Nature of Consciousness - Advaita
Parisi & Watson
niche at AMERITECH.NET
Wed Jul 21 19:10:33 CDT 1999
From: Elizabeth Lisot <Parvatijai at AOL.COM>
To: ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG
<ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG>
Date: Wednesday, July 21, 1999 11:04 AM
Subject: Nature of Consciousness - Advaita
>If consciousness is solely dependent on the brain...and not the other way
>around...then would it not be possible to create consciousness by
>electrically stimulating a brain after death? While a person is living,
>different types of thoughts or sensations can be induced through electronic
>stimulation. But after death, consciousness cannot be induced. Would it not
Consciousness can't be induced after death because it is the highest level
of human functioning. Dead muscles can be made to twitch by electrical
stimulation because muscle contraction is a simple process compared to
consciousness. After all, the capability of consciousness can easily be lost
by a living person, temporarily or permanently, by various kinds of
>as "ordinary" but many people have experienced what are called
>states of consciousness...such as those people who have claimed to be
>consciously aware during death experiences or meditators who experience
>Nirvakalpa Samadhi. The brain may be a biological conduit for consciousness
>to manifest in the material world.
It was indirectly with regard to these non-ordinary states of consciousness
that I began. They can be exotic and overpowering, but the question is
whether they are insights into the overall nature of reality, or merely
products of our nervous systems. And the answer to this question is apt to
hinge on a judgment of whether _all_ mental states are products of our
nervous systems, including sense perception.
>A metaphor may help explain: The brain and cortex are like a light bulb and
>wires. Consciousness is the electrical current. Do not mistake the wires
>bulb themselves as the source of the electricity.
I never identified consciousness with the brain. What I did say was that a
strong case can be made that consciousness and all its contents are
_produced_ by the nervous system. Obviously the process is more than the
instrument, just as the performance of a symphony is more than an orchestra.
But still you can't have the performance without the orchestra, and we don't
attribute any special metaphysical category to a symphonic performance in
order to account for this fact.
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