In one of the articles on the neurobiology of infant consciousness a few years ago the question was raised: “When does your child become conscious?” The premise, of course, was that children are not born with consciousness, but instead develop it at a certain point. According to the article, this is the age of five months. Nevertheless, it is difficult to imagine that there is no such feeling – to be a newborn.
It is obvious that newborns feel their own bodies, the environment, the presence of parents and so on – albeit in a non-reflexive, real-world-oriented form. And if there was a certain feeling of being a child, then the children would not become conscious. They would have been conscious with the beginning, they would have realized their beginning.
The problem is, and it’s a little scary that “consciousness” is often used in literature as something that implies something more than just the quality of the experience. Deixterhuis and Nordgren, for example, insisted that “it is very important to understand that attention is the key to the difference between an unconscious thought and a conscious thought. Conscious thought is understood with attention. ” From this it follows that if thoughts are not peculiar to attention, it is unconscious. But is there enough lack of attention to argue that the thinking process lacks quality experience? Will not such a process, escaping from the focus of attention, still somehow be felt?
Now you breathe: the air passes through your nostrils, through your diaphragm and so on. Did you notice this an instant earlier, before I drew your attention? Or did you just not know that you feel it all the time? Drawing your attention to these feelings, did I make them conscious or just made you understand a little more qualitatively that these sensations were conscious?
Jonathan Sculer has established a clear distinction between conscious and meta-conscious processes. While both of them entail a qualitative experience, the meta-conscious processes also entail what he called “re-representation”, repetition, over-representation, even reinterpretation. “Periodic attention is paid to an explicit evaluation of the content of the experiment. The resulting metasocognition includes an explicit re-representation of consciousness in which someone interprets, describes, or otherwise characterizes the state of his mind. ”
Therefore, when attention plays an important role, it is a matter of over-representation; that is, a conscious knowledge of the experience underlying the self-analysis. Subjects can not report – even to themselves – experiences that are not subject to over-representation. Nevertheless, nothing prevents the conscious experience from appearing without a re-representation. Dreams, for example, do not have a representation, despite the fact that they are perceived in consciousness. This gap between communicability and the content of consciousness led to the appearance of so-called “unconscious paradigms” in modern neuroscience of consciousness.
Obviously, the assumption that consciousness is limited by a rethought mental content in the focus of attention, erroneously links metasociety with one’s own consciousness. But this error is extremely common.
Since the study of neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) as a whole relies on subjective reports of experiences, what passes through the NCC may simply be a neural metaconsciousness metasocognition. Thus, potentially conscious thought activity – in the sense of activity correlating with qualitative experience – can shy away from recognition as such.
Studies have shown that achieving progress in solving the “solid problem of consciousness”, we, in fact, bypass it: the mechanisms of metasociety are completely unrelated to the problem of how a qualitative experience arises from physical perception.
Perhaps, consciousness never appears – in children, babies, carapaces or adults – because it can always be inherent in them. As far as scientists have understood, there is only a meta-conscious configuration of the consciousness existing before. If this is so, consciousness can be fundamental in nature – an inalienable aspect of every mental process, and not a property created or somehow engendered by concrete physical constructs in the brain. Statements based on subjective experiences that reduce the presence of consciousness to the physiology of the brain may have nothing to do with consciousness, but much – with the mechanisms of metasocognition.