The controversy is whether consciousness preceded origin of universe or followed it.
|Summary: A controversy has always been prevalent in human society as to whether consciousness preceded origin of universe or followed it. It has been rationally concluded that consciousness preceded origin of universe.
Consciousness is the ability of nature to perceive reality and respond to it. All of us have experienced this natural ability and therefore there can’t be any controversy about its existence.
However of origin of consciousness is surrounded in controversy. Some say it preceded creation of universe while others say that it came in to being in the course of progressive development of nature and universe. Therefore, it is a horse and cart problem – whether the horse is before the cart or cart is before the horse.
Matter is divided in to nonliving matter and living matter. Majority of thinkers have held nonliving matter to be devoid of consciousness and it is further held that somewhere along the path consciousness crept in to matter to give rise to living matter or life. But this view does not explain origin and source of consciousness.
Majority of religious philosophers have sought to resolve this dilemma by drawing a strict line of distinction between soul and body. They say that body is different and soul is different and accordingly realization of this difference is one of the pious goals of human life. Almost all the religious philosophies except Buddhism hold that soul is eternal, different and separate from body even though residing in body and death means soul deserting the body. Buddhists preach that soul has no separate existence from body and it is all in the ensemble. However even Buddhist leave one question unanswered “Who is the designer?”.
Lewes in the first volume of Problems of Life and Mind (1874) endorsed the Buddhist view. He stated that regrouping of physical motion of molecules in to chemical action lead to emergence of novelties and the same is true of vital phenomenon, social phenomenon and psychical phenomenon, there is regrouping, not the introduction of new material, above all not a casting away of old. However I wish to point out that mere regrouping is not sufficient to explain emergence of novelties (not detailed).
However Hegel in The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) portrayed a self actualizing universe which came to understand itself through the minds of conscious beings. Hegel noted that in human species mind evolved through discontinuous, ascending perceptive levels.
Jain philosophy recognizes ascending perceptive levels as ranging from organisms with a single sense to organisms with five senses.
Sherrington explicitly described the core controversy surrounding consciousness as two alternatives:-
“We are once more at a crucial parting of ways. And I think at bottom it comes to this. One route leads to the view that mind is emergent in the course of evolutionary history. The other path leads to the view that mind is not emergent. It is not an evolutionary stage in the natural history of the psychical correlates of physical events. It enters the world endowed with an original capacity for apprehending that world, with its several categories, through the use of sense-organs and brains, evolved to that end in a manner which it is for biologists to disclose. This apprehension is part of the mind’s inherent activity which with the conduct it sub served, affords instances of a kind of causality elsewhere not to be found in nature. The two views are …irreconcilable.”
Therefore, which view is correct has to be decided but direct evidence to decide the issues is inaccessible, since it is not possible to travel backward in time to the conditions that preceded creation of universe. Therefore, one has to rely upon the other two properties of truth i.e. rationality and plausibility to determine and test the truth.
For any particle to keep existence, several mandatory conditions have to be satisfied all the time. There are inherent contradictions among these mandatory conditions which need to be kept resolved all the time through appropriate tools, techniques, controls, mechanisms etc. (Existential dilemma). Hence, for existence of any particle pre-existence of appropriate tools, techniques, controls, mechanisms etc. has to necessarily precede its origin/creation.
Therefore, if we assume for the sake of discussion only that physical universe began with origin of photons, being the simplest of particles, then we find that even photons in order to keep their existence needed to conserve their energy against the tendency to energy flow in accordance with 2nd law of thermodynamics. Therefore creation of appropriate mechanism i.e. oscillating electromagnetic field and time lag to onset of entropy had to necessarily precede origin of photons. This raises a question about the agent responsible for origin of these mechanisms. The agent responsible for creation of these mechanisms can only be consciousness or is consciousness.
This view is plausible in its essence without exception with the entire evolutionary progress of physical and biological universe. It is not being detailed further herein for the sake of brevity. In short consciousness is an original property of the world endowed with capacity for apprehending the world, which is capable of resolving existential dilemma. However as the consciousness has evolved, so has the physical world. Therefore elevation of consciousness is the common thread to the evolutionary history of the world.
Summarizing all above, consciousness had to precede origin/creation of physical universe, is embedded in its material creations and has evolved to the level of human mind in order to explicitly realize itself.
Consciousness, since origin of universe up to evolution of man has proceeded subconsciously or without self awareness as hidden conditions behind things and events and has been described as involuntarily consciousness, since its bearer has no control over its activities but in man it has evolved to the level of awareness or voluntary consciousness permitting not only self realization but also apprehension of the world and individual control. Therefore, it can be readily seen that in universe Involuntary Consciousness has played a much bigger role then Voluntary Consciousness. Even Sachin Tendulkar can not explicitly calculate before hitting a ball, it has to be in his subconscious.
Author: Dr Mahesh C. Jain is a practicing medical doctor has written the book “Encounter of Science with Philosophy – A synthetic view”. The book begins with first chapter devoted to scientifically valid concept of God and then explains cosmic phenomena right from origin of nature and universe up to origin of life and evolution of man. The book includes several chapters devoted to auxiliary concepts and social sciences as corollaries to the concept of God. Consciousness is one of the aspects of and had to precede origin of universe. This is the only book which deals with origin of nature and universe from null or Zero or nothing.