What is it? Wikipedia has an article on consciousness, which discusses various aspects of consciousness. However, I’d like to add my observations about my consciousness for others to read. Perhaps others have additional comments.
William James is usually credited with popularizing the idea that human consciousness flows like a stream, in his Principles of Psychology of 1890. According to James, the "stream of thought" is governed by five characteristics: "(1) Every thought tends to be part of a personal consciousness. (2) Within each personal consciousness thought is always changing. (3) Within each personal consciousness thought is sensibly continuous. (4) It always appears to deal with objects independent of itself. (5) It is interested in some parts of these objects to the exclusion of others". A similar concept appears in Buddhist philosophy, expressed by the Sanskrit term Citta-saṃtāna, which is usually translated as mindstream or "mental continuum". Buddhist teachings describe that consciousness manifests moment to moment as sense impressions and mental phenomena that are continuously changing. The teachings list six triggers that can result in the generation of different mental events. These triggers are input from the five senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or touch sensations), or a thought (relating to the past, present or the future) that happen to arise in the mind. The mental events generated as a result of these triggers are: feelings, perceptions and intentions/behaviour. The moment-by-moment manifestation of the mind-stream is said to happen in every person all the time. It even happens in a scientist who analyses various phenomena in the world, or analyses the material body including the organ brain. The manifestation of the mindstream is also described as being influenced by physical laws, biological laws, psychological laws, volitional laws, and universal laws. The purpose of the Buddhist practice of mindfulness is to understand the inherent nature of the consciousness and its characteristics.
"Buddhist teachings describe that consciousness manifests moment to moment as sense impressions and mental phenomena that are continuously changing."
Our senses receive experiences simultaneously; in other words, the sights, sounds, odors, etc. assail all our senses at the same time. Moreover, each different sensation, such as sight and sound, experience many parts of a sight, sound, odor, etc. simultaneously. Our eyes see a changing panorama of many pixels, instant by instant. Our ears hear a changing cacophony of many tones, instant by instant. Our nose smells an emanation of odors from various things, instant by instant. And so on for each of our senses. These senses include things like temperature, pain, balance, and body position and motion. Most of the things we sense are not noticed by our stream of conscious or mind-stream, because our subconscious multi-processing brain decides which of our sensations are most important and feed that data to our stream of conscious. The unremarkable parts of our experience may be forgotten, but we remember many pieces of our experiences. At the same time, we can walk and talk. Our brain is a marvelous parallel processing system.
Our stream of conscious can develop single thread processes, such as computer code by using the same brain that does marvelous parallel processing. Actually, writing code is difficult and fraught with errors, because we don’t have a serial processor in out heads. However, we must have a part of the brain that monitors important or unusual things, like there’s a De Lorian. Truly remarkable things don’t happen often, but our brain continuously feeds things to our mind-stream that may be trivial, like there’s a pretty black stone. Multiple things get our attention, like this ice-cream is good and it is a hot day. In fact, we will generally notice several features of whatever comes into our conscious, like the color, style, and texture of a shirt we are about to wear. Whereupon, we may remember a stain on the shirt and select another without a stain. That is an example of feedback into our conscious by our conscious. In other words, our conscious decision to wear another shirt changed the things our conscious needed to do.
Our stream of conscious often controls what we do. It is a single thought stream fed by many inputs with one preselected by our subconscious for our conscious to ponder.
Edited by EdEarl, 20 March 2017 - 04:19 PM.