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Science

Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think (scientificamerican.com) 288

An anonymous reader shares a post from Scientific American, written by Bernardo Kastrup: An article on the neuroscience of infant consciousness, which attracted some interest a few years ago, asked: "When does your baby become conscious?" The premise, of course, was that babies aren't born conscious but, instead, develop consciousness at some point. Yet, it is hard to think that there is nothing it feels like to be a newborn. Newborns clearly seem to experience their own bodies, environment, the presence of their parents, etcetera -- albeit in an unreflective, present-oriented manner. And if it always feels like something to be a baby, then babies don't become conscious. Instead, they are conscious from the get-go. The problem is that, somewhat alarmingly, the word "consciousness" is often used in the literature as if it entailed or implied more than just the qualities of experience. Dijksterhuis and Nordgren, for instance, insisted that "it is very important to realize that attention is the key to distinguish between unconscious thought and conscious thought. Conscious thought is thought with attention." This implies that if a thought escapes attention, then it is unconscious.

Indeed, Jonathan Schooler has established a clear distinction between conscious and meta-conscious processes. Whereas both types entail the qualities of experience, meta-conscious processes also entail what he called re-representation. "Periodically attention is directed towards explicitly assessing the contents of experience. The resulting meta-consciousness involves an explicit re-representation of consciousness in which one interprets, describes or otherwise characterizes the state of one's mind.

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Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think

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  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:13AM (#55230875)

    The problem is that, somewhat alarmingly, the word "consciousness" is often used in the literature as if it entailed or implied more than just the qualities of experience. Dijksterhuis and Nordgren, for instance, insisted that "it is very important to realize that attention is the key to distinguish between unconscious thought and conscious thought.

    So they're redefining thought so broadly that most animals are conscious too by their definition and the pretending they have some revolutionary insight when all they have done is confused themselves about what they are talking about.

    Babies are not conscious. I could see my child make the transition from not recognizing herself to recognizing herself in a mirror; that's a pretty strong test thought not definitive in itself.

    Humans do not innately learn consciousness at all, and it was a very recent discovery and it is something that is taught, not picked up automatically:
    https://www.amazon.ca/Origin-C... [amazon.ca]

    Helen Keller's own accounts of her youth strongly support that idea.

    • by MangoCats ( 2757129 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:20AM (#55230911)

      Are cats conscious?

      I can make a cat chase a laser dot around the room endlessly.

      When I waggled a laser dot infront of my infant, he identified me as the source of the phenomenon after about 2 seconds, gave up on the dot and came for the emitter itself.

      • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:25AM (#55230939)

        I've actually had exactly the reverse experience. One of my cats knows where the light comes from, and goes for there. My child when she was very young did not, and was just as fascinated as a cat at the little red dot flying around the floor.

        • by MangoCats ( 2757129 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:58AM (#55231149)

          Clearly, depends on the cat and the child - I've often thought that the line between human and animal consciousness/intelligence/etc. is much fuzzier than is traditionally taught.

          • by gnick ( 1211984 )

            I've often thought that the line between human and animal consciousness/intelligence/etc. is much fuzzier than is traditionally taught.

            Fuzzier? Why does it have to be blurry at all? You don't think our 4-legged friends can achieve consciousness? They're not going to be discussing Descartes, but that doesn't mean they're not self aware.

          • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

            Clearly, depends on the cat and the child - I've often thought that the line between human and animal consciousness/intelligence/etc. is much fuzzier than is traditionally taught.

            When some of us are willing to strap C4 to their chest in the name of a fairy tale character they believe is real without any evidence, I don't believe you can classify our species as remotely intelligent. I also wonder what process it is by which we learn to invent imaginary things that we believe are real to the extent that we will go to war over differences of opinion over them thus causing much suffering. I hope some day we do become intelligent enough to stop this nonsense.

        • by Drethon ( 1445051 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @10:11AM (#55231235)

          And my dog loves chasing the red dot around but as soon as I shut it off I get a dirty glance. She knows the source but still loves chasing it.

          • by e r ( 2847683 )
            You're making some assumptions about things you can't know. For instance, what if your dog is looking at you for some indication about what to do next and not looking at you to ask why you turned off the toy.
            • You're making some assumptions about things you can't know. For instance, what if your dog is looking at you for some indication about what to do next and not looking at you to ask why you turned off the toy.

