The ÆPT meaning of consciousnessT (and more)
The T-tag serves as a demarcation of the ÆPT meaning of the word "consciousness" from how the word is conventionally meant (it normally is only very vaguely meant). This tag can also serve as a reminder of that a Tolerance-principled intellectual attitude might be required in order to accEPT and adopt the ÆPT understanding of consciousnessT.
[A "Tolerance principled attitude" is an ÆPT reinterpretation and application of the "Principle of Tolerance" — one that was coined, but not quite ÆPTly meant, by Jacob Bronowski.]
ConsciousnessT implicitly refers to particular patterns of activity in neural actention selection serving systems (ASSSs); and to that such "patterns" can occur at 3 gross neuroanatomical levels.
These 3 levels "come on line" in brainspacetime so consciousT states are manifestations of (emerged from and involve) the fundamental 'quantum-weird' layer of reality.
ConsciousnessT can thus also be crudely (but both aptly and conveniently) divided into "1st line", "2nd line" and "3rd line" consciousnessT.
The notion of the 3 "lines of consciousness" was (AFAIK) coined by Arthur Janov and Michael Holden.
Here is a nice short lecture about consciousness in non-human animals:
Apropos Michael Holden:
He turned into a most glaring example of how fervent and deeply felt religious ideas and beliefs can take hold in an otherwise obviously highly intelligent adult.
That is, totally irrational but symbolic ideas given rise to in part by a potentially overwhelming output of excitatory messages emanating from neurons registering traumatically deprived social needs; that is, messages sent from the core of a correspondingly originated CURSES.
[A most basic social human need is to immediately from birth obtain reassuring stimulation through the sense of touch.]
In the case of Holden the SHI-type threat he ended up under and survived around the time of his birth contributed very strongly and significantly to the insidious burden of CURSES that he carried (or still carries) in his brain (or in his central neural Actention selection serving System, or AS for short).
Michael Holden eventually ended up becoming irretrievably locked-in to a fervently religious type of defense against the insidious threat (a potentially totality debilitating or maladaptively motivating such) posed by the totality of all his psycho-emotional wounds (i.e. the compound of CURSES he had incurred).
His EAVASIVEness, while not unique, can serve as a pointer to the vast variety of EAVASIVE personalities/beliefs/pursuits that we humans evolved to have a capacity for.
More generally, EAVASIVE mindsets, such as those of religious faiths, protects against a collapse of an individual's capacity to cope with CURSES.
Religious experiences and beliefs are two closely related states of consciousnessT that achieve a protective unconsciousnessT of the potential kind of consciousnessT that otherwise would tend to arise from CURSES incurred from SHIT type circumstantial challenges (adverse environmentally presented types of influences that 'put' CURSES).
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd "lines" of consciousnessT arouse in that same order in phylogeny as they become possible in ontogeny (developmentally).
1st-line consciousnessT must always be "online" (in brainspacetime) to an extent sufficient to keep us alive (except when substituted by technologies that keep people alive during heart or lung transplant surgery). 2nd and 3rd line (or level) of consciousnessT "come on line" or get to predominate (on line) in that same order when we awake from nocturnal sleep or during the gradual recovery from general anaesthetics after surgery.
A particular predominantly switched-on neural circuitry that is largely what is ÆPTly meant by a correspondingly particular level (or combination of levels), emotional mode, intensity, and specific sensory content of "a consciousT state" — or, to approximately paraphrase a famous pioneering brain scientist of old who put such a pattern poetically: a particular temporary 'weaving of an enchanted [neuroelectric] loom' — is in most or perhaps all cases not (yet) possible to make a precisely defining 'map' of.
However, this limitation of neuroscience does not preclude the ÆPT conclusion that: Every different behavior or preoccupation of ours correspond to a structurally different actention module (or set of functionally compatible such actention modules).
A particular consciousT state corresponds (more or less regularly or irregularly and always to some extent temporarily) to the firing of particular assembly (circuitry) of excitatory neurons and their commensurately increased metabolic activity.
By the way, the ÆPT recognition of the role played by neurometabolic activity in consciousnessT justifies or provides an basis for the concEPT of "specific/synaptic hibernation" (or SH for short); Hence, it does the same for the closely related concEPT of circumstantial threats that require or demand or "implore" (as if any threat "beg" to be survived 😏) by means of SH.
