5 - Consciousness Vs. Awareness
This is something that is a bit unrelated to my topic, but it's something I've been thinking about the past couple of days; is there a distinction between consciousness and awareness? Looking at consciousness from a physical perspective seems to suggest that it is correlated with 'complexity', i.e. we tend to think that more 'complex' brains are more conscious.

If this is indeed the case, perhaps consciousness occurs on a spectrum rather than in a discrete way - such that instead of things being definitively conscious or unconscious, some things are more or less conscious than others (e.g. a cell nucleus might be less conscious than a giraffe).

So at what point does something move from being conscious (i.e. in a very basic, simple sense) to being self-aware (i.e. being able to reflect abstractly on experiences)? Is this just something that happens at a certain point along the 'spectrum of consciousness'? Or is awareness something that occurs along a spectrum too?

The reason this came up was because I was thinking about what it would be like to be in a coma - does that count as a form of consciousness? In the end I decided that it doesn't, because whilst there is a physical neural network, the network is not actually being used. Still it is sort of interesting to think about whether one could have a neural network that operates in a physical sense but has no awareness - can these things occur separately or does one imply the other?

For the most part, I tend to think of consciousness and awareness as the same thing, but it'd be interesting to know if any philosophers had a different view.


You discuss the following concepts here:

IMO the important comparison for this project is between the first two, and they're the same. You might have a different view of the project though. If you want to talk more about the others, let me know. Jason