Understanding Consciousness

As humans we pride ourselves on being conscious and aware, whereas the rest of the animals are not blessed with such an ability.The God’s themselves may have blessed us; created us in their own image for we are special. That is the central theme behind some of the world’s biggest religions. In the face of all evidence to the contrary religions go about preaching unscientific views on the history of the world and about the creation of this universe and its inhabitants.

Human consciousness has only begun to evolve fairly recently, as recent as 3000 years ago. There is much we do today that shows to a great degree that we are automations, performing even complex tasks without conscious deliberation. We can drive a car with one hand while talking on the cellphone. We function almost on an unconscious basis, from hour to hour, day to day. Our actions are more programmed than thought out. We react rather than act. Observe your own actions for a day and you will see instances of what I’m talking about.

This state of mind was first spoken about in the 1976 book ‘The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind’, written by Julian Jayne. The Bicameral Mind hypothesis supposes that the human brain once assumed a state known as Bicameral Mind in which cognitive functions are divided between one part of the brain which appears to be “speaking,” and a second part which listens and obeys. “At one time, human nature was split in two, an executive part called a god, and a follower part called a man. Neither part was Consciously aware”, says Julian. Hence the illusions about gods speaking to men and guiding their destinies. Of course such a hypothesis doesn’t come without it’s share of controversies and opposition. Also along these lines we have the hypothesis of Mythopoeic thought which more or less is similar to the Bicameral Mind Hypothesis. This hypothesis talks about ancient man’s need to create myths to understand the reasons behind natural occurrences. This again comes back to our need to have and ultimate explanation for everything; a greater force that is responsible for all of nature’s hidden ways.

In this day and age the concepts of myths and gods still prevail for the simple fact that man does not think wholly rationally. He needs an explanation for the phenomena that he doesn’t understand. The truth is, we fear that which we do not understand. And we need to ascribe reasons for things being the way they are even if they have no scientific or measurable basis in reality. That is why religions prevail, wars are fought and people die. Out of a fear of the unknown.

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2 thoughts on “Understanding Consciousness

  1. very insightful… i shall probably be quoting u the next time anybody gives me the whole ‘Church is a representative of God routine’… or the ‘don’t do this, God doesnt like it’ routine for that matter. Thanks for giving me more fuel for my debates! (im pretty sure ur cursing urself right now!)

  2. few things:1. Its is very interesting to look at people who have some diseases of various parts of the brain – it helps to find out the function of that part2. Religion and science be kept apart3. Language is the last thing to be lost when a person has brain damage – why? nobody knows.4. Hypothesis is called hypothesis because even the author knows its not true!

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