The Hard Problem of Consciousness

The Hard Problem of Consciousness

Modern science has been struggling for some time with consciousness. It is subjective vs science’s objective approach. And yet it is intimate to our experience. Not to mention that consciousness keeps showing up as a player in science, even in fundamental physics.

Presently, science predominately views consciousness as an accidental by-product of brain functioning. This materialist perspective hampers a real understanding of who we are and the nature of the world. A well-known example would be Stroke of Insight.

At a recent TED talk in my home town, Aussie philosopher David Chalmers asks How do you explain consciousness?

TEDs summary here

Chalmers proposes 2 “crazy ideas” that may help solve the issue.
1 – that consciousness is fundamental, like space and time.
[actually space and time are effects of consciousness]
2 – that consciousness is universal, not reserved to higher beings or just in our head.
If it’s fundamental it has to be universal.

That is exactly right and both these points can be experienced directly. The proof is in systematic subjectivity. It doesn’t take Self Realization either, just one good, clear experience of samadhi, of pure consciousness. It’s own nature proves itself.

Chalmers noted physics is then the flux of consciousness. Well put.

He then observed the correlation between consciousness and information [intelligence], but like his earlier comment about correlations not leading to the heart of it, this one is also faulty. As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi famously said “When existence become conscious, then intelligence becomes intelligent.” In this context, this means information arises as a result of being conscious. We can also say information is structured in consciousness or orderly systems are ordered in consciousness.

So here’s another principle: Intelligence, the ordering principle, is fundamental and universal but not equal to consciousness. Information is derived from conscious intelligence.

The proof of that? The laws of thermodynamics. Any given system requires a constant input of order or else entropy takes over and the system dissolves into dust. And yet the universe as a whole continues to evolve, add order, and express higher intelligence. The big bang was not a big bust. Order is inherent or none of this would be here.

Also as a result of his co-relation, Chalmers suggests that computers, such as portrayed in the movie Her [or 2001] may become conscious. This isn’t correct. They are structured in consciousness but don’t have the energy structure to support being conscious. Life has chakras.

The problem isn’t really so hard. It is who we are. But it does require opening up the box a little.

PS – the talk was ironic considering TED had supposedly banned talks on consciousness and cancelled association with two US TEDx events last year for mentioning it. They both went ahead without TED.

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  1. You’re welcome.

    For many people, consciousness is a vague background sense. It is the observer whereas science studies the observed. How does the observer study the observer? That’s what eastern traditions have explored for eons. Systematic exploration of the subject.

    The subject is the knower so knowing the knower greatly enhances all forms of knowing. As the famous Greek phrase mentions, Know Thyself.

  2. Thanks. Evidently it’s his 4th book. It and the others are linked on the interview page lined above.

    The interview emphasizes his approach is via the intellect but it’s clear from a few comments it’s also been experienced. But as he notes it’s “non-abiding” to use Adyashanti’s term.

  3. Pingback: An Intellectual Approach to Consciousness -

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