              Well I can expand on that. When she wants to play with the laser she looks at the ground and her tail wiggles, often the result when she sees us pick up the laser too. When the laser shuts off and she wants to play more she glares up at us, whines and then stares back at the ground and her tail wiggles. I know my interpretation, make of it what you will.

      • Are cats conscious?

        I can make a cat chase a laser dot around the room endlessly.

        When I waggled a laser dot infront of my infant, he identified me as the source of the phenomenon after about 2 seconds, gave up on the dot and came for the emitter itself.

        You are confusing the activity with the thought process. Our cats identified the source of the light pretty quickly, but continued to play.

        This probably had a lot to do with the fact that other than playing with the dot, the cat doesn't have much use for the laser.

        Over time, and watching and associating with all manner of animals, that there is a consciousness of sorts going on. It isn't necessarily the same sort of self awareness that humans have, but then again, believing that only the human sort of

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MangoCats ( 2757129 )

          It's not approximating bullshit, it's straight up species based racism/bigotry. Which is how things have always been, and is a big part of the macro attitudes that allow exploitation of the natural world to a point that we're going to collapse its ability to support the human race. But, hey, that's mostly my grandkids' problem, why should I even care?

          • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

            ++insightful

          • It's not approximating bullshit, it's straight up species based racism/bigotry. Which is how things have always been, and is a big part of the macro attitudes that allow exploitation of the natural world to a point that we're going to collapse its ability to support the human race. But, hey, that's mostly my grandkids' problem, why should I even care?

            Well, since we are on the human bashing bit, I believe that humanity has a fatal flaw that will lead to our eventual extinction. While we have evolved a big smart brain that allows us to do many things, we are constrained by our "lizard brain" which largely rules most of us. We delight in killing other humans - if there is no good reason, we'll make one up, such as an "enemy" believing in the wrong nonexistent entity that wants us to kill others. That's the seeds of our destruction, and I believe at some po

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              Frank Herbert had an interesting take on that in Dune. You might have human form, but unless and until you can control the lizard brain, you're just an advanced animal. To be human requires more.

      • Are cats conscious?

        No, not the meaning of conscious we are using here.

        They are not unconscious however, so it depends on the definition, but they do not have the abstract processing required for self-reflection.

        • They are not unconscious however

          I dunno, some cats are pretty freakin' lazy.

        • Are cats conscious?

          No, not the meaning of conscious we are using here.

          They are not unconscious however, so it depends on the definition, but they do not have the abstract processing required for self-reflection.

          Not unconscious means conscious. By definition.
          Try again. If you think you have a strict definition of consciousness that allows for whatever bullshit you're trying to sell, please post that definition.

          Here are some facts for you:

          There is no known physical mechanism that manifests consciousness.
          There is no objective test to determine whether something is conscious or unconscious.
          There is no strict definition of consciousness.

          You can faff about with bullshit and wankery all you want, but none of it will be

      • by Cramit ( 609487 )
        My cats have each figured out the dot comes from the pointer...and when they get board they start to attack the hand. They still play with the pointer; probably because it is "fun".
      • My cats would get ready to pounce when they see me pick up the laser pen. They know it's me but love to chase the red dot anyway.

        My brother's cat was the same way... reach for the pen and they get ready to jump on the red dot.

    • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:33AM (#55231009) Homepage

      The problem is that, somewhat alarmingly, the word "consciousness" is often used in the literature as if it entailed or implied more than just the qualities of experience. Dijksterhuis and Nordgren, for instance, insisted that "it is very important to realize that attention is the key to distinguish between unconscious thought and conscious thought.

      So they're redefining thought so broadly that most animals are conscious too by their definition and the pretending they have some revolutionary insight when all they have done is confused themselves about what they are talking about.

      Exactly. The problem is that the word "consciousness" is used differently by different researchers. Whether babies are conscious-- or whether animals are-- or even whether you yourself are conscious when you're driving to work at 8am along a road you've driven 1000 times before-- depends on how you choose to define consciousness.

