Conscious Book Summary By Annaka Harris

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Conscious is a captivating investigative book written by Annaka Harris.

In it, she examines the mystery of consciousness and tackles the questions of how we define it and how prevalent it is in our universe.

Through her research and discovery, she explores the implications of its existence in both animate and inanimate objects.

This book is an exploration into the very nature of self-awareness, identity, emotion, behavior, artificial intelligence, spirituality, and more.

Harris brings to light many extrapolations on these matters that will leave readers with much to contemplate.

Conscious Book Summary

Book Name: Conscious (A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind)

Author(s): Annaka Harris

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

Categories: Philosophy

Author Bio

Annaka Harris is an accomplished writer, consultant, and author.

Her work has been featured in the New York Times and she has helped other science writers improve their craft.

In addition to this, Annaka collaborated with a team in producing the Mindful Games Activity Cards.

On top of that, Annaka authored the children's book I Wonder.

Furthermore, she is partnered with podcast host and neuroscientist Sam Harris and they have two lovely children together.

Altogether it is safe to say that Annaka's talents are both wide-ranging and proven.

Is There Life Beyond The Human Consciousness? Examining Different Levels Of Awareness And Communication

Awareness And Communication

If you want to take a deep dive into the workings of the mind and explore what it means to be conscious, then this book is your ticket.

It looks at how consciousness might relate to other traits and how widespread it may or may not be in the universe.

You’ll even find out if there is any external evidence of human consciousness as well as what happens when the brain gets divided in two.

You’ll also delve into some interesting topics like what LSD experiences can tell us about consciousness and communication between trees.

By gaining an understanding of this concept, you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for the way your mind works and interacts with the world around you.

What Does It Mean To Be Conscious? Exploring Our Intuition And Open Minds

In an attempt to better comprehend what consciousness is, we must first challenge our notion of experience and intuition.

Philosopher Thomas Nagel proposed that an “organism is conscious if there is something that it is like to be that organism”.

This suggests organisms experience things and as a result, can be conscious—but what about non-living objects? What are they like?

Understanding consciousness requires us to question the exclusive relationship between experience and consciousness while also weighing the significance of intuition in this conundrum.

Intuition serves as our gut feeling when we sense something isn’t right but don’t understand why.

For example, seeing a stranger getting on a subway may invoke subconscious cues like their face being flushed or eyes widening; clues suggesting they pose a threat.

Our intuition could help deter danger – but it can also lead us astray: initially, the Earth was thought to be flat until someone noticed otherwise; having more anxiety boarding a plane than getting into a car—even though cars are much more dangerous.

Therefore, when contemplating consciousness it’s important to listen to your intuition yet consider other hypotheses before coming to any conclusions.

Considering theories outside of personal preconceptions enable people to gain insight into the mysterious intellectual process such as experiencing consciousness.

Are Plants Conscious? We Uncover The Surprising Facts

One thing that is certain about consciousness is that we humans have it.

And in turn, our form of consciousness is the only one we directly experience and are familiar with.

This can lead us to believe that the qualities and behaviors displaying consciousness must be exclusive to humans.

However, research into plant behavior has shown us a different story.

With trees like Douglas fir and paper birch mysteriously communicating nutrients underground, to sharing memories like the venus fly trap, it’s clear that some of the traits associated with consciousness are not exclusive to human behavior but can be observed in other species too.

What’s more, many of these reactions, such as reacting to danger or sensing light, use the same DNA found in humans!

This suggests that plants may have some form of experience – and therefore some form of consciousness – or simply that these traits aren’t related to consciousness at all.

Our Consciousness Is Just Along For The Ride: How Automatic Brain Functions And Instincts Guide Our Decisions

Brain Functions

When it comes to the choices we make and the thoughts we have, they are less a matter of making conscious decisions than they are reactions that result from instincts and programming already present in our brains.

For instance, when something happens, we tend to react instinctively based on our experiences and existing brain functions – before consciousness even kicks in.

