Sunday, May 27, 2012

Does Consciousness Exist Independently of Present Time and Present Time Independently of Consciousness?


This is a little mind-bending of a philosophy article, but it's a fun read. From the Open Journal of Philosophy, Birgitta Dresp-Langley and Jean Durup examine the relationship between consciousness and present time and whether or not they can be independent of each other.

They conclude:
human consciousness has evolved from the ability to be aware of, to remember, and to predict temporal order and change in nature, and that the limits of this capacity are determined by limits in the functional plasticity of resonant brain mechanisms. Although the conscious state of the Self is the ultimate expression of this evolution, it is devoid of any adaptive function as such.

I'm not in agreement with this final statement - my sense is that the Self (and our awareness of it) has many adaptive functions. To say that it does not offer any adaptive function is to say that art and literature and music and culture in general (all of which are created by selves and for selves) is not an integral part of our evolutionary trajectory, or that is has not on its own propelled our evolution. As an example, think about Renaissance art and it's move to a 3-dimensional perspective - this was a leap in our perceptual evolution, as well as in our cognitive evolution.

Anyway, it's still a good article.

Does Consciousness Exist Independently of Present Time and Present Time Independently of Consciousness? Open Access

Full Text (PDF, 163KB)   
Author(s): Birgitta Dresp-Langley, Jean Durup

ABSTRACT

While some are currently debating whether time may or may not be an illusion, others keep devoting their time to the science of consciousness. Time as such may be seen as a physical or a subjective variable, and the limitations in our capacity of perceiving and analyzing temporal order and change in physical events definitely constrain our understanding of consciousness which, in return, constrains our conceptual understanding of time. Temporal codes generated in the brain have been considered as the key to insight into neural function and, ultimately, as potential neural substrates of consciousness itself. On the basis of current evidence and opinion from neuroscience and philosophy, we consider the interrelation between consciousness and time in the light of Hegel and Heidegger’s concepts of Sein (Being) and Zeit (Time). We suggest that consciousness can be defined in terms of a succession of psychological moments where we realize that we exist in, and are part of, a present moment in time. This definition places all other perceptual or sensorial processes which may characterize phenomenal experience at a different level of analysis and centers the debate around consciousness on the fundamental identity link between awareness of the Ich (I) and awareness of what Heidegger termed Ursprüngliche Zeit (original time). We argue that human consciousness has evolved from the ability to be aware of, to remember, and to predict temporal order and change in nature, and that the limits of this capacity are determined by limits in the functional plasticity of resonant brain mechanisms. Although the conscious state of the Self is the ultimate expression of this evolution, it is devoid of any adaptive function as such.

Citation:
Dresp-Langley, B. & Durup, J. (2012). Does Consciousness Exist Independently of Present Time and Present Time Independently of Consciousness? Open Journal of Philosophy, 2, 45-49. DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2012.21007

Post a Comment