QR6.3.12 The Nature of Consciousness

The cascade theory of human consciousness answers common questions about it as follows:

1. What is consciousness? Consciousness began as the quantum ability to observe a physical event. In our case, the body senses physical events that nerves report and analyze for features that combine into an observation that has no physical basis. We know how nerves combine observed pixels but are just learning how quantum observers combine by neural synchrony. Even in the womb, some nerves process data and others generate brain waves because they must generate an observer as well as an observation, so when a baby looks at you intently, it may be forming the observer as well as the observed. Human consciousness is the brain’s ability to entangle nerves into a single “I” that observes the world registered by nerves.

2. What causes consciousness? The primary cause is that quantum entities can observe physical events but to observe on a human scale requires brains to create a bigger observer. The cause of human consciousness is the brain entangling nerves to create a quantum observer.

3. Is consciousness physical? Every physical event is an observation result so what observes it can’t also be physical, as that would be circular. If consciousness was physical, we could put it in a bottle, but what constantly creates the bottle can’t be contained in it. If a non-physical electro-magnetic field causes consciousness, then it can’t be physical either.

4. Is consciousness continuous? A physical observation is an event not a thing so experiences are intermittent not continuous, but that which experiences can constantly exist.

5. What does consciousness do? Consciousness provides the being that observes and chooses, whether at the cell or human scale. Acquiring consciousness is the only way a complex body system can act as a single entity. Imagine an online game where players discussed “What does the player do?” Some say the player is the one who observes and chooses but those who see only the game see no “player” in it, so they conclude there is no such thing. They say, “If players exist, point to one in the game!” but no-one can do that, yet the game only exists for its players. In essence, consciousness provides the “players” in the game of physical reality. 

6. Why is consciousness singular? Brain areas work in parallel but can only form one synchrony at a time, to give one conscious experience at a time. Consciousness is singular because the brain-wide resonance that creates it is singular.

7. Why does the conscious experience never fail? Brain states that give entirely new smells or feelings are experienced with no more effort than familiar ones. How does consciousness know what experience to generate each time, without fail? If the conscious cascade builds up from individual nerve observations, the experience is built up from scratch each time. Consciousness never fails because every experience is generated from the ground up.

8. Can consciousness change? If consciousness is caused by neural synchrony, it can increase or decrease as nerves join or leave the ensemble. This may be why “I” take a while to fully wake up after sleeping. Consciousness increases as the brain synchronizes better, so one can be more or less conscious over a day or lifetime. Consciousness can decay by dissociation, as in multiple personality cases. A brain-generated consciousness can grow or shrink over time.

9. Can consciousness observe itself? An observation is an observer-observed interaction where the observer isn’t the observed. In our reality, an observer can observe itself by dividing into observing and observed parts. A brain can do this, as the intellect can observe the emotions as interpreter theory proposes, but consciousness as an entanglement has no parts to split into, so it can’t do that. Yet somehow, the ability to observe includes knowing that we observe. To identify with the observer not the observed may underlie the Gnostic saying “Know Thyself”.

Human consciousness makes us special among the animal kingdom but how did it evolve?