This has been studied more closely with perception timing and experiments involving driverless cars – both of which show that the conscious mind is often the “last to know” what’s going on.

Likewise, when it comes to complex thought like remembering an old friend from grade school, this is more about our brain’s programming than conscious decision-making.

It may seem like such thoughts simply arise out of nowhere – but in actuality, they come as a result of genetics, unconscious instinct and past experiences.

The truth is: consciousness is separate from both decision-making processes and our most complex thoughts.

It’s essentially just along for the ride when decisions or thoughts occur; it’s there to witness them happening and fit them into the ongoing experience that is the life we live each day.

The Illusion Of Self: Our Sense Of Self Is Not Indispensable To Consciousness

Our sense of self and our consciousness are not one and the same.

While we often think of them as intertwined, there are instances in which it’s possible to experience one without the other.

For example, when people take psychedelic drugs like LSD or even meditate, they sometimes experience a heightened awareness of their surroundings – a state where their sense of self begins to dissolve and they feel more connected with the world than separate from it.

This means that consciousness can be experienced without necessarily being attached to our own, individual selves.

It reveals that the concept of ‘self’ is actually a mental construct, something that can be changed or altered depending on our perceptions of the world around us.

In some instances, this can lead to our sense of self becoming nonexistent while still having conscious awareness.

At its core, it shows that consciousness is distinct from our sense of self; we can have one without necessarily having the other.

This perspective allows us to view ourselves in a different light and further understand how we interact with the world around us.

Is It Possible That All Matters Have Consciousness? Exploring The Possibility Of Panpsychism

The idea of all matter having a form of consciousness may sound wild and crazy–but scientifically speaking, it actually makes perfect sense.

Humans are made from the same elements that exist in plants, stars, and everything else in the universe.

Why would these elements suddenly gain consciousness only when it comes to humans? This would constitute a radical emergence, and science usually finds such explanations unsatisfactory because they just further complicate already difficult questions.

Panpsychism is different because it’s a valid hypothesis which suggests that experience is an intrinsic part of energy.

This completely follows the laws of physics and doesn’t contradict any scientific theories or findings.

Those who disagree with panpsychism tend to assume that it means rocks have human-level consciousness, but this isn’t what proponents of this theory are saying at all!

Instead, there may be countless forms of consciousness with some forms that might even be impossible for humans to understand.

If you can imagine understanding something on an instinctive level instead of cognitively thinking about it (think light vs dark, hot vs cold), then you just might start to comprehend what limited forms of consciousness could look like.

The Evidence Of Split Brain Studies Suggests We May Find The Answers To Consciousness In Matter

Split Brain Studies

When studying the phenomena of consciousness, many have pondered the idea of panpsychism – that all matter is conscious.

Despite being far from a traditionally accepted concept, this viewpoint can provide valuable insights into puzzling questions about how complex thought and brain functions come to exist.

Split-brain studies on patients who underwent a corpus callosotomy for crippling seizures suggest that multiple consciousnesses can exist in one body.

Remarkably, the procedure did not damage cognitive ability but instead revealed two distinct experiences, with sensory information received by one hemisphere no longer being communicated to the other side.

Thus, it’s possible for two different conscious experiences to be present in a single organism.

This evidence provides insight into how complex human cognition may be comprised of various lesser aspects of sentient matter mixed together.

With this perspective in mind, it suggests possibilities for answers to complex questions when we expand beyond traditional ideas of what constitutes conscious awareness and think more holistically.

Wrap Up

The final takeaway from this discussion on consciousness is that it’s a mystery.

We don’t know for sure exactly what consciousness is or why humans have it, but we do know that human thoughts and behaviors are not the source of it.

This leads to the intriguing theory of panpsychism, which suggests that consciousness exists throughout the universe as an intrinsic element of all matter.

No matter how difficult it may be to wrap our heads around it, this theory opens up fascinating possibilities about what else may be conscious in the world beyond ourselves.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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