However, this apparent absurdity of the concEPT of "SH imploring threats" is only decEPTively silly (if at all) because, according to the ÆPT definition of threats of "SH imploring type", no ended up under "SHI type" threat can be adaptively coped with without SH.
When a particular state of consciousnessT arises it always does so in context of (and always preceded by) a 'quasi competition' of functionally and/or adaptively incompatible actention modules.
Any kind of "paid actention" (primarily "paid" in currency of neurometabolic resources) is ÆPTly seen as a manifestation of a corresponding kind of consciousnessT.
The ÆPT way of grasping (viewing/thinking about) how we and other brainy animals get to overtly behave (including emote), covertly feel, and covertly think as we do, is one that partly involves seeing all these our actentions as the direct results of how individual ASSSs (neural actention selection serving systems) operate like a competition between functionally or adaptively incompatible actention modules — and as a competition that is as if 'cheered and/or booed by an 'audience' consisting of significant current (immediate) and past environmental factors.
A human ASSS can be imagined as an Olympic-sized competition, whereas a very simple neural animal's ASSS (at a stretch even an amoebic animal with sub-cellular functures that constitute its ASSS and that represent its sparse repertoire of actentions) would then be imagined to be a small competition involving just a few "sports" — i.e. alternative ways it can behave and actively respond.
Actention modules compete by means of mutual inhibition but evolution by natural selection has caused the competition and its competitors to in most cases to be weighted unequally.
While the unequal weights are primarily a legacy of an ASSS's phylogeny (how neo-Darwinian evolutionary pressures have played out) the weights can also be added to or subtracted from by 1. epigenetically encoded experiences (including experiences that are known for sure to have been epigenetically inherited and passed on for a couple of generations — even, perhaps, a few more?) and 2. by in individuals' own lifetimes conditioned-in consequences of challenges of opportunity type and threat type — not least by threat type challenges of SHI type and the CURSES that circumstantial challenges of SHI type do (if survived) leave behind.
In this competition between mutually incompatible actention modules (within an ASSS) some actention modules temporarily step up on the "winners' podium" (and become part of an ASSS's consciousnessT) while others don't and remain in an quiescent or dynamically abiding — insufficiently environmentally prompted or suppressed — state.
All competing actention modules are dependent on a few actention modules that more or less completely lack "competitors" and that are almost always assured of winning until the death of the ASSS in which they perform a vital function from within their location in their ASSS' lowest neural layer. These largely competition-less actention modules consist of the neural circuits that make a heart beat, causes us to breath, and perpetuate our peristalsis.
Now follows some more redundant reiterations:
ConsciousnessT ÆPTly refers to a dynamic pattern in the brainspacetime of a (brainy) individual's modular neural actention selection serving system. It is a "pattern" with a subjectivity that is generated only within its two topmost layers (~ the layer that generates pain fear pleasure) and the topmost cognitive layer that generates perceptions and concepts such as e.g. concEPTs.
Any content of consciousnessT corresponds to a specific (but typically not specifiable) set of functionally compatible actention module that is predominantly active at the cost of it being primarily paid in the currency of neurometabolic resources.
The patterns of neural firing in brainspacetime that are ÆPTly defined as consciousnessT range from those corresponding to any content of any of the 3 gross (only very approximate) levels or layers of the ASSS.
An essential or fundamental neural component of consciousnessT — one that is was the first to emerge in the phylogeny of fauna and is the first to emerge in the ontogeny of neural enough animals, is firing RAT-neurons.
["RAT" stands for "reticular activating type".]
Any particular paid actention is a content of consciousnessT.
It is ÆPT to conclude that consciousnessT requires the firing of RAT neurons. That is neither the simplest and lowest level of evolved consciousnessT nor consciousnessT at a highest level (e.g. abstract symbolic thinking dependent on language functions) would be possible without "firing RAT neurons".
In other words, the firing of RAT neurons is required for the particular patterns of neurometabolic and neuroelectric activity that correlate with an animal's subjective experiences (states of consciousnessT).
There are different types (levels, contents and intensities) of consciousnessT.
E.g. it may exist at a 'somatosensory level', a feeling (limbic cortical) level, or at a cognitive (neocortical) level (with or without the involvement of internal speech); It has a specific sensory content, e.g. that of a kid trying to ride a bicycle for the first time; It will exist with a particular degree of intensity (corresponding to the firing frequency of RAT-neurons); And it will have a particular emotional quality, e.g. whether distressful, 'neutral' (unemotional or detached) or eustressful.
