About Consciousness

[“A phenomenological model of consciousness based on information theory”] is phenomenological in that it deals directly with events–phenomena–as we experience and interpret them, rather than focusing on the anatomical structures, neurochemical process, or unconscious purposes that make these events possible. Of course, it is understood that whatever happens in the mind is the result of electrochemical changes in the central nervous system, as laid down over millions of years by biological evolution. But phenomenology assumes that a mental event can be best understood if we look at it directly as it was experienced, that than through the specialised optics of a particular discipline. Yet in contrast to pure phenomenology, which model we will explore here adopts principles from information theory as being relevant for understanding what happens in consciousness. These principles include knowledge about how sensory data are processed, stored and used–the dynamics of attention and memory.

With this framework in mind, what, then, does it mean to be conscious? It simply means that certain specific conscious events (sensations, feelings, thoughts, intentions) are occurring, and that we are able to direct their course. In contrast, when we are dreaming, some of the same events are present, yet we are not conscious because we cannot control them. […] The events that constitute consciousness–the things we see, feel, think, and desire–are information that we can manipulate and use. Thus we might think of consciousness as intentionally ordered information.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Flow

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