Monday, October 23, 2017

Orders of Consciousness

Consciousness is sometimes hard to define but rather easy to measure since consciousness results in very particular patterns of electrical activity in the brain. The electroencephalogram or EEG indicates an unconscious versus conscious state and can differentiate different stages of sleep as well. Neural pathologies like epilepsy and coma also have very distinctive EEG spectra.

Consciousness comprises progressive orders of recursive neural emotion:
zero order: joy and misery, anger and serenity, infants less than two years old;
first order: pleasure of discovery versus anxiety of the unknown, children less than six;
second order: selfishness and compassion, bonding with others, long term memory, less than 18;
third order: pride and shame, bonding with civilization, adults;
fourth order: rapture of ecstasy, bonding with cosmos, passing away.

Consciousness is also a learned process from acting like others act just like learning to communicate with language by acting like others act. Therefore it is useful to rank the development of consciousness in general orders that the stages of human development define. When a child is first born, the two emotions of joy and misery pretty much determine the limits of that child's consciousness. Crying represents an infant's misery that a parent addresses while joy represents the looks and smiles and not crying then reinforces parental care.

A first order consciousness occurs by about age two or so when a child develops their first beliefs in space and time. First order consciousness means that a child understands that sources do not disappear but rather continue to exist even though the child no longer sees them. The primitive emotions of pleasure and anxiety drive an initial purpose in discovering the world and that first world is a very selfish one with many potential dangers.

Thus a second order consciousness occurs by about age six or so when a child begins to develop long term memories. Between two and six a child learns how to limit their selfishness with compassion for others and how to limit other's selfishness with anger and serenity. Selfishness is a necessary emotion for survival just as compassion is a necessary emotion for bonding with others just as anger is necessary to limit other's selfishness. The child's long term memory allows development of bonding with others and sets the stage for ascent into civilization. Schools bring children together for learning and social interactions that introduce pride in accomplishments as well shame to conform behavior to a norm.

Third order consciousness occurs by about age 18 or so when a child transitions to an adult capable of survival on their own with final emotion complement of pride and shame. Having developed a full complement of emotions, an adult is proud of the pleasure of discovery just as a child, but limits that pleasure by an appropriate anxiety about the consequences of shame. Driving an auto is a pleasant way to discover many things, but driving into a tree or another person is not something that is useful to discover.

Throughout life, a person experiences joy and misery along with anger and serenity in all of their endeavors, then pleasure and anxiety come next followed by selfishness and compassion. Finally, pride and shame are a necessary emotions for conforming to a social norm and a civilization of laws and justice.

The fourth and final order of consciousness occurs only after much experience in the world and does not necessarily occur for everyone. Fourth order consciousness is the rapture and ecstasy with the discovery that the physical world is really not quite what it seems like it is. Fourth order consciousness discovers the spectral nature of reality that underlies the apparent external reality of space and time with sources and observers. When we pass into oblivion with this knowledge and wisdom, we experience the rapture and ecstasy of that discovery.