousness. Long dismissed as secondary to reason, feelings are where consciousness begins. Without them, consciousness is impossible, they argue – with radical implications for the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness and the future of AI.

 

Please pause for a moment and notice what you are feeling now. Perhaps you notice a growing snarl of hunger in your stomach or a hum of stress in your chest. Perhaps you have a feeling of ease and expansiveness, or the tingling anticipation of a pleasure soon to come. Or perhaps you simply have a sense that you exist. Hunger and thirst, pain, pleasure and distress, along with the unadorned but relentless feelings of existence, are all examples of ‘homeostatic feelings’. Home

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John Howard 16 June 2023

Firstly, I agree entirely with your approach, but would go further and say that feelings, especially pain are a key part of conscious decision-making. Pain is the currency of decision making. It needs a currency because decisions require balancing a myriad of different inputs to achieve an optimal result, all inputs must be on a comparable basis or making a decision would be impossible.

All living things are composed at least in part of non-conscious decision-making entities, while some animals are also blessed with a mixture of non-conscious and conscious decision-making entities.

Non-conscious decision-making is undertaken by many things, including: computers, robots, AIs, insects and plants. The bodies and large parts of the brain of higher animals also operate in a non-conscious decision-making manner.

All non-conscious decision-making entities are "programmed" in one way or another. Conventional computers are programmed by software engineers. Living non-conscious decision-making entities such as insects and plants are programmed by natural selection. AIs are programmed by artificial selection.

I hope you find this idea useful.

ado raa 16 May 2023

Forget ‘I think therefore I am’. In a new theory of embodied consciousness, the neuroscientists Antonio Damasio and Hanna Damasio propose that feelings are the source of consciousness. Long dismissed as secondary to reason, feelings are where consciousness begins. Without them, consciousness is impossible, they argue – with radical implications for the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness and the future of AI.
Thank!