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Roger Wolcott Sperry

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Earlier contentions that the right hemisphere is not even conscious largely gave way by the mid seventies to an intermediate position conceding that the mute hemisphere may be conscious at some lower elemental levels, but claiming that it lacks the higher, reflective, self-conscious kind of inner awareness that is special to the human mind and is needed, so it is said, to qualify the right conscious system as a "self' or "person". Self awareness in particular is reported, on the basis of mirror tests mainly, to be a predominantly human attribute and is rated by developmental as well as by evolutionary standards to be a highly advanced phase of conscious awareness.

 
Roger Wolcott Sperry

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The next phase of the work was when Joseph LeDoux and I came up with the idea of the interpreter. Twenty-five years into studying these patients we finally got around to asking the patients, "Why did you do that?" after they had a response with the left hand that was being governed by the separated, silent, speechless right hemisphere. We began to understand that the left hemisphere "made up" a story as to why the patient did what he/she did, and in that moment we began to see the cardinal feature of the left hemisphere: the ability to interpret actions generated outside its realm of conscious awareness.

 
Michael Gazzaniga
 

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
 

As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future. This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny fragment of the universe in a few of us human beings. Perhaps it has been realized elsewhere too, through the evolution of conscious living creatures on the planets of other stars. But on this our planet, it has never happened before.

 
Julian Huxley
 

What right do we have to claim, as some might, that human beings are the only inhabitants of our planet blessed with an actual ability to be "aware"? The impression of a "conscious presence" is indeed very strong with me when I look at a dog or a cat or, especially, when an ape or monkey at the zoo looks at me. I do not ask that they are "self-aware" in any strong sense (though I would guess that an element of self-awareness can be present). All I ask is that they sometimes simply feel!

 
Roger Penrose
 

It is now clear that Freud was correct in positing the unconscious mind develops before the conscious and that the early development of the unconscious is equivalent to the genesis of a self-system that operates beneath conscious verbal levels for the rest of the life span.

 
Sigmund Freud
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