Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho writes that Human consciousness is at risk. For the reader that is wondering what is meant by "human consciousness", I recommend two books.
The easy and fun book is Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy. The format pretends to be an irreverent pop psychology self help quiz. Unlike most such quizzes, the questions are quite penetrating, with "thought experiments" in the form of entertaining short stories. In the middle, is a short introduction to semiotics, a discipline which attempts to create functional maps of the symbols in our brain with which we think. The key concept, is that while people are arguing over biological evolution, the real mystery is the explosion of consciousness (self awareness) and civilization that began around 10000 years ago. The brain, whether designed or evolved or both, is a suitable receptacle for words and symbols, and these words and symbols are the basis of thought and consciousness. They do not arise spontaneous in the brain, but are transmitted from society. For example, Helen Keller had the behaviour of an animal, with only limited trainability, until her teacher finally made for her the fateful association of the finger sign for "water" and the water flowing from a pump. That spark ignited an explosion of consciousness, and she went on to develop great intelligence. Percy describes how modern consciousness results in selves that are isolated from the world.
Posted 1/21/2012 at 9:51 PM