      It's an endlessly debatable question, since the word doesn't have an agreed-upon, measurable definition.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're being too black and white when you say "babies are not conscious" (because of an inability to recognise themselves in a mirror). Consciousness is a spectrum of response involving reaction to a stimulus. At the extreme low end you could argue a simple automated greenhouse window opener was conscious - it reacts to the stimulus (temperature) by taking an action to control something (opening the window). Plankton, and plants, are a bit more conscious. Collectives (as in ants in an anthill or neurons in

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      If I had mod points you'd get one. This article is typical philosophy blather: Ask "Is this blah blah blah?", then carefully define blah blah blah such that the answer could be either Yes or No. Then debate endlessly which it is.
    • Babies are not conscious.

      I'm not sure I agree with that. I have many very clear memories going back to when I was VERY young. At least two of them are from before the time when I was even attempting to walk, and at least one of them predates my ability to roll over from my back to my stomach. To me, the fact that I remember those moments so clearly, (along with the emotions I was feeling), is indicative of consciousness, and even self-consciousness. I realize now that in those moments I was very definitely experiencing the 'self /

    • You are defining "self consciousness", the self-reflective awareness as distinct from the environment. However, recognizing your own reflection is essentially connecting an outside image with yourself. Not recognizing your reflection as a representation of yourself does not disprove self-consciousness, but recognizing it does prove self-consciousness. What babies seem to lack early on is "meta" consciousness and abstract reasoning. There is a level of abstraction to recognizing that your reflection is a rep

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Lots of thought about consciousness, AI, etc. eventually devolve to versions of: "it is hard to think that there is nothing it feels like to be a newborn."

      That's a pretty shaky foundation.

    • Aren't you conflating consciousness (i.e. being awake and aware of one's surroundings) with sentience (i.e. being able to perceive and feel)?

      Being able to recognize oneself is not a mark of consciousness; it's a mark of sentience. Animals are conscious by every definition I've ever seen, as are babies. These researchers aren't redefining the term. Rather, they're pointing out that it's occasionally being co-opted by others to suggest something more than what it actually means, which has led some of them to

    • > Babies are not conscious.

      [[citation]]

      How are you _measuring_ consciousness ?

    • > So they're redefining thought so broadly that most animals are conscious too by their definition

      The fact that consciousness doesn't even exist according to the Standard Model [wikipedia.org] should be your first clue that scientists don't have a fucking clue what consciousness is.

      Second, you DO realize that animals communicate with one another, right? And that they demonstrate free will. If you actually had a pet such as a cat or dog you would know this.

      Third, the problem is scientists are too stupid to realize Ev [youtube.com]

    • I find it Interesting that you introduced Helen Keller. I thought of her as well. My assertion is that how we define consciousness is conflated with the development of recursive thought, which is directly related to language development. The two are intertwined because to even define something is to presuppose the possession of language. And, in having language one also acquires recursion as a part of their thought process.

      We see consciousness through the inalienable lens of thinking about thinking abou

    • You beat me to it.

      This is nothing but half-assed, garbage-can philosophy. No doubt it always "feels like something" to be a frog, but that doesn't mean the frog is "conscious" by any reasonable interpretation of the word.

      But that brings up a question which seldom fails to raise a strong reaction in some people: if a newborn is not "conscious" then to what degree, and by what measure, is it actually a human being?
  • by MangoCats ( 2757129 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:14AM (#55230883)

    Anything that senses, decides, and reacts is conscious. The more complex the decision step, the more conscious it is.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @10:09AM (#55231229)

      So Tesla cars are conscious?

    • But that would imply any Turing-Complete machine would be concious, as it can be attached to sensors, make decisions based on what it senses (and it's internal state), and react according to an algorithm. As any programmable computer can be abstracted to a basic Turing-Complete machine, it is relatively easy to determine whether or not the simplest form of a Turing-Complete machine can be concious (sentient) or not. Even neural-networks can run in software on a Turing-complete machine, so if we can prove th
    • Anything that senses, decides, and reacts is conscious. The more complex the decision step, the more conscious it is.

      By that token, you could claim atoms are conscious. It lost an electron so it "decided" it wanted an electron to replace it. Not complex enough? How about microprocessors "deciding" to compute the instructions you give it?

      I suppose what I'm getting at is that the distinction for "deciding" needs to be clarified.

      • Decision implies a choice, an atom does not make a choice to add an atom or not, if an electron is available it will add it. A microprocessor does not choose, it only does what its told to do based on variables given to it.
        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          By your definition, people don't make choices. Nothing really matters, might as well give up living.
        • A microprocessor does not choose, it only does what its told to do based on variables given to it.

