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Alex Gibbs

Professor Jizi
UWRT 1102
19 April 2016
Research Essay
I do a lot of thinking, as does the majority of the human race, hopefully, and Ive
always wondered what makes me different from any other mass of protons, neutrons, and
electrons. Why am I able to move about freely, have conversations, and type essays while
other masses, made up of the same basic things are not able to? Ive learned that
consciousness plays a huge factor in agency. There are quite a few movies and television
programs in which a persons consciousness is downloaded into a computer or used to
control some avatar in another world, be it real or virtual. The Matrix, Surrogates, Sword
Art Online, Tron are just a few that feature such technological advancements. How
plausible are these movies? Is consciousness something that can be scanned then uploaded?
What exactly is consciousness to begin with?
The source I came to first was an article was written in May of 2013 about different
historical views on understanding consciousness. This was written by Bharath Sriraman, a
Mathematician, and Walter Benesch, a philosopher. They talked about Vedic India and
Brahmanism which explained human consciousness as a part of all consciousness or
Brahman. I found one particularly relevant quote.
Shankara calls human consciousness Atman (or the Self), a manifestation or
emanation of Brahman. If one makes the analogy of the human body as Brahman,

and one of the vital organs as Atman, then it is easy to see that a vital organ cannot
play the role of a spectator as its very existence is intrinsically connected to the
entire body. Therefore human consciousness (Atman) cannot play the role of a
spectator in pure consciousness (Brahman) because it is a manifestation of
Brahman. (Sriraman 118)
This discussion on consciousness opened the door to other questions. My view was
that each person had their own individual consciousness separate from others. Each its own
thing. According to them, each consciousness is a part of a larger, all-encompassing
consciousness. This raises the question of how each one is connected.
The next is a Ted talk by David Chalmers, "How Do You Explain Consciousness?"
He covered what current scientists and philosophers were discussing about consciousness
and gave two ideas that he had about the topic. His first idea is that consciousness is
fundamental or one of the building blocks that compose our universe along with space,
time, and other fundamentals. (Chalmers).
Before he got to his second idea, I was already considering what he had said. If
consciousness is an underlying factor in the makeup of our objective reality, then wouldnt
that mean that everything had consciousness and maybe was conscious to lesser and greater
extents?
This was immediately answered by Chalmers, whose second idea covered that
exactly. His second theory was that consciousness might be universal. Every system might
have some degree of consciousness. This view is sometimes called panpsychism: pan for
all, psych for mind, every system is conscious, not just humans, dogs, mice, flies, but even

Rob Knight's microbes, elementary particles. Even a photon has some degree of
consciousness [M]aybe photons might have some element of raw, subjective feeling,
some primitive precursor to consciousness (Chalmers).
These ideas gave me a new insight into what the first source was saying.
Consciousness isnt just for humans or animals or even plants. With everything having
some form of consciousness, I can see how all of consciousness could be connected. If even
the molecules that make up the air has consciousness, then nothing in our universe, except
maybe empty space, isnt conscious. I then asked if consciousness is everywhere, can it be
measured or at least observed in some scientific capacity.
That brought me to an article by Physics expert Andrew Jones called "Is
Consciousness Related to Quantum Physics?" In this, he discusses how quantum physics is
used to explain consciousness. In relation to human consciousness specifically, they discuss
how our brains might work like quantum computers and outside of the on and offs of
typical binary programming each part has higher quantum states that it can be in. (?? ??)
With our human consciousness potentially being part of quantum theory, its
illusiveness is explained. Due to the double slit theory, I know that consciousness does
affect reality. The question is how and in what way?
Overall, it seemed as though there wasnt anything concrete about consciousness.
Everything I found was mostly ideas and speculations. David Chalmers, had the most
intriguing thoughts on consciousness which was basically that everything was conscious
even if just a little. That was the one thing that I noticed everything sort of went into. The
idea that consciousness was throughout everything in the universe. The Vedics thought that

human consciousness was a part of a grander consciousness. If I connect the dots and say
that quantum energy is consciousness then it truly is a part of everything. Although none of
this is proven, I cant help but to believe that theres some truth to this.
A while back I read an article about a plant that could remember that certain
stimuli wouldnt cause it any harm so it stop folding up its leaves defensively. The
information from this inquiry is giving me another way to look at the plants reaction. Is it
conscious in some way similar to us human? Can it feel? Does it have thoughts or
emotions? This also has some spiritual aspects involved as well. Is consciousness, or
quantum energy, related to God? The Vedics Brahman seemed very similar to the idea of
God. If I were to research this further, Id go in the direction of finding out the religious
view point on consciousness and if this is all connected to some greater force.

Did I explain the first quote well?


Is there anything else in the paper that I could explain better?
Is there anything I should elaborate on?

Bibliography

Chalmers, David. "How Do You Explain Consciousness?" Ted.com. TED Conferences, LLC, Mar.
2014. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.
Daniel Jeanmonod. Consciousness: A Riddle and a Key in Neuroscience and Spirituality.
Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality. Dordrecht: Springer, 2011. 75-79. Internet
resource.

Jones, Ander Z. "Is Consciousness Related to Quantum Physics?" About Education. 4 Dec. 2014.
Web. 3 Apr. 2016.
Kupczak, Jarosaw. "Consciousness and Efficacy." Destined for Liberty: The Human Person in the
Philosophy of Karol Wojtya/john Paul Ii. Washington, D.C: Catholic University of
America Press, 2000. 95-112. Internet resource. 3 Apr. 2016.
Sriraman, Bharath, and Walter Benesch. "Consciousness and Science: a Non-Dual Perspective on
the Theology-Science Dialogue." Interchange: a Quarterly Review of Education. 43.2
(2013): 113-128. Print.