Christof Koch is a neuroscientist whos work is tied deeply to the task of finding the neurocorrolates of consciousness. That is, locating the parts of our brain that make us experience what it is like to be us.
He proposes that consciousness arises out of complex interactions between neural networks andbelieves that the claustrum (one of the most densely connected structures in the brain) may in fact be the seat of consciousness in our brains.
He has also embraced the philosophical idea of panpsychism, the idea that everything has some degree of consciousness.
In this very intriguing article for Nautilus, he discusses different theories of consciousness and how it arises in different sentient beings. Like bees…..
“We know that individual bees can fly mazes. They can remember scents. They can return to a distant flower. In fact, they can communicate with each other, through a dance, about the location and quality of a distant food source. They have facial recognition and can recognize their beekeeper. Under normal conditions, they would never sting their beekeeper; it’s probably a combination of visual and olfactory cues.
Their brains contain roughly a million neurons. By comparison, our brains contain about 100 billion, so a hundred thousand times more. Yet the complexity of the bee’s brain is staggering, even though it’s smaller than a piece of quinoa. It’s roughly 10 times higher in terms of density than our cortex. They have all the complicated components that we have in our brains, but in a smaller package. So yes, I do believe it feels like something to be a honey bee. It probably feels very good to be dancing in the sunlight and to drink nectar and carry it back to their hive. I try not to kill bees or wasps or other insects anymore.”
This is a very interesting article that I recommend spending a little time reading and then mulling over.
Now I’m no neuroscientist, but my own belief is that consciousness is not located in everything (panpsychism) but the inverse….. that everything is located in consciousness (analytical idealism). That is, consciousness is the fundamental thing and that everything we see and experience (from snickers bars to shooting stars) is what consciousness looks like through the limiting filters of our brain. More on that here.
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