Monday, January 18, 2016

Consciousness is the preservation of memory over time

I was thinking about death and resuscitation. Instances where a person has died, but are able to be resuscitated, like by doctors after an overdose or trauma. I wondered if the person resuscitated is the same as the person that died and I think this is so.

When the person is resuscitated, they still have all their same memories and end up with the same personality, perhaps slightly altered by the harrowing events that caused their death, but never-the-less still the same person.

This leads me to believe that instead of a soul that would perish on death and be replaced upon resuscitation, the root of the soul is actually the memories and access to them. I suddenly realized I could reduce consciousness almost entirely to just that. Memory.

There is a crucial element missing though, and that is to think of memory as something that is preserved from one moment to the next. As in, through time.

In this aggregate of memories, called You, you can include things like sensory data, language (everything you've ever read or had spoken to you) and also learned behaviors like not touching a hot stove. Indeed a portion of the memories in this aggregate behave much like instructions on how to react to your 5 senses. This includes instances where the 5 senses bring data about complex social interactions, such as with other human beings.

It seems to me that reducing consciousness in this way is elegant and simplifies the matter. It also provides clarity to every single capacity of the mind and consciousness within.

I believe the only objection possible is that the active observer component of consciousness, the part that feels like You, is not explained by this, however one must consider that the things you see, hear, feel, taste and smell through your five senses are also memories being processed within your brain. By the time the brain processes sense data, the event has already occurred, in other words.

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