          How is that different from a brain?

    • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 )

      I don't agree. Consciousness is the act of being aware. Autonomic actions are, by definition, not signs of consciousness.

    • Like a thermostat?
  • A continuum (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:14AM (#55230887) Homepage

    Consciousness is clearly a continuum. As a very small child, you have no context to place all the sensory data into, and this restricts what you can do. It's interesting to read about people with hyperthymedia [wikipedia.org], also known as autobiographical memory, because many of them have clear memories from before the age of 1 year old. Which give you an insight into what is interesting or important to an infant, for example, "these clothes are scratchy". At that level, likely infants are always "conscious". So is a cockroach, no offense either to babies or cockroaches.

    What I think is actually being asked, is what degree of awareness of self is present? "I am, and I know that I am"? That's the meta-consciousness referred to in TFS.

    • Consciousness is clearly a continuum. As a very small child, you have no context to place all the sensory data into, and this restricts what you can do. It's interesting to read about people with hyperthymedia [wikipedia.org], also known as autobiographical memory, because many of them have clear memories from before the age of 1 year old.

      Yup. My first memory as a child is some time before I was one. I toilet trained very early. I also contracted some sort of illness and spent a day or two in the hospital. While my mother told the nurses that I was trained, the nurses insisted that no kid that young could be toilet trained. So they put me in a diaper. Which pissed me off royally.

      So at some point during the day, I had to whizz. Now we get to the part of my memory. I recall looking out the window from the crib I was in, and removing my diap

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Are you sure you remember. Or did you hear your mum tell the story so many times that you subconsciously rewrote the experience in your mind. And now you remember that instead? Every time the brain thinks about something, remembers it, it can easily be subtly changed. All those changes can and do add up to what amounts to a memory of something that never actually happened.
        • Are you sure you remember. Or did you hear your mum tell the story so many times that you subconsciously rewrote the experience in your mind. And now you remember that instead? Every time the brain thinks about something, remembers it, it can easily be subtly changed. All those changes can and do add up to what amounts to a memory of something that never actually happened.

          Well, I brought it up first when I was older. What I think etched the memory was me being quite angry about the diaper, and looking outside the window and wishing I was outside. As well, there was a feeling that pissing on the floor because I didn't want to go in the diaper was an act that I believed would piss off the nurses, and was a sort of revenge feeling.

          My memory was of being angry and taking revenge, while my mother's memory and apparently the nurses was one of it being kind of cute. So while I u

        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          That's why you need to be meta-cognitive about your thoughts and memory. I actually have a learning disability that makes it extremely difficult to remember facts of any kind, but I can remember meta-facts just fine. Instead of remembering something directly, I remember by focusing on a fact while it's int my short-term memory and creating lots of meta-knowledge about the knowledge I want to remember. Then when it comes time to remember something, I use the meta-knowledge to reason about what the original k
          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
            I should expand on what "familiar" means for pattern recognition. It's the pattern that I can most easily reason about. I visualize patterns. Think of it like an N dimensional "shape" of the sort. The more defined the shape is with the least about of mental effort, the more "familiar" it seems to me. I say this because the less effort I put into reasoning about something while coming to a "clear image", the more times I *must* have encountered the pattern. I assume reinforced neural path ways or something.
  • Yet another thing we've described in black and white terms turns out to be an entire spectrum of variation.

    Consciousness is not an on/off switch. It develops gradually over time as the child's brain grows and matures. Trying to pick one particular moment to declare that a child has become conscious is a pointless exercise that accomplishes nothing of use.

    Consciousness has many levels. A newborn has no concept of object permanence and won't recognize itself in a mirror. Both of those are signs of conscio

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:30AM (#55230983)

    I'm an engineer. i can't not experiment with my kids.

    I watched my oldest daughter in "4d ultrasound" perform self-soothing by caressing her own cheek. After she was born and experiencing "the end of her previous universe", in the first week of life, I caressed the cheek the way she had, and she responded powerfully. It amazed her. It strongly supported bonding. Her eyes got wide, her pupils dilated, and she took a deep breath of surprise. She then leaned into it.

    I played pat-a-cake with my daughter when she was in the womb. I would feel my wife's belly for her hands, and then I would push in. When I pushed in once, she would push out once. When I pushed in twice, she would push out twice. There was a concept of time-series, number, or symmetry.

