Sunday, 25 November 2007

Beyond consciousness? Is there?

The quote from Julian Jaynes lecture mentioned in "Is thinking an automatic process?" raises questions that go beyond the process of thinking. Mankind has looked upon the concept of consciousness to explain its prowess to probe and understand reality. As Julian Jaynes, in his theory of the bicameral mind attempts to put things straight and define consciousness as it really is, dis-associates thought from consciousness. If thinking is not conscious and the way we give answers to questions is dictated by apparently non-specific neural mechanisms, such a process demotes the significance of consciousness and raises the question of another level of organisation, to which consciousness is only a part of.

What is there beyond consciousness? Julian Jaynes in his controversial theory of the bicameral mind asserts that consciousness is a recent attribute of the human mind. That consciousness of a few centuries ago was just voices in the head. Visions. But if consciousness is not the ultimate gift of the human mind, and evolves in the same way as everything else, under the same rules of evolution, then there must be something else that sustained humanity in its path of development, something more fundamental than consciousness.

Consciousness develop on the bed this fundamental level provides, and might be an offshoot of some primitive quality that has evolved into the consciousness we experience. What is the stuff of this fundamental level and how is it organised? Julian Jaynes referred to structions, as the mode of organisation of the nervous system which identify the materials used in thought and lead the thought to conclusion. Structions, like instructions or commands or routines. Or algorithms? The mathematical instructions? A realm driven by the mathematical laws? Mathematical processes the deepest level of existence and consciousness an offshoot of some obscure quality?