I was asked the following question in a Debates Facebook group today, during a discussion of consciousness:
“Doesn’t that drive you nuts, that there’s no way to prove your existence because your proof of existence is self-referencing?”
It used to. A few weeks ago I reached an understanding, however – all questions about consciousness are ‘Why’ questions. ‘Why’ questions just beget more ‘Why’ questions, until you’re left with only one answer: “Because.” Science can’t handle these questions, so people turn to philosophy and religion for solace. Ultimately, though, you just have to make peace with the fact that you will never know.
I think the key to not going insane over this is realizing that you don’t need to prove existence. I know I’m conscious (even if I can’t prove it), and knowing that is enough for me. I believe you are conscious, but I recognize that this belief is based on unreliable evidence – your behavior alone. In other words, I have faith (little-F) that you, and all other humans, are conscious.
I’m also beginning to believe that consciousness is distinct from behavior – people with locked-in syndrome, for example, are conscious but exhibit no behavior. Consciousness appears to be the result of complexity – specifically the complexity of the chemical interactions occurring within our brains.
But if this is the truth, then the entire universe in conscious in some way – consider that we are, literally, a part of the universe. Every one of us is made of the same basic matter and energy, making us connected in ways we can’t understand because we can’t understand infinity.
Thanks Sarah for the well-timed question. =)
- Humans Being (brightumbra.wordpress.com)