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by Ritika Basu
(Prayagraj, UP, India)

Consciousness: An Effort to Demystify

Consciousness has been the topic for discussion since inception. Scientists have long been trying to comprehend consciousness and its evolution. It is a state of awareness, but it is often confused with mental alertness, where your ability to survive better will enhance, but that is not awareness, which means being in the present. There used to be a postulation that consciousness is a product of the human brain. But there were arguments to counteract this assumption; first, there is no evidence supporting this idea, and second, an anomaly is found between consciousness and brain functioning. Many philosophers (such as David Chalmers and Thomas Nagel) and scientists like Christof Koch and Tononi denied that consciousness is a result of brain activity. They have turned to the alternative view that it is a fundamental quality of the universe, like energy.

Consciousness has many levels; predominately, I will talk about three degrees. The lowest level is "I," where we believe that we are separable from the rest of the world. We believe that nothing is essential and unique, more so than others. Then the second level is "We," here comes the group consciousness, which will separate one category to another and might lead to conflicts. The third level is of the highest dimension; everyone should aspire to be in that zone, and that is. "Us." Appearance is of no relevance, but the soul takes the highest priority, here cultures, belief, education all get shifted as a connection between all
of us. This is the state of awakening, leading to Spirituality when awareness level heightens. What level of intensity your life is functioning, that's the level of awareness you have. Each level of awareness has a role to play in shaping human behaviour and thought.

One of the most popular Western theories is that of Sigmund Freud, medical doctor, and father of psychoanalytic theory. According to Freud, thoughts, and emotions outside of our awareness continue to exert an influence on our behaviours, even though we are unaware (unconscious) of these underlying influences. So consciousness determines behaviour. Humans have the most sophisticated and complex cognition than other species. Like other living beings, humans need sleep, food, shelter, but apart from these, humans have language and expression, which motivates humans to think. Decision making comes through self-awareness. Your decision will influence your behaviour. The primary function of consciousness is to allow us to predict our behaviour. We might account for someone's actions or emotional expressions through our knowledge of that individual and our careful observations of their practice. In this way, we often display substantial insight into what they are thinking. Other times we are entirely wrong. In many situations, people generate a reason for an action that has nothing to do with the actual basis of the decision to act in a particular way. We all have a propensity to produce a reasonable explanation for our behavior retrospectively, yet our response is often the result of unconscious mental processing, not conscious volition.

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