Levels of Consciousness – Consciousness has stages but it also has levels. The two levels of consciousness that I present here are of great interest to me. It has taken me a lifetime to even begin to come to experience and gain some understanding of the different levels of consciousness. I now realize these levels influence each other, sometimes oppose, and are always interacting with one another. The levels of consciousness are:
Conscious level (C) is associated with the material sensorial and immaterial cognitive. The conscious level pertains to the Neocortex, alertness, surface, or the awake stage of consciousness. Up to this point, I have concentrated on awake consciousness (except when discussing sleep and dreams). However, consciousness is not all alert, surface level, or awake. In fact, the majority of consciousness is below alert awareness and is unconscious. Often a fine line exists between consciousness and unconsciousness. Two major questions I ask are, “How does consciousness and unconsciousness influence one another?” and “How does consciousness and unconsciousness interact when it comes to awareness and comprehension?” There is a huge interplay, interaction, overlap, and the potential of working together between the conscious and the unconscious worlds.
Unconscious level (CU) is more associated with the Limbic Brain, however there is unconsciousness in various areas of our brain. That is, evolutionary interconnective forces have some unconsciousness and memory in several brain structures. The unconscious level intersects with our emotions and has association with sleep, memories, and dream stages of consciousness. It is a deeper level of memory and awareness. Human needs not being met can surface during sleep, dreams, and in memories. Unconscious repressed emotions can bleed and intrude into consciousness. Unconsciousness is what we do not have in consciousness. There are techniques that can pull-up unconscious material to conscious awareness, comprehension, and understanding (discussed in future posts). Karl Jung suggested that, “for more than fifty years we have known, or could have known, that there is an unconscious as a counter balance to consciousness.” (1957) Unconsciousness is more intuitive and emotive (especially the more primal emotions of intense sadness, fear, and anger). Unbelievable, but as much as 99% of physiological data processing is unconscious. It is estimated unconsciousness can anatomically process 20,000,000 stimuli per second. However, consciousness processes a mere 40 stimuli per second. Metaphorically the levels of consciousness can be compared to an Iceberg, with the tip of the Iceberg being the small conscious part and below the water the massive unconscious part. Note: Sigmund Freud also refers to a subconscious world.
Process of Consciousness – Our brain is in a constant state of consciousness having various degrees of intensity. William James referred to a “stream of consciousness” (1890) –> maybe a river of consciousness? A river of consciousness allowing for a river of cognition? William James considered consciousness to be like a stream that flows where various degrees of consciousness come and go, all depending on the amount of sensorial input. I recognize that there is a stream of consciousness connecting awakefulness, sleep, and dreaming. For indeed. at all stages of consciousness we are receiving some form of outer and inner environmenatal input. However, I only agree with William James and his stream of consciousness up to a point. For I maintain there really is no single stream of consciousness.
The human brain has quantum wave-particle underpinnings and competing branches of neural pathways, interconnections, transmitters, and inputs all making for various paths of consciousness. I view consciousness as not so much being a uni-directional flowing stream, but more as taking multi-directional paths that branch out. I agree that there is a steady stream of conscious input, but once entered this input involves a process that moves in different directions all depending upon the amount and intensity of the input. I agree with Aristotle that the mind is a process of consciousness where there is a systematic series of interactions moving in parallel directions. I agree with Edward O Wilson who suggested, “consciousness consists of the parallel processing of vast numbers of such coding networks.” (1998) I view consciousness as a process, and I make a cogent argument that consciousness emulates the many processes found in Nature. Consciousness is a process that involves thoughts and how thoughts are involved in awareness, comprehension, and the accumulation of useable knowledge (review the CACK Model). So, is consciousness a stream, a process, or both?
Stages of Consciousness have something to do with the degree and the depth of awareness, comprehension, and knowing (review CACK Model). Stages concern the sensorial knowing of environmental input from one’s eyes, ears, smell, touch, and taste. The stages involve the level of attentional and selectional focus of incoming environmental stimuli. The stage is the degree of consciousness of sensorial input, and trying to be aware, comprehend and understand that experiential input. Consciousness stages are related to, and include the amount of material sensorial alertness, and the amount of immaterial thinking involved in awareness and comprehension. I classify conscious input according to the following three stages:
1.) Awake is real time consciousness of current data input and experiences. It is beta brain waves of 15-40 hz. Awake consciousness, theoretically is what we have most control over.
2.) Asleep consciousness is when we are sleeping. There is consciousness while sleeping, but it is much more subjective because inner sensorial input is limited. Sleeping subjective consciousness can be intense, especially as we go into ever deeper levels of sleep because in deeper levels of sleep we are less guarded.
3.) Dreaming is the deepest stage of sleep and is mainly composed of delta brain waves. There is little outer sensorial input (if any) while dreaming—> input is mainly internal. However, dreams are influenced by the external world’s awake consciousness. Awake life can “follow” us into our dream world. Unfiltered dreams can allow for our inner most nature to come through. Dreams are a major source of guidance. Dreams are trying to tell us something. Dreams that are pushed-up into consciousness have the ability to give us excellent feedback.
Noam Chomsky maintained we have a genetic natural ability to acquire language. He said humans have an innate universal grammar sense and we are born with cognitive abilities. If true, this suggests humans are gifted with a foundational language ability that gives us a capacity to think symbolically. As language symbolically expands it leads to greater enhancement of consciousness, awareness, comprehension, and knowledge (review CACK Model). As language broadens it evolves from concrete thinking to critical thinking. In a post to come, I will point out that language is also important at the unconscious level. Language’s contribution to humanities huge increase in useable knowledge has greatly enhanced our species ability to survive. Language involves words and the ideas built on words. Words are powerful —> it is indeed true that the pen is more powerful than the sword. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian engineer, logician, and philosopher argued that it is putting the words together into sentences that conveys meaning. It is sentences that additionally extend a languages capacity in giving awareness, comprehension, and a greater understanding of our world. I think about people who have multilingual abilities, and how they can additionally extend their critical thinking capabilities. I maintain that multilingualism surely includes a switch-on epigenetic effect. When language is put to paper, writing essentially becomes another vehicle to enhance thinking. Writing amounts to thinking put to paper. For the Theory Balanceology, I put my thoughts to paper. Confucius was wise enough to understand that words shape what is happening in our life. He said it is words that shape ideas and thoughts. I agree that expanded vocabulary greatly increases our consciousness and our thinking capabilities and that influences how we experience life.
Language probably started 30-40,000 years ago with Cro-magnon man. The written form of language is about 6,000-7,000 years old; i. e when we begin transporting language to paper. With this transportation we begin to record a written history of ourselves on paper. For Karl Peter, oral and written “language facilitated and greatly expands the range of cultural items we transmit to one another.” (2002) We all learn the language of our culture, and normative cultural behaviors are largely taught to us through language. Archaeological evidence suggests the birth home for human beings is Africa (i. e. Out of Africa), and phonetics suggests that the birth home for language is also Africa (i. e. Out of Africa). I have wondered, and I have asked myself with Africa being the biological birth home for our species and also the home of phonetics, “How much of this genetic and linquistic overlap has made for some similarity, maybe some intermixture of all modern languages?”