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What consciousness is for

What is consciousness for? Watch as Mark Solms talks about how feelings relate to consciousness and instinctual drive to survive and reproduce.

Being conscious is about more than being awake, it also feels like something to be awake.

And these feelings give us a clue about what consciousness is for. The reticular activating system is the brain structure responsible for consciousness. It is connected to and activated by other brain structures that monitor your vital signs – such as heart rate, temperature and glucose levels. These brain structures are called ‘need detectors’ and they convey the state of your body through feelings. These feelings tell the organism – you – how it is doing on a biological scale of values for surviving and reproducing. If it feels good, you are motivated to continue; if it feels bad, you want to stop.

Please note that I am not suggesting that you should do more of everything that feels good. What I am saying is that from an evolutionary biological perspective, feeling is the mechanism our consciousness uses to ensure the survival of our body and maximise our chances of reproducing. So when something is good for our survival, it feels good. However this does not mean that everything that feels good is good for our survival. That is why more complex mechanisms are also required. These will be introduced later.

Another important point about consciousness is that it is about you, your own body, how you are feeling. In other words, consciousness is subjective in nature.

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What is a Mind?

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