Our shared condition, consciousness

Philosopher John Searle wanted to talk about consciousness, but was told he should get tenure first. Here he explains why this subjective condition is the most important in being human.
Defining consciousness, Searle uses common sense. Consciousness consists of all those states of feeling or sentience or awareness. It begins in the morning when you wake up from a dreamless sleep and it goes on all day until you fall asleep or die or otherwise fall unconscious. He then goes on to describe four features of consciousness.
Firstly, it IS real and irreducible. Descartes was correct when he said one can’t doubt the existence of their own consciousness. Secondly, our conscious states have some form of qualitative quality; conscious states are subjective and exist differently in each individual.
We also have a unified conscious field, in that we’re not simply aware of one thing or other, but of the whole universe in front of us. Consciousness gestures causally in our behaviour; a single thought may make us move in a certain way, or not.
Searle uses these, and more, arguments to refute a number of the objections to the existence of consciousness. His closing message is simple: consciousness should be accepted as a genuine biological phenomenon and be subjected to analysis in the same way as any other science.


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