Tuesday, September 29, 2009

12.9.2008 - Being an afterthought

From time to time, we are all (philosophical?) zombies! In fact, we are most of the time consciousless: most of what we do, we just do without really being aware of. Why then it looks like to ourselves as if we "are" there all the time? well, perhaps for the same reason that, at any time, it looks like to us that we are "seeing a perfectly detailed and total" image of the world with our eyes: because the potentiality of eliciting consciousness is there at any time: we can "switch" at any time a routine of "self awareness" so as to describe (to ourselves and to others) our current experience - but this does not mean that this routine is always on - nor that it need to be for us to "function" efficiently. We are not continuously scanning our actions, or at least not all the time with the same level of self-attention. Internal or external stimuli can switch this process on and off (cf. attentional self-less concept proposed in my boxedEgo paper). For instance, if I ask you if you are conscious, you will certainly reply that yes, that you are. But this does not imply that you were conscious, even half a second before my asking you. It may look like you were, because you will reconstruct/describe your self using your memory, remembering, reconstructing a the self in the past. But you were not performing this self-awareness process in the past.

In other words, we are always no more than an afterthought.

Buddhists say:
there is no actor apart from action, no perceiver apart from perception, no conscious subject behind consciousness. I agree with that: the Self is an illusion, an "explanatory" reconstruction of our analytical minds (that tend to see intentions and actors everywere), and its apparent substance elusive an ineffable - as it should be if one think of it as the "high-level" qualia of a multimodal experience.

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