How does consciousness work?


In model A, consciousness is a kind of soul that interacts with the brain. In model B, consciousness is just a name for some high-level patterns that emerge within a brain. In model C, consciousness is something that watches, but does not interact with the brain.

I think model A is what people have believed for a long time. It is a model compatible with God and free will. Model B is what most of my sciencey friends believe. It essentially says that consciousness is a high-level pattern, and if someone could simulate the functioning of a human on a chalkboard, then consciousness would exist within the pattern of chalk on the board somehow.

I tend to think we could simulate a human on a chalkboard, which suggests that model A is out for me, but I doubt that consciousness would exist within the pattern of chalk itself, which suggests that model B is out for me too. Model C is interesting to me. It suggests that humans are like characters in the book-of-the-universe, which is a large book with many parallel universes, in which everything happens according to deterministic laws. Human consciousness happens when someone reads about a human in the book, and it has to do with how they interpret what's going on with that human's brain.

However, model C has some issues. First, it suggests that the brain itself would do what it does whether or not any entity was watching it, which suggests that my brain would write this blog post even if nothing was watching it, i. e., even if it wasn't conscious. But that is strange, since this blog post is a pretty strong assertion by my brain that consciousness is happening within it.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that this blog post accurately describes what I'm talking about when I say "consciousness", so it may only seem to me that it asserts the existence of a particular phenomenon I call consciousness. Another reader may interpret it to be asserting the existence of some different phenomenon, based on their context and experience.

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