It seems to me that, whoever we are and whatever our convictions, there is a single question we all need to answer. The way we answer may well underpin how we live our life. The question is seldom made explicit, but is often implicit in both scientific and religious beliefs. For my own part, I wish that people were encouraged to give it much more attention, because it really is fundamental to our experience of reality. That question is: where does consciousness come from?
The Western view, for much of the past two hundred years, has been largely based on materialism – that is, the idea that matter is all that exists. According to this model, consciousness is a product of the brain (See my previous blog: Are mind and brain the same? (http://davidmichie.com/blog/2015/09/01/are-mind-and-brain-the-same/).
It should be stressed that this view is not a fact, but a hypothesis. And it is a hypothesis that generally works until it is pushed to extremes. What kind of extremes? Well, if consciousness arises from the brain – in a way scientists cannot, so far, explain – then how is it that some very capable people with high IQs possess hardly any brain at all?
How is it possible that people whose brains have been badly affected by degenerative conditions, like Alzheimer’s, and who have suffered from dementia for months or even years, can suddenly return to periods of complete lucidity in the minutes or hours before their death?
Why is it that people whose brains are, according to all the evidence, no longer functioning, can have some of the most lucid and vivid experience of consciousness of their lives (see my blog on near death experiences: http://davidmichie.com/blog/2014/09/27/what-can-we-learn-from-near-death-experiences/)
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The material in this blog is discussed in much more detail in my book, Why Mindfulness is better than Chocolate.
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I had fun narrating this:
(Thanks for the image to: Babin Shrestha on Unsplash)