Sometimes you have a new thought, an idea, or eureka moment, but it’s not gutsy enough to expand into a reasonable length article or essay. So, here’s a potpourri of thoughts on all manner of aspects dealing with all that stuff that’s between your ears that’s too good not to record, but with not enough meat available to flesh out.
* You Then; You Now: That you that existed ten years ago share none of the fundamental particles, atoms, molecules, etc. that makes up that you that really does exist right now. Yet you in the here and now can connect with that you that existed a decade ago. You remember that you fell off your bicycle, and you may still have a scar of two visible from that former era and accident. So what bridges the gap and connects you today with you yesterday or that you ten years ago growing magic mushrooms?
* Mind: When it comes to the human mind, I like the observation that we spend a lifetime trying to make a mark on the world when in fact it is the world making its mark on us.
* Mind: The mind is not a synonym for ‘the soul’. The mind is a thing because it requires energy to power it. The mind has reality, even if it is just a nebulous part of the brain (i.e. – the mind is not a separate structure or organ within the brain). If I destroy your brain, I destroy your mind. The mind is the repository of all those non-autonomous controls you have over your body; those voluntary functions (like doing your homework even if you don’t feel like it) or quasi-voluntary functions like holding your breath, forcing yourself to stay awake or hold off going to the bathroom. It’s where your memories are; where you think (processing information already in storage or newly received); where you make decisions. The mind is often divided into the subconscious mind and the conscious (self-awareness part of the) mind.
* Mind: Your mind contains all that makes you, you. It is the essence of you. It contains and controls your perceptions, knowledge, memories, creativity, emotions, your thinking, your understanding or comprehension or ability to figure things out, your personality, and it houses your dreams and daydreams. A frequent topic for discussion in philosophical circles is whether or not the mind, specifically your mind, is the be-all-and-end-all of cosmic reality. The answer IMHO is a resounding “no” because the mind cannot be a perpetual motion ‘machine’. In other words, the mind is like all things (assuming other things), a thing subject to deterioration over time or subject to entropy. All things go downhill – dust accumulates, desks get cluttered, stars run out of fuel, cars breakdown and people grow old. It takes a constant supply of external reality energy and matter (same difference) to keep entropy at bay. That renewal of supply might win the battles, but entropy ultimately wins the war.
* Worldviews: It struck home to me recently how often we shift our worldviews. We have no worldview at birth. Our worldview at five is one that’s full of self, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, imaginary friends, and parties with lots of cakes, cookies, soda pop and presents. All of that certainly changes, and drastically so, when you hit the teens when your worldview shifts to the opposite sex and sex and rebellion against all things adult. Maybe somewhere there’s an easing in period, a first stirrings, where you start to acquire a worldview of a God and heaven and angels and all things bright and beautiful (that’s probably imposed on you by parents and social mores. Then you get trust out (usually by choice) into the adult world that’s full of bills and responsibilities and employment and/or family life raising your own brats. During all of this you probably never really think of the ‘natural’ cosmic context you find yourself in. But that tends to come as you pass the half-way mark and start heading downhill. The Big Questions come more to the fore and you start to adopt a worldview that makes comforting sense away from the normal routine worldview of taxes and nasty bosses and your kids in trouble with the police again. Again, for most, that tends to revolve around God and heaven and angels, etc. But some people start thinking more outside the comforting religious box and more about space and time, and before and after, and finite vs. infinity and what non-religious Big Picture makes the most philosophical and logical common sense. And whatever specific you come up with can also shift as you reflect on your earlier reflections without end as new concepts and connections come into being or focus which you’ve got to ponder and fit into the master worldview jigsaw puzzle you’ve established.
* Consciousness: Every living thing from humble microbes to plants, jellyfish to frogs, birds to cats to primates have consciousness because all respond to external stimuli in ways that are not predictable by classical physics (unlike a rock expanding and contracting as the temperature rises and falls). From conception to brain death you feel and respond to stimuli 60/60/24/7/52, like gravity and temperature, etc. If you respond, in un-rock like ways, you have consciousness.
* Consciousness: Consciousness is just the awareness of your surroundings in the here and now. You have to draw on your subconscious to identify the nature of those surroundings. Self-awareness is acting on what you became aware of, the nature of those surroundings and for that you also have to draw down upon your subconscious. You’re aware that you hear a noise and you need your subconscious (experience and memory) to identify it. Maybe it’s thunder; or a car cash; or your dog barking; or a door slamming or a jet plane flying overhead (which you then need to identify as a normal commercial jet or a military fighter jet). Your self-awareness of that will then draw down upon your experience and memories for the proper way to respond to the nature of that noise. You may need to secure the property if there’s a thunderstorm coming; or call the police/ambulance if it was a car crash; or let your dog in, etc. You’ll self-awareness will respond differently if you smell something consciously and that something according to those subconscious memories you immediately draw on tells you it is something cooking vs. something burning. In the case of the noise or the smell, a one day old baby couldn’t make that distinction between this or that since it has no subconscious memory bank on which to draw though it consciously hears the noise and smells the smell just as you do.