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Simon Conway Morris

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In a stroke of imaginative genius our understanding of consciousness was radically transformed, but in an entirely unexpected way. Critical clues came from diffuse nerve nets and, even more extraordinarily, plant neurobiology. Banished forever was the idea that the brain alone was the seat of consciousness. Rather, it is an 'antenna' embedded in a hyperdimensional matrix. The depths of reality are only now being uncovered, but now the springs of imagination, intuition, abstraction and even pre-cognition are revealed. What was once called the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics was simply a clue to a superbly structured universe where mind is an integral component, instantiated at the big bang or maybe even before? Future exploration offers dizzying prospects, but we are not the first to venture forth. Far in advance of the emergence of human consciousness, innumerable galactic civilisations had slipped into what we now call the Mortimer Manifold.
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"King of Sweden" presenting "Professor Mortimer" with the 2056 Nobel prize, in "Simon Conway Morris forecasts the future" at NewScientist.com (15 November 2006)

 
Simon Conway Morris

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He had a mystical philosophy of "blood" which I disliked. "There is," he said, "another seat of consciousness than the brain and nerves. There is a blood consciousness which exists in us independently of the ordinary mental consciousness. One lives, knows and has one's being in the blood, without any reference to nerves and brain. This is one half of life belonging to the darkness. When I take a woman, then the blood percept is supreme. My blood knowing is overwhelming. We should realize that we have a blood being, a blood consciousness, a blood soul complete and apart from a mental and nerve consciousness." This seemed to me frankly rubbish, and I rejected it vehemently, though I did not then know that it led straight to Auschwitz.

 
D. H. Lawrence
 

Consciousness (conscientia) is participated knowledge, is co-feeling, and co-feeling is com-passion. Love personalizes all that it loves. Only by personalizing it can we fall in love with an idea. And when love is so great and so vital, so strong and so overflowing, that it loves everything, then it personalizes everything and discovers that the total All, that the Universe, is also a person possessing a Consciousness, a Consciousness which in its turn suffers, pities, and loves, and therefore is consciousness. And this Consciousness of the Universe, which a love, personalizing all that it loves, discovers, is what we call God.

 
Miguel de Unamuno
 

Apparently the rise of consciousness is linked to certain kinds of privation. It is the bitterness of self-consciousness that we knowers know best. Critical of the illusions that sustained mankind in earlier times, this self-consciousness of ours does little to sustain us now. The question is: which is disenchanted, the world itself or the consciousness we have of it?

 
Saul Bellow
 

Under the conditions of modern life we have more control over our thoughts, and in connection with this there is a special method by which we may work on the development of our consciousness using that instrument which is most obedient to our will; that is, our mind, or the intellectual centre. In order to understand more clearly what I am going to say, you must try to remember that we have no control over our consciousness. When I said that we can become more conscious, or that a man can be made conscious for a moment simply by asking him if he is conscious or not, I used the words "conscious" or "consciousness" in a relative sense. There are so many degrees of consciousness and every higher degree means "consciousness" in relation to a lower degree. But, if we have no control over consciousness itself, we have a certain control over our thinking about consciousness, and we can construct our thinking in such a way as to bring consciousness. What I mean is that by giving to our thoughts the direction which they would have in a moment of consciousness, we can, in this way, induce consciousness.

 
P. D. Ouspensky
 

Cosmic Consciousness ... is a higher form of consciousness than that possessed by the ordinary man. This last is called Self Consciousness and is that faculty upon which rests all of our life (both subjective and objective) which is not common to us and the higher animals, except that small part of it which is derived from the few individuals who have had the higher consciousness above named. To make the matter clear it must be understood that there are three forms or grades of consciousness. (1) Simple Consciousness, which is possessed by say the upper half of the animal kingdom. By means of this faculty a dog or a horse is just as conscious of the things about him as a man is; he is also conscious of his own limbs and body and he knows that these are a part of himself. (2) Over and above this Simple Consciousness, which is possessed by man as by animals, man has another which is called Self Consciousness. By virtue of this faculty man is not only conscious of trees, rocks, waters, his own limbs and body, but he becomes conscious of himself as a distinct entity apart from all the rest of the universe. It is as good as certain that no animal can realize himself in that way. ... The animal is, as it were, immersed in his consciousness as a fish in the sea, he cannot, even in imagination, get outside of it for one moment so as to realize it. ... Cosmic Consciousness is a third form which is as far above Self Consciousness as is that above Simple Consciousness. With this form, of course, both simple and self consciousness persist (as simple consciousness persists when self consciousness is acquired), but added to them is the new faculty ... The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is, as its name implies, a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe ... Along with the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment or illumination which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence would make him almost a member of a new species. To this is added a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of elevation, elation and joyousness, and a quickening of the moral sense, which is fully as striking and more important both to the individual and to the race than is the enhanced intellectual power. With these come, what may be called, a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not a conviction that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he has it already.

 
Richard Maurice Bucke
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