A school of fish, is it a thing?
Not really. It is a collection of things, arranged in such a way. Let’s say that those fish in the above picture are separated by 1 unit of distance, D. We would all probably agree that at D (their current unit of separation between each other) they are arranged as a school. If their separation was decreased to say 0.5D or 0.0001D, they would be even closer together, and we would probably still call them a school of fish. What about 2D, or 3D or 10D or 1000D or 100,000,000,000,000D? Does their separation define their connectivity and thus their ‘schoolness’? They aren’t connected in the above pic, there is space between them, yet we would still say they are a school of fish. At what point are they no longer connected enough to be considered a school of fish?
Being a school of fish gives fish advantages. They appear bigger to potential predators, and they can make fun of unsuspecting fish.
When you look at the school of fish from far away, maybe you were a giant floating in space, and you saw this thing moving around in the water (which to you looks like a puddle) – it looks like it is one solid, connected thing. But is it? When you get up close to it, and let’s say you were the size of one of those fish, or maybe 1/10 of a fish, or the size of a bacteria, or the size of a hydrogen atom, or 1/1000000th of a hydrogen atom, the spaces separating the fish would appear bigger and bigger. It is no longer this connected, ‘ONE’ thing. in fact, at the size of 1/1000000th of a hydrogen atom, the space between the fish is almost all there is to see. The site of an actual fish would be quite rare.
We are nothing more than a ‘school’ of particles. Call them organs, call them cells, call them molecules (lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins), call them atoms, call them protons, neutrons, electrons, bosons, leptons and quarks. Call them what you want, let’s just call them particles.
Again, from afar, let’s say from someone or something roughly our size or larger, it would appear as if a human body is connected. The fingers attach to the hand, hand to arm, arm to body, etc etc.
Zoom in to the size of a bacteria, which is roughly 1/10th the size of a human cell. Well now things start to look a bit different. You see that there are all these 3d lumpy things (cells) that touch other 3d lumpy things (cells) and they form together a giant mass, let’s say it’s the liver (an organ). The same way one handful of dirt and another handful of dirt and millions of other handfuls of dirty form a hill.
Now let’s zoom down to the size of a molecule, let’s say a small protein. You look around, and what you see are these other molecules just floating, almost aimlessly. They are just moving around, bouncing, touching each other, one gets connected to another one temporarily, and they float off in this aqueous solution (water, salts, acids, bases), then they disconnect and a new set of molecules touch each other. We call this a cellular process, a signalling event, an interaction, a function, a gene being activated, whatever.
Zoom down even lower, let’s go to the size of a hydrogen atom now. Now what you see is other ‘atoms’. They are there, separated by HUGE, almost an infinite amount of space. The space between them is nothing but black, because, well, nothing is in between the atoms, as all matter is made up of atoms. So anything that isn’t an atom, well, doesn’t have atoms, it just “isn’t”. So you can’t see anything that “isn’t” (isn’t existing). So the absence of something cannot have an atom to represent it, and thus, is nothing. No light can be reflected off of nothing, so there is nothing but blackness between these atoms.
Now we shrink down to 1/1000000th of a hydrogen atom. Again, like the school of fish, there is almost nothing to be seen. We move our line of vision all around, in all directions – it is all almost completely black. But once in a while we see something. It is small (because relative to our size, we are so incredibly far away from it), but in reality it is quite huge (if, for example, we were the size of an atom, a molecule, a cell, or a human body).
I happen to think this is exactly what the universe is. If you zoom in, or out, of a human body, a dogs body, a tree stump, when you move orders of magnitude in either direction, it all ends up being the same thing over and over again. It looks like the universe. Like the cosmos.
But that wasn’t actually the point of why I started to right this post. Though it is something really worth considering. What would a water molecule, H2O, look like (or a cell, or an atom with electrons circulating it) if you were the same size of that particle, or 1/10th, or 1/10000000th or 1/10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000th? and so on.
