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Is Consciousness Stuck In Your Brain? What We Think Now


The exploration of consciousness has long been the domain of philosophers, psychologists, and neurologists, each bringing unique perspectives to this complex and mysterious phenomenon. Let’s take a deeper dive.

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Consciousness, at its core, is our subjective experience of the world. It is the lens through which we perceive, interpret, and interact with our environment.

But what if this lens is not as individualistic as we think? What if our consciousness is not confined within the borders of our individual brains? What if extends beyond into something communal or collective?

Let’s start by examining current understandings. In neuroscience, consciousness is often considered a product of the brain’s complex computations; it is seen as an emergent property of our neural networks. But no viable theory exists explaining how physical matter can create non-physical reality.

It’s sort of a conservative’s wish list.

From a philosophical perspective, though, its the state of being aware of and able to think and perceive one’s surroundings.

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The Limits of Consciousness Explanations

However, these interpretations may be limiting our understandings.

They confine it to the realm of individual cognition, neglecting the possibility that it might extend beyond the individual into a shared or communal realm.

Sociologist Emile Durkheim, for instance, proposed the concept of “collective consciousness,” suggesting that societies share a set of beliefs, values, and norms that bind individuals together.

This shared awareness, according to Durkheim, is fundamental to social cohesion and solidarity.
Moreover, psychologist Carl Jung introduced the idea of “collective unconscious,” a reservoir of experiences and archetypes shared across generations.

These shared experiences, according to Jung, influence our individual consciousness and shape our perception of the world.

These theories suggest that our consciousness might not be as individualistic as we think. Instead, it could be part of a larger, communal web.


We see evidence of this in collective behaviors, such as schools of fish moving in unison or flocks of birds flying in formation. In these instances, the actions of the individuals seem to be governed by a collective consciousness rather than individual agency.

This argument, however, differs from others dealing with shared experiences. While language, culture, and socialization are indeed shared experiences that shape our individual consciousness, they do not necessarily imply a shared or communal experience.

Counterarguments to this notion usually revolve around the lack of empirical evidence supporting the existence of a communal consciousness. Critics argue that collective behaviors can be explained by simple rules and do not require the assumption of a shared consciousness.

However, this counterargument assumes a reductionist view of consciousness, reducing it to the sum of individual cognitive processes. It does not account for the emergent properties of collective systems, wherein the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

In conclusion, while our current understanding of consciousness is centered on the individual, there are compelling arguments and observations suggesting that it might extend beyond the individual into a communal consciousness.

This perspective not only expands our understanding of consciousness but also challenges our notions of self and identity in profound ways. After all, haven’t we always known that no man (or woman) is an island?


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy




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