Self as signal

As a “frontier”, consciousness is without parallel. The scope and scale of its mystery is infinite, for it has the ability to create and to subsume many universes. Making sense of it, therefore, may almost seem like sacrilege or an…

As a “frontier”, consciousness is without parallel. The scope and scale of its mystery is infinite, for it has the ability to create and to subsume many universes. Making sense of it, therefore, may almost seem like sacrilege or an act of hubris. But that has hardly prevented generations of philosophers, scientists and sundry theorists from grappling with the problem of how self-awareness evolved from inert matter. Anoted neuroscientist, who’s also a composer and novelist, has now added his mite to that mountain of theories: in his forthcoming treatise Consciousness and the Social Brain, Princeton scientist Michael Graziano theorises that consciousness may have originated in the Cambrian era half abillion years ago as an offshoot of cellular signal processing. Attention is adata-handling method used by neurons, he says; it is not a substance and it doesn’t flow. But you need control to control the ever-changing focus of attention. That’s how consciousness may have evolved and become increasingly sophisticated. “Just as fins evolved into limbs and then into wings, the capacity for awareness probably changed and took on new functions over time,” he explains. Yogis have traditionally used attention control (chitta-vritti nirodh) to access what they describe as the marvellous inner light of universal awareness. “Subjective experience in (our) theory is something like the myth that the brain tells itself,” Graziano opines. It might also be able to “explain” a few other common “myths” that brains tell themselves such as out-of-body experiences, souls and mental magic! How to use the internet to make moneyHow to choose a term insurance planWhy NPS is the best way to plan for your retirement