My point was to ask the question, at what point does consciousness form? Where is it produced?
Some might quickly say “well in the brain” or “in our genes”. But if we shrink ourselves down small enough, nothing at all is connected by physical matter. If you were 1/100000000000000000000000000000000th the size of an electron, and were standing or floating on a gene, on a neurotransmitter, on a nerve, somewhere in your cerebral cortex, on a hydrogen atom that is “bonded” to a carbon atom which is a “part” of whatever process that you think might bring about consciousness, at the end of the day, all these things (assuming the atomic model) are just considered lifeless particles. So where does consciousness come from?
Does a proton have life? Does an electron have life? Does an atom have life? We say no, because the idea of our floor, or a chair, or a chalkboard being alive is silly, almost offensive (thanks to our egos). So if those things aren’t alive, and have no consciousness, then when does it form (and how)? When 2 atoms come together (again, based on your perspective, they can never actually come together)? when 4? When 1000 (molecule/protein level)? When the molecules start to become arranged in weird globular shapes? When those shapes start bouncing around, mindlessly with each other? (cellular events and functions)?
When we look at ourselves as a school of particles, we realize that there is nothing inherent in any one of these particles, the supposed forces that supposedly govern their interactions and doings, that confers consciousness. Does the school of fish have consciousness? Or are the fish themselves consciously arranging themselves?
Does the human (school of atoms) have consciousness ? Or are the particles consciously arranging themselves?
I think I can think of two possible explanations for this. Maybe 3.
The 3rd removes the ego. We believe that inanimate things do not have consciousness. The air floating around my head is not conscious, supposedly. I am special. I am alive. But what is alive?! All that I am is a collection of inanimate molecules, yet I believe that I am alive.
If I cut off my finger, my once living finger. Now, it is on the floor, no longer a part of me (apparently) and part of the inanimate world. It is not alive. But what is missing? Attachment to my brain and heart? Do electrochemical signals confer consciousness? All that electrochemical signals are, are gradients (flowing from high to low or vice versa) of positively or negatively charged particles, usually sodium or potassium ions, or the transmission of electrons – all of which we think of as inanimate. Heart? It is just a collection of inanimate particles pumping by force inanimate fluids.
There is nothing in or of our body that we could remove, even our brain or heart or blood, that would be considered to remain alive and conscious. Any objective observer would call any of the parts of the body removed to be inanimate.
So perhaps every single thing in the universe has consciousness. Is this possible? I don’t know. The reason why I doubt this, for now, is that, well, I am made up of a number of orders and orders of magnitude of particles, and if each has their own consciousness, why does it appear that I experience only one consciousness? This is a tricky thing, I will probably give it some thought later.
The 1st explanation I had invokes a soul. The soul is the thing that experiences, both consciousness, and just experience in general. Where can an experience be felt? Does oxygen experience ‘floating’ as it moves around the clouds? I don’t know. Perhaps. All that I do know is that I experience things. I experience things, and although on a macroscopic scale, at this perspective, I appear to be connected by particles, but if I could zoom myself down smaller and smaller, I would quickly realize that I am not connected physically whatsoever, that is to say, no part of my physical body is physically in contact with any other part. The same way if you looked up at the sun or a star and thought that it was this one glowing thing, really that light is a conglomeration of (lets just say lots) of photons, each of them separate. We look at a galaxy. If we zoom out enough, it would like like a bright dot in a sea of black, compressed and physically in contact with its surroundings. If we zoom in more and more, we see there are separate galaxies, and each galaxy has space between their solar systems, and the solar systems have space between the planets, and on the planets there is space between a field and the ocean, and in the ocean there is a school of fish, and in between the fish there is water, and in between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms that make up water there is emptiness, and if we got smaller and smaller, that space between the hydrogen and oxygen molecules would appear to be nothing but infinite.
