What is Consciousness?

Human consciousness is a puzzling phenomenon, and scientists are still striving to define and understand it. When scientists answer the question “what is consciousness” their answer is often something along the lines of “We are not exactly sure.” 

For instance, Simon Blackburn (Cambridge University), when asked to define consciousness responded, “I probably wouldn't try to approach it by definition. I think that is just going to be a can of worms.”

Susan Greenfield, Professor at Oxford, loosely defines consciousness as “the inner subjective state that no one else can hack into.” Another definition of consciousness is an individual's awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, memories and surroundings.

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The Philosophy and Science of Consciousness

Consciousness is a fascinating subject from both a scientific and philosophical perspective. Questions like "why are humans the only beings on earth that possess an awareness of being aware?" and "how is consciousness tied to free will?" are better answered from a philosophical perspective as they start to leave the realm of what science can answer. The articles and videos below dive into the perplexing and vast realm of questions to answer about consciousness, the human brain, and sophisticated language.

origins of consciousness

Origins of Human Consciousness

When did consciousness evolve? How has human consciousness changed over time? There are many possible theories that strive to answer these questions. The videos below discuss aspects of these questions.

Consciousness and the Brain

What is the relationship between the brain, the mind, and consciousness?

consciousness and the brain
consciousness and language

Consciousness and Language

Of the 10–14 million species currently living on Earth and the estimated 5 billion species now extinct, only human beings possess rationality and sophisticated language. Rationality and language as human characteristics appear to have emerged simultaneously and rapidly, and they seem to signify an ontological discontinuity between humans and other animals.

Videos about Consciousness
and related Topics

Watch to learn more about the human brain and mind, language and consciousness.

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Articles about Consciousness
and related Topics

Read more about the human brain and mind, language and consciousness.

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