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Subject: All living things are conscious -- at different levels

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Date Posted: 09:36:42 12/07/02 Sat
In reply to: chadi 's message, "You didn't curse me? You said "all living things have consciousness, silly....". It seems that someone like you has no consciousness of his cursing. But anyways, I advise you to open your philosophy textbook and read the chapter about "consciousness" or the chapter about "language". then you would be able to read my posts, but not respond to them of course...." on 20:59:57 12/06/02 Fri

Consciousness cannot be defined with a single definition. The reasoning behind my statement is that there are different states of mind that we can define as a level or a type of consciousness. In Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, I found over five definitions of consciousness. David Rosenthal tried to define these different levels by creature consciousness, transitive consciousness and state consciousness. These defining words don’t mean a lot without an explanation.

David Rosenthal uses the term creature consciousness to define the distinction between an awake state and being asleep, knocked out, or unable to interact mentally with the environment in an ordinary way. I don’t like how the author used the word “creature” to define this state of consciousness. I think that “creature” tends to limit other states of consciousness to those that are only human. To my understanding, the state of consciousness that is being defined is the most basic state that people refer to. I think of this simple definition as consciousness verses unconsciousness. An example of when to refer to this state of consciousness would be, “Sam was considered conscious when he woke up from his nap,” Or “Hillary went unconscious when she hit her head wakeboarding.” However, because this is a simple definition it does not go into much depth about consciousness. Therefore, we will see many states of consciousness that are interconnected with this first definition. This will bring us to another state or definition of consciousness.

According to David Rosenthal, transitive consciousness is when a person is aware of something or that something is the case. Becoming aware of something or some thought is somewhat automatic for our being. Our bodies are constantly receiving stimuli. It is up to the mind to interpret stimuli into data. For instance, our eyes take in certain stimuli and then our mind interprets that data into information that is linked to how we think about things and perceive them. However, we are constantly receiving stimuli from our environment. This can cause our minds to think or perceive something and we may not even be aware of those thoughts. This brings me to the author’s last definition of consciousness.

State consciousness applies to the mental state, such as sensing, perceiving, thinking, desiring, and feeling. According to the author, a mental state is conscious just in case one is conscious of it in a way that seems spontaneous and unmediated. To my understanding, this third definition is closely related to the previous state. You can be aware of the state of consciousness that you are in. For example, being aware of your feelings and thoughts helps one to recognize what state of consciousness he is in and using. However, in the previous definition there are times that you are receiving stimuli, but are not aware of it and it later manifests itself through dreams, unexpected behavior, Freudian slips or other spontaneous actions.

In regards to whether or not all living things are conscious I would argue that they are. All living things respond to stimuli and have a dominant control center that interprets the stimuli into information. Therefore, some level of consciousness is found in all living things.

In summary, I do agree with Rosenthal’s idea of different levels of consciousness. However, I hold a different opinion on what the various levels are and the defining terms of each. I also believe that all living things are conscious, but at different levels.

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