By David M. Petersen
Your consciousness is not an illusion, it is a new emergent physical entity. This emergent energy structure is your soul. People who say there is no self or soul or that consciousness is an illusion are very seriously misquided; please stop.
There is, however, power in "losing oneself." The less ego you have, the more aware, and thus powerful, you become.
(12/23/2018) Ok, I just read the article in Scientific American that proclaims loudly "There Is No Such thing as Conscious Thought," but where in the article do you actually prove that consciousness is illusion? Just because you can't access the processes from which it arises day to day; that's a logic fail right there. Why can't it also be real? No reason. Those processes were built over years and years of you being you. Abraham Lincoln hated slavery and abolished it but I guess his thoughts and feelings on the subject were just illusions! No they were not; they ARE energy structures that exist. Honest Abe is still back there, a pillar of reality, hanging in eternity, along with his thoughts and feelings (the universe is four dimensional and eternal, and our consciousness is one of many balanced systems interwoven inside it.) Now every kid who reads Scientific American thinks consciousness is an illusion; I find this very irresponsible. There's a lot of good stuff in this article, though. You may think I don't like the analytical approach to philosophy at all, and that's true for philosophy in general, but the study of consciousness can still benefit greatly from an analytical approach. Just keep it real please (pun intended.)
Respectfully, phenomenology (and I would really prefer the term consciousness here) does not equal mechanism, it includes and transcends it. The view that consciousness equals mechanism has adopted complexity but not complexity science; It is really just dressed up reductionism. Consciousness is not reducible to the brain. It is the next level complex system that is orders of magnitude more complex then the brain, which is part of the system underneath it (the body). The principle of irreducibility would then apply to the body in total, and then consciousness including the body in total (This is a brand new idea for me; I just realized this. It means that the body is part of what is generating consciousness as well.)
Sorry; I know its not what people want to hear, but it is time we start seeing the phenomenon of consciousness for what it is (a super-complex emergent entity) and stop equating it with simple machines, which is a joke. The most advanced computers, no matter how advanced they get, still just do binary addition. This is a simple system because it's just logic (which corresponds to order); there's no chaos. This means that the simplest organic system (Like a nematode worm, for example) that incorporates order and chaos (heals itself, responds to chaotic external conditions and survives, etc.,) will always be vastly superior to it in terms of complexity. Never mind the human body/brain and THEN the human mind which is orders of magnitude more complex than the human body/brain underneath it. (Does quantum computing incorporate chaos? Sort of, because it is incorporating the order and chaos of quantum systems but not in its real calculation I think; it's still just using logic which makes it a VERY simple system.) Statements like the brain is like a computer, our machines will be conscious in 20 years; we will store our consciousness in computers, etc....; DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH!
I also must take issue with the idea that any sufficiently complex system will be conscious. This idea is irrelevant simply because no new system could ever come close to catching up to it, and also because consciousness evolved a certain way FOR a purpose. Ideas like this make me realize that most people doing consciousness research have not read the premier work on the subject! Please, drop every thing and go read "The Phenomenon Of Man" by Pierre Tielhard De Chardin. It is a tough read, but worth it. This man's work on consciousness must not be lost. His work will give you the correct perspective in order to study the phenomenon of consciousness on planet earth.
Our consciousness (and others!) is the reason for the universe at this point in its evolution. Consciousness creates meaning and meaning is eternal.
Respectfully (I respect all who are trying to figure out consciousness), Consciousness is not a "problem," hard or otherwise, it is a phenomenon. Looking at it as a problem misses the point.
I wrote a paper called Plato was right about the forms that I now realize has more useful work on consciousness but the scientists aren't reading it because its more traditional philosophy. Here are some quotes from it:
"First we have to get a picture of how consciousness itself exists. To sum up, consciousness is a new form of energy being generated into existence by the brain, that has its own physical structure that is separate from the brain. Now, I believe that a very fundamental characteristic of our universe is that it is completely continuous. In other words, there is nothing discrete in our universe, only interconnected energy systems. So, since everything is continuous and interconnected in our universe, so are our minds. Consequently, This physical structure of the mind is completely interwoven into the continuous fabric of the universe; it is just so complex that we cannot measure it at this time. When this is grasped, it is then possible to conceive of an idea or form as an incredibly complex interwoven structure of energy that is inside this overall energy structure of the mind. Therefore, ideas (and experiences) are continuous structures that are integrated together just like every other structure in the universe. This I believe is the actual definition of a Quale."
"So what about the lesser properties (universals) then? I think that they are physical energy patterns that function as characteristics interwoven into an overall idea, which of course is also a physical entity, which of course is continuous in nature as stated above. So for example the property of green-ness plus the property of chair-ness are continuously interwoven into your mental image of a green chair. You can learn the color green from this chair, and when you see something else green you will remember, and the property of green-ness will be smoothly integrated into your mental picture of the other thing you are looking at that is green. Actually it is probably likely that your understanding of the new green chair is integrated with your first experience of green and your first experience of a chair, and this is of course an actual physical energy integration. Properties then are complex interwoven parts of ideas which themselves are integrated energy representations of external reality."
Back to "Statement on Consciousness"
The likely evolutionary path of the human race:
The future of Man
The 21st century needs its own philosophy; here it is: