Swimming around in a mixture of language and matter, humans occupy a particular evolutionary niche mediated by something we call 'consciousness'. To Professor Nicholas Humphrey we're made up of "soul dust
": "a kind of theatre... an entertainment which we put on for ourselves inside our own heads." But just as that theatre is directed by the relationship between language and matter, it is also undermined by it
. It all depends how you think it.
posted by 0bvious
on Feb 4, 2011 -
We are because of others. We are born into this world with minds as naked as our bodies and we have to rely on others to feed, clothe us, and to teach us to think of ourselves as selves. The key is language -- grammatical speech and human culture build upon the brain's biological capacities to create a mind that is something different again than that with which we are born. We are conscious because we can speak to others and ourselves, because we can speak of ourselves to others and ourselves. Language gives us as individuals, memory, and as groups, culture, the social memory. Or so thought Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky
, among others. Welcome to the the neuronaut's guide to the science of consciousness
posted by y2karl
on Jul 11, 2003 -
What am I?
Clearly the most pressing question facing the human race today. Every individual human brain contains around 10^12 (1 trillion) neurons and 10^15 (1 quadrillion) synapses, capable of changing in milliseconds, and there are 6x10^9 (6 billion) people on this planet, all potentially capable of interacting and influencing one another. Last year alone 1.6x10^11 (160 billion) minutes of international telephone calls were made between people talking at a rate of 120 to 150 words per minute.
A collection of articles at newscientist.com.
posted by mokey
on Jun 14, 2003 -