The content of a consciousT state might involve different subjective feelings and different kinds of likewise subjective perceptions. What kind of perceptions depends on the physical properties of what is being neurally represented or modeled such as, e.g., a perception of one color or another depending on the light absorbing properties of what is looked at. And what kind of feeling depends on how detrimental or how beneficial what is sensed is (likewise sensorially) assessed (evaluated by the individual ASSS) to be.
"Feeling actentions" such as hostility, friendliness, rage, joy, fear, pain/empathy, sadness, jealousy (etcetera) exemplify "2nd line" consciousnessT (a capability of mammalian type brains).
However, a human ASSS endowed with language-functions can maintain 3rd-line consciousnessT (pay ditto actention) to the exclusion of manifestations of 2nd-line consciousnessT.
It can even do so up to a point suppressing (postponing) 1st-line consciousnessT (of states such as hunger or need to use a toilet) — do so e.g. by playing chess, or being embroiled in some other intellectual activity.
It may not be possible to identify all neurons involved in producing a particular actention, but purely theoretically (or in principle) it would be possible to dissect away lots of neurons that are not part of producing a particular level or content of a state of consciousnessT.
Which particular neurons or neural circuits are involved in different states of consciousnessT (different paid/focused actentions) will tend to be found out with increasing clarity to the extent that high resolution functional brain imaging technologies will improve.
However, consciousnessT will remain a temporary emerged dynamic state in brainspacetime. And, hence, the knowledge of "what it is" won't get past the fact that everything is in the end a reflection of the quantum realm of what is going on; And so, consciousnessT will always have to be understood with an in-dEPTh and "Tolerance Principled" intellectual attitude.
[A "tolerance principled attitude" is an ÆPT reinterpretation and application of the "Principle of Tolerance" that was coined, but not ÆPTly meant, by Jacob Bronowski.]
ConsciousnessT (meant in an uncommonly congealed conservative science-aligned and very simple ÆPT sense) most generally refers ÆPTly to patterns of activity in neural actention selection serving systems, patterns that can occur at 3 gross levels and as if "come on line" in a brainspacetime (underpinned by the fundamental 'quantum-weird' layer of reality) as "1st line" then "2nd line" and lastly "3rd line" consciousnessT.
A specific, predominantly switched on, neural circuitry that is part of the ÆPT definition of a particular content level (and intensity or more or less sharp focus) of a consciousT state — or to paraphrase a famous pioneering brain scientist of old: a particular temporarily 'weaving of an enchanted (neuroelectric) loom' — is in most case and instances not possible to precisely define. However, this fact does not preclude the ÆPT conclusion that every different behavior or preoccupation of ours can aptly be thought to correspond to a structurally different actention module.
A particular consciousT state arises (more or less regularly or irregularly and always to some extent temporarily) in complete correspondence with the firing of particular assembly (circuitry) of excitatory neurons and their commensurately increased metabolic activity.
When a particular state of consciousnessT arises (when a metabolically fueled and firing actention module become temporarily dominant within an individual ASSS) it most typically does so in context of (and preceded by) a 'quasi competition' by mutual inhibition among actention modules that by ontogeny are largely not weighted equally. These inequalities are primarily a legacy of evolutionary patterning tendency brought about by a combination of both constructive and destructive naturally selective evolutionary pressures.
As already mentioned, it is ÆPT to abbreviate the concEPTual surrogate for "Nervous System" or "brain", so that it be spelled (with 3 Ss) as ASSS, all the way to as tersely (with a single S) as "AS".
Some (neural) actention modules (that 'compete' in brainspacetime) may never get a chance to be anything but in an 'abiding' state (never more than just 'a potentially fully and predominantly activated' module) until the death of the individual (whose ASS it is). [A neural individual's death is here defined as the total and irretrievable disintegration of its enitre functional system of cells (including its ASSS).
The 1st and lowest level of consciousnessT (of individual animals "paying actention") is the earliest to individually develop and come "on line" and the first to have emerged in the phylogeny of fauna.
The 2nd level of consciousnessT involve (corresponds to) more functionally complex (more highly evolved) neural patterns of activity manifesting as our (and other animal’s) feelings — much of which are represented by various kinds of overt emotional responses.
The 3rd level of consciousnessT corresponds to cognitive representations of what we sense (level one) and feel (level 2). This level of consciousnessT exist with or without our possibly unique (or at least uniquely potent) capacity for symbolic language.