Being in dialogue with oneself and being an actor in one’s own acts is one of the most important reflective faculties that philosophy has ever contributed. Yes, as redundant and far-fetched as it sounds; the approach is one of the most transcendent and discussed to this day because it implies taking responsibility for the consequences of any choice made.
“There are behaviors that change in and of themselves away from the sensible experience.”
More than 2,300 years ago, the basis for this internal thought, so relevant to our society, was laid by Plato, that philosopher so ancient and so relevant to Western ideas about what is human. He positions consciousness as the relationship of the soul with itself, the dialogue that is generated with a language capable of asking and answering at the same time.
“If consciousness is more than the set of general cognitive activities it is because they are executed far from the experienced.”
This does not imply - to avoid confusion - that spiritual interiority is paramount to the Platonic assumption, but rather that it is language itself and the ability to use it as a useful tool in moments of recollection, opinion, knowledge and reasoning. All this clearly encompasses different times of experience and different feelings around the experience.
Of course, marking the distance that the soul has from sensible matters; if consciousness is more than the set of general cognitive activities, it is because they are executed far from what is experienced. It remembers, thinks and reasons with a considerable separation.
And it is taking up this that the neuroscientist Giulio Tononi, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, exactly at the Center for Sleep and Consciousness, presents his theory of integrated information, which accepts that consciousness presents itself in us in the way Plato expounded it centuries ago: it is an internal cause-effect capacity on itself.
“Consciousness is not an air name given to certain kinds of responses or a metaphysical faculty.”
Melanie Boly, a neurologist who accompanies Tononi during his research, explains this in more detail; for consciousness to truly exist - which seems feasible according to studies - it must be a movement that is caused by itself and make a real change in its behavior. According to the mathematical frameworks for the development of this measurement, in effect, something similar happens at the neuronal level; there are behaviors that change in and of themselves away from the sensible experience.
As revealed by the research, consciousness is not an air name given to certain types of responses or a metaphysical (or fanciful) faculty for certain acts, it is in truth a unique and present power in the mind that is exercised to react in the way we do.
Researchers claim that there will never be a way to prove or generate a thousand percent theory of consciousness, but the one presented by Tononi and company is sufficient scientific evidence to validate a philosophical assumption that was put forward long before our era.
To continue exploring how philosophy is linked to our contemporary practices in the field of science, read 9 ideas to understand quantum physics from a philosophical perspective and 9 habits to be a skeptic according to Carl Sagan.
Story originally published in Cultura Colectiva in Spanish