So, perhaps a soul must exist, as it confers me my experience and my being. I, in fact, do not even exist. “Me” is in a constant state of flux. I am never truly in existence. At any given moment, oxygen (something supposedly not a part of me) is entering my lungs and blood and cells, these oxygen molecules (inanimate, not a part of me) get integrated and absorbed, some will fuel chemical reactions (glycolysis) some will be added to proteins, to fats, to carbohydrates, to my cell membrane, to my heart, to my brain. That thing that wasn’t a part of me, will become part of me. And at any given moment, my body will breathe out, and dispose of these seemingly inanimate things that were once part of my cell brain, my skin, my cell membranes, my genes, my proteins, my hormones. The same is happening every time I eat, poop, pee, scratch myself (skin flaking off), bleed. Every few years every atom in my body is replaced. Yet here I am. I am flux, never quite existing.
Except for my soul.
The 2nd explanation that I can think of, is that all that there is in the universe is consciousness. This is all just a thought, experiencing itself, perhaps by myself, perhaps by god, perhaps there is no distinguishing between such concepts.
Modern physics such as quantum theory states that there really isn’t such a thing as an electron. You can’t know where it is and where it is going at any point. It is impossible. What exists is a probabilistic electron field, and when that field is excited in one way, an electron appears there, and when it is excited in another way, the electron appears to exist there.
The same is true of the most basic subatomic elements of our universe, such as the higgs-boson (higgs-boson field).
Quantum theory would also state that things only exist when you experience/measure/become conscious of them. Shrodingers cat is neither but also both dead and alive, up until the moment that we open the box and see for ourselves. The act of witnessing or experiencing or observing something actually FORMS it into reality.
I won’t even start thinking or talking about multiple realities, multiple universes, or simulation theory (our universe is nothing more than a simulation).
If the entire universe is just energy, if you want to call it that, or simply just a thought, a consciousness, experiencing itself, this would make quite a bit of sense.
If we maintained an egocentric view of this explanation, we could say that nothing exists in this universe except our own consciousness. I don’t have a body, only I consciously create it. When I look up and see my laptop screen, it isn’t there to be seen, rather my consciousness creates it. If we maintain that we do indeed have a body, it can be explained that the light (photons/waves) coming from my laptop screen move in all directions. Some of those photons/waves hit my eye. My eye doesn’t “see” anything, just as a bat doesn’t “see” its environment, nor the special star nosed mole (can’t remember the exact species) “see” its environment. What happens is a signal hits my optic nerve, and that gets interpreted and translated to other signals, until it reaches my brain. My brain then CREATES an image for my mind to understand.
The bat has ears, and uses sound waves. Those sound waves are nothing more than vibrations, physical matter (oxygen in the air) pulsating and vibrating, one molecule at a time, until the vibration reaches the bats ear. That data is translated to a signal, and its brain creates an ‘image’ of its 3D surroundings.
The type of star nosed mole that I can’t name smells. It smells specifically out of either nostril, or both, and like humans that collect data from their overlapping field of view to create a 3D map of their surroundings, this mole smells its environment and uses overlapping data from both nostrils to create a 3D map.
My brain creates the image. I create my reality. It is CREATED. And it is created in, and exists in our consciousness only. So, in this explanation, I have nothing but consciousness. That is all that is known, as Descartes and so many others have variously spoke of. I create my body, I create my environment, I create my experience. The same way that when I day dream or close my eyes and think, I create everything that happens in there.
Anyway, I ran out of steam a long time ago and got careless in my writing. It was quite the ramble. It took way more time than I thought, and I have stuff to do.
All that I wanted to think about was, well, there is nothing inherent in any form of matter that produces consciousness. I think there are a few reasons why I am conscious, one or more or something I haven’t thought of must then create my consciousness. I have accepted that there is probably no difference between consciousness and soul. Both of those things are just words, they are symbols, symbols for actual things. You can call it a soul or consciousness or483@@$d^^^, it is the thing that experiences, and I believe that it exists outside of physical matter. That or all matter has consciousness, but I maintain that matter might not exist, but surely consciousness does, as I am conscious.