More than five years ago a friend introduced me to the work of Humberto Maturana.
I was instantly hooked.
Only I’m not that interested in how consciousness appeared to be as I am in the consequences of us being conscient.
“The argument unfolds as follows: physicists have no problem accepting that certain fundamental aspects of reality – such as space, mass, or electrical charge – just do exist. They can’t be explained as being the result of anything else. Explanations have to stop somewhere. The panpsychist hunch is that consciousness could be like that, too – and that if it is, there is no particular reason to assume that it only occurs in certain kinds of matter.”
This excerpt perfect illustrates what I have in mind.
First thing after becoming conscious – ‘aware of his own awareness’ in Maturana’s terms – man realized how fragile he is. The best way to assuage that feeling was to find an explanation and a purpose for the whole situation. That’s when our immortal soul came to be. Created by God or simply invented by us, it doesn’t make any practical difference.
In time, as rational knowledge constructed wider and wider inroads into the unknown and currently offers scientific explanations for almost everything, the Creator God became less and less necessary. But ‘soul’ survived and now accompanies our still smart and yet unfulfilled desire to understand the origin of our consciousness. And now that we are no longer satisfied with the ‘divine origin’ of anything but not yet ready to accept that we might indeed be something special – fright again, being special implies extreme fragility/responsibility for one’s own fate – we are constantly searching for a new way to connect our nature/fate to the rest of the known Universe.
Hence the advent of ‘panpsyhism’. Which is not such a new idea as it would seem at first glance. The Buddhist notion of successive reincarnation has been around for more than two millennia.
How about accepting what Maturana teaches us – that consciousness of self is something we have continuously improved by using it synergistically with language and all these could take place simply because of the increased processing power that was accidentally bestowed, evolutionary speaking, upon our brains – and move on? If a better explanation will ever dawn upon us – by feat, by chance or even by divine intervention – we can always come back and reconsider – this is how science works, right?
Remaining stuck in this so called ‘Hard Problem’ – what is the direct link between our anatomy/brain physiology and our thoughts? – won’t take us anywhere, for sure.