Daniel C Dennett - Carl Becker - Steven Pinker - Arthur Miller - Michio Kaku - Roger Penrose - Adrian Owen - Martin Amis - Carl Jung - F Scott Fitzgerald - Horizon TV - Carlos Fuentes - Sam Harris - Joseph Campbell - D H Lawrence - Noam Chomsky - Bill Hicks - Christopher Hitchens - Erwini Shrodinger - V S Ramachandran - George Orwell - Alan Wallace - Lionel Tiger - Terrence McKenna - Friedrich Nietzsche - Adam Curtis TV - Morgan Freeman TV - Carl Sagan -
Human consciousness is just about the last surviving mystery. A mystery is a phenomenon that people don’t know how to think about – yet. There have been other great mysteries: the mystery of the origin of the universe, the mystery of life and reproduction, the mystery of the design to be found in nature, the mysteries of time, space, and gravity. These were not just areas of scientific ignorance, but of utter bafflement and wonder. We do not yet have all the answers to any of the questions of cosmology and particle physics, molecular genetics and evolutionary theory, but we do know how to think about them .... With consciousness, however, we are still in a terrible muddle. Consciousness stands alone today as a topic that often leaves even the most sophisticated thinkers tongue-tied and confused. And, as with all of the earlier mysteries, there are many who insist – and hope – that there will never be a demystification of consciousness. Daniel C Dennett, Consciousness Explained
The significance of man is that he is part of the universe that asks the question, What is the significance of Man? He alone can stand apart imaginatively and, regarding himself and the universe in their eternal aspects, pronounce a judgment: The significance of man is that he is insignificant and is aware of it. Carl Becker, Progress and Power, 1936
Consciousness turns out to consist of a maelstrom of events distributed across the brain. These events compete for attention, and as one process outshouts the others, the brain rationalizes the outcome after the fact and concocts the impression that a single self was in charge all along. Steven Pinker
The death of consciousness is the ultimate mystery. Arthur Miller, interview Jonathan Miller, The Atheism Tapes
Consciousness, there are about 20,000 papers on consciousness with no consensus. Nowhere in history have so many people devoted so much time to produce so little. Michio Kaku
Consciousness … is the phenomenon whereby the universe’s very existence is made known. Roger Penrose
This opens up a real dilemma if you like in our understanding of consciousness which is that the only way I can really tell that you are conscious is if you can indicate that to me. Somehow we don’t have a magic consciousness meter. Professor Adrian Owen, Medical Research Council
He was in a terrible state – that of consciousness. Martin Amis, The Information
There is no coming to consciousness without pain. Carl Jung
He was a great sin who first invented consciousness. Let us lose it for a few hours. F Scott Fitzgerald
I’ve always wondered are animals conscious? Do they have a sense of I? Does an elephant know it is an elephant? How could I know it knows? Where does consciousness stop? Perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps it’s a gradation. Could a single cell be conscious? Horizon: The Secret You, Marcus du Sautoy reporting, BBC 2009
Am I conscious? Or are my neurons conscious? And is there a difference? ibid.
I’m not sure if scientists will solve the question of consciousness in my lifetime. ibid.
We like to believe we are in control of everything we think and everything we do. But scientists are discovering that at every moment of our lives an unseen presence is guiding us all. Now, they are exploring the world of your unconscious mind. Horizon: Out of Control? BBC 2012
There’s more going on than you can consciously take in. ibid.
Your unconscious is often in control. ibid.
A rose-tinted and inaccurate view of the world. ibid.
Your unconscious mind will re-wire itself to share the load. ibid.
The sophisticated centre of everything we ever do. ibid.
High on the agenda for the 21st century will be the need to restore some kind of tragic consciousness. Carlos Fuentes, Mexican novelist & writer
Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness. We form friendships so that we can feel certain emotions, like love, and avoid others, like loneliness. We eat specific foods to enjoy their fleeting presence on our tongues. We read for the pleasure of thinking another person’s thoughts. Sam Harris
When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness. Joseph Campbell
I think the brain is essentially a computer and consciousness is like a computer program. It will cease to run when the computer is turned off. Theoretically, it could be re-created on a neural network, but that would be very difficult, as it would require all one's memories. Stephen Hawking
Consciousness is an end in itself. We torture ourselves getting somewhere, and when we get there it is nowhere, for there is nowhere to get to. D H Lawrence
I did used to have nightmares about the idea that when I die, there is a spark of consciousness which basically creates the world. ‘Is the world going to disappear if this spark of consciousness disappears? And how do I know it won’t? How do I know there’s anything there except what I’m conscious of?’ Noam Chomsky
And if I can take part in it by transforming my own consciousness, then someone else’s, I’m happy to do it. Bill Hicks
No school of philosophy has ever solved this question of whether being determines consciousness or the other way around. It may be a false antithesis. Christopher Hitchens
Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else. Erwin Schrödinger
How can a three-pound mass of jelly that you can hold in your palm imagine angels, contemplate the meaning of infinity, and even question its own place in the cosmos? Especially awe inspiring is the fact that any single brain, including yours, is made up of atoms that were forged in the hearts of countless, far-flung stars billions of years ago. These particles drifted for eons and light-years until gravity and change brought them together here, now. These atoms now form a conglomerate – your brain – that can not only ponder the very stars that gave it birth but can also think about its own ability to think and wonder about its own ability to wonder. With the arrival of humans, it has been said, the universe has suddenly become conscious of itself. This, truly, it the greatest mystery of all. V S Ramachandran, The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human
Partly it was a sort of hymn to the wisdom and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise. George Orwell, 1984
I swear, gentlemen, that to be too conscious is an illness – a real thorough-going illness. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground
Buddhism has a theory of conservation of consciousness that is comparable to the scientific principle of the conservation of energy. And that is you can do all kinds of things to energy; one thing you can’t do to energy is make it become nothing. And you can do all kinds of things to consciousness: it too is one of the core elements of the universe. You can’t destroy space, you can’t destroy energy and you can’t destroy consciousness. Dr Alan Wallace, author Contemplative Science
There is a tendency for humans consciously to see what they wish to see. They literally have difficulty seeing things with negative connotations while seeing with increasing ease items that are positive. Lionel Tiger, Optimism: The Biology of Hope
Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness. Terence McKenna
The growing consciousness is a danger and a disease. Friedrich Nietzsche
In the consciousness of the truth he has perceived, man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of existence, and loathing seizes him. Friedrich Nietzsche