    I observed several signficant transitions (jumps) in capability to interact with the "universe", but her "her-ness", her personality, her character, and her mental acuity were consistent. The leaps were more about costs per level of interaction, but not the fundamentals.

    I taught her tongue-signs at 2 weeks old. She can nurse, which means she had basic control of her tongue and lips. It ended up being an indicator of if she had will, opinion, or particular desire long before she could hold her head up, and long long before should could crawl, walk, or drive the complexities of the human vocal apparatus. She was clearly able to indicate her desire for 1) a binkie, or 2) a bottle. There were times I tested this, and I gave her one insead of the other. I tried both ways, and each time, she would spit the undesired object out, and repeat the sign.

    My bottom line: she was always conscious. It was not that her consciousness changed, but the physical architecture, in terms of muscle control, methods of communication, energy levels, and emotionally coming to terms with the end of the world she had formerly known that had been the changes.

    I think people who do not rigorously watch, and experiment (with purpose of learning, such that learning informs empowerment of the child) have to question whether they are conscious after they are born.

    I suspect that evil people would use it as a way to create a new class of murder - if their mind is numbed just a little, then they aren't really conscious when they are killed, and it isn't "cruel or unusual punishment". Whether they apply this to execution of prisoners, to the enemy combatant on the battlefield, or to euthanasia of newborns, I think it is dangerous to provide answers to badly asked questions. I have a substantial problem with the false assumptions behind the question of when, after birth, conscious starts. My clear observations strongly support that it existed before birth, and doesn't go away.

    -EngrStudent (mathdad)

    • by LesserWeevil ( 4776371 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @10:29AM (#55231335)
      My observations agree with yours. Sample size: 5 Father present at birth: 5 Sex distribution: 4 girls, 1 boy Observations: 1 and 3 of 5, both girls, showed remarkable attention at birth. So much so that the attending doctor commented on both occasions. Both adults now adult with very strong, creative personalities. 2 and 4 of 5 (also girls) showed "normal" attention at birth, turning out to be interesting but not exceptional adults. 5 of 5 (boy) showed little interest in surroundings at birth, was slow to speak (age 2) and somewhat awkward as a toddler. As a teen measured IQ 166, national merit scholar and engineering student. Introvert. Conclusions: Humans arrive at birth largely pre-wired for the personality they will have. Behavior at birth is a gross indicator of that personality. To say personality (and some level of consciousness) is not pre-imprinted in the womb is to ignore ample evidence to the contrary.
    • My bottom line: she was always conscious. It was not that her consciousness changed, but the physical architecture, in terms of muscle control, methods of communication, energy levels, and emotionally coming to terms with the end of the world she had formerly known that had been the changes.

      You may have done a little bit of experimentation, but that's a tiny sample size, colored through the perceptions of you being her father, and (it sounds like) not having a background in psychology. There has been extensive scientific study on these topics, and it's pretty well established that your daughter's consciousness has changed. Being able to control her limbs and tongue does not constitute consciousness.

      I don't mean that as an insult against you or your daughter, by the day. It's just that newb

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        My bottom line: she was always conscious. It was not that her consciousness changed, but the physical architecture, in terms of muscle control, methods of communication, energy levels, and emotionally coming to terms with the end of the world she had formerly known that had been the changes.

        You may have done a little bit of experimentation, but that's a tiny sample size, colored through the perceptions of you being her father, and (it sounds like) not having a background in psychology. There has been extensive scientific study on these topics, and it's pretty well established that your daughter's consciousness has changed. Being able to control her limbs and tongue does not constitute consciousness.

        I don't mean that as an insult against you or your daughter, by the day. It's just that newborns have very limited awareness and understanding of what's going on around them.

        I would argue that *humans* have very limited awareness and understanding of what's going on around them. We are mostly limited by our visual cortex's representation of reality which is only slightly augmented by our sensory inputs (we can only sense an extremely limited amount about our environment). We mostly spend our lives living out the allegory of cave of our own creation.

