Could the brain be working without consciousness? Does the brain interact with consciousness? Alternately, is it that consciousness can't really control the brain, and you only have the impression that you make the decisions, but your brain does.

If the answer to the last question is yes, it is impossible to know if someone else has a consciousness? Even if he doesn't, he'll say he does, because the brain thinks he does.

We can't be made only from matter. If we would, we'd be a mix of chemicals interacting with each other. What makes us be aware of our feelings, what we think, and our 5 senses?

When and how is consciousnesses created?

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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, although this is a very well researched area in neuroscience, I think we do not know the answer yet. Anyway good question! I would slightly edit it, however, to make it a bit more "biological" and a bit less phylosophical $\endgroup$ – nico Jun 13 '13 at 7:12
  • $\begingroup$ Note that consciousness and mechanicism are not mutually exclusives. We, at the same time, can be both conscious and mere chemicals. Because this question lie at the limit between philosopy and biology I suggest you to search at http://philosophy.stackexchange.com/, for example here and here. Good question, though. $\endgroup$ – Mattia Rovetta Jun 13 '13 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ "A mix of chemicals interacting with each other" is a great way to describe organisms. $\endgroup$ – kmm Jun 13 '13 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Someone Great question. One point I'd make though is that 'We can't be made only from matter' is a statement that makes assumptions about the nature of matter. Matter is not like Lego. From what I remember from my uni physics courses, matter is actually pretty weird... i.e. non-intuitive. At least on the smallest scales. $\endgroup$ – pandita Nov 6 '13 at 13:00

This question is difficult to answer and in the end, we'll just have to accept that we don't really know (at least for now). My own understanding is that what we call our consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, arising from the extraordinarily complex network of billions of neurons interacting with each other within the brain. Perhaps the rest of the cells in the body - everything that is interconnected - should also be included. This would mean that we are, indeed, "a mix of chemicals interacting with each other", but in my opinion, that does not make being any less meaningful.

As a side note, although this seems to imply determinism, the future behaviour of complex systems such as our brain, or better yet, the entire universe, is impossible to predict accurately with any computing device. We, as well as the universe, are the best simulators of ourselves.

I think it is really difficult to handle questions like this. To start with, how do you even define "consciousness"? Also, I don't think that such a discussion belongs to philosophy; surely any plausible explanation of conciousness must be rooted within the framework of science.


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