Consciousness - It is simply the awareness of what we, as human beings, are doing, feeling, saying, or thinking. It is an enigma, and yet it is the only thing we truly know is in existence. A great philosopher once said "Cogito ergo sum", or "I think, therefore I am." It is likely one of the most profound realizations in history. It is an understanding of the fact that one's consciousness is indispensible proof to that individual that they, in some manner and form, exist. We are not truly sure of anything but consciousness, but it is the one thing that has eluded any definite explanation throughout history.

So what is consciousness? It seems certain that it is not physical. It is the mind, and it seems detached from the body.

With individuals suffering from epileptic seizures, a common method of solving the problem was to split the brain into its left and right hemispheres, essentially severing all cerebral interstate highways, and leaving ones brain with only shoddy dirt roads to connect the right and left. However, though this brain, the perceived pivot point of our consciousness--of our observer--seemed now to bear no relation. While patients essentially had two brains, they were still left with only one consciousness, observing thought processes on whichever side it so chose.

But, though the brain seemed to be in some manners detached from the observer, it seems to be understood that the observer thrives on the existence of the brain. But why? What is it about the brain that fosters this home for consciousness? If we could create a robotic brain, with as much power for decision making and understanding as a human, would this brain create the same home for consciousness? But what truly separates a brain from a rock, in it's essentials? A brain is simply an object of more complexity, with chemicals and electricity flowing through it to bring a body towards some goal. Is it possible, then, that consciousness is simply some substance that is attracted towards complexity, or is it even possible that that rock truly has a conscious observer inside of it?

I don't know how to answer these questions, and I don't know if anyone truly does, but I want to hear from you, and maybe we can shed some light on this. 

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

For a long time, the West shaped the world. That time is over.

The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.

  • Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
  • European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
Keep reading Show less

Why modern men are losing their testosterone

Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?

Flickr user Tom Simpson
Sex & Relationships
  • Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
  • While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
  • The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less