        What many call "consciousness" is probably mostly just the brain focusing attention. In the human brain, this happens mostly in

  • Word games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:33AM (#55231005) Homepage

    To some degree, this just sounds like playing word games, and coming up with new terms to sound like you've discovered something. Traditionally, there has been a distinction between sentience and consciousness. If you just want to say that babies feel and experience things, that's sentience and not necessarily consciousness. We can redefine the word "consciousness" to mean "sentience" and invent the word "meta-consciousness" to mean "consciousness", but you haven't really accomplished anything.

    The concept of consciousness has been explored and modified over the past few thousand years (at least, we have records of people writing about it that far back), and it's fair to want to modify it some more. However, I think there's been a general view for a while that newborns are sentient but don't have much consciousness, and then we develop consciousness as we grow up. There seem to be developmental periods where our brains become capable of understanding certain things, and debatably those constitute different levels of consciousness and awareness, but again, that debate will be as much about what terms you want to use as it will be about our actual understanding of human development.

  • Consciousness (Score:5, Informative)

    by Translation Error ( 1176675 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:35AM (#55231013)
    When I first read it, the summary sounded pretty inane, but the Scientific American post goes much deeper and is actually pretty interesting.
  • Who is the "you" you're referring to? i.e. Who didn't know this already?

  • by Artem Tashkinov ( 764309 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @09:54AM (#55231121)

    What is abundantly clear is that we try to simply consciousness way too much and it's a far more complex phenomenon than we're led to believe when we read its quite simplistic definitions. While these definitions do a good job of describing how consciousness operates, they don't even begin to scratch the surface of what consciousness really is.

    It might be possible that consciousness is a quantitative property of any neurological system which also means that consciousness has varying degrees, ranging from simple worms to what human beings experience. Which also means that's it's really hard to define the lower limit of consciousness which also means that even inanimate objects might be considered conscious. And we go further we might arrive at the conclusion that consciousness is a property of this universe and everything in it including quarks and radiation.

    • From the blog post: "Instead, they [children] are conscious from the get-go".

      God, not so fast! Could you define this "get-go", please? Is it when a sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell? Or some time later? And if some time later then when exactly [unsw.edu.au]? At 2 weeks? 3? 4? 5? 20? 40?

  • All I can say is: duuuuuuuuuuuude, you just blew my mind. But, like, is my mind really my mind?
  • When people ask me if I believe that life begins at conception, I tell them that I believe that life begins at consciousness. To which they sometimes respond, "Well, some people never reach consciousness." Yes, exactly.

    • I've always thought that the idea that conception was a singular moment in time, easily defined, and not itself a process with a gradient was interestingly wrong, too. People like black and white answers but when you look at the details there's always gradients everywhere.
  • "Newborns clearly seem to experience their own bodies, environment, the presence of their parents, etcetera -- albeit in an unreflective, present-oriented manner. And if it always feels like something to be a baby, then babies don't become conscious. Instead, they are conscious from the get-go. "

    If THAT is what you are calling consciousness, the self-aware higher order though which makes humans... humans then you've set the bar so low that pretty much all life (and certainly anything with a CNS) and even ro
  • I remember things back to 3 weeks of age - I was aware and thinking at that point. I would guess that consciousness goes back to before birth because there is nothing magical about 3 weeks or birth that would all of a sudden turn on consciousness.

  • I'm one of those people who just remembers more than is typical. I've also had a ball learning deep meditation. A neat side effect is recalling very old memories.

    We suppress them because pre-conscious thinking is very different than conscious thinking. They don't fit our "grown up" mold very well, and some of the memories can be very uncomfortable. With a practiced and steeled mind they could be frightening in their alienness.

    I recall my consciousness process which was gradual and somewhat frustrating.

  • If what they claim were actually true, then I know a ton of people who aren't conscious even as adults. It is a simplistic effort to quantify something that is both extremely complex and elusive (as is life it'self). I would agree that infants comprehension of the world starts off very rudimentary, and their attentiveness is also very limited, but anyone who says that babies aren't fully conscious is pushing an agenda or intentionally trying to deceive you. From the moment they are born, babies are both

  • Conscious thought is thought with attention.

    "I want the ball. Throw the ball. I'm watching. Throw it. Let's play ball. Please, please, please throw the ball. OH! OH! Did you just say something about the ball?! Yes! I'm wagging with approval! Throw the ball! Ball! Let's play ball!"

    "Food. Give me food. Food. Are you going to finish that? Food. You have my attention. Food? I want food. Look at me, because I'm cute. You should give me food."

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