Any discussion of consciousness must begin with the assumption that it exists. When we talk about "consciousness", we mean the phenomenon affording subjective individuals access to reality, which may be the same phenomenon that constitutes these subjective individuals.
Consciousness is almost certainly invisible. By most definitions consciousness refers to the inner experiences of human beings, in the same field as perceptions and beliefs. Consciousness may thus be impossible to measure, and scientific explanations of consciousness may be instantly doomed. The current scientific model of the universe is insufficient to describe consciousness, as it assumes that all reality is physical.
Consciousness is like the needle of a record player.
Proofs of the existence of consciousness
Everybody knows consciousness exists. Why? Because it's so fucking obvious. However, it has become inexplicably popular in recent decades to deny that consciousness exists. Arguments for something so self-evident would normally not be necessary, but in order to buck the trend of physicalism, a few will be offered here.
- Consciousness is said not to exist because it is not tangible. It is said that only things that you can see and touch and trip over are real. But this model falls apart without the existence of consciousness, because it makes perception the benchmark of reality, and for perception to exist, there must be something perceiving as well as something being perceived.
- Frank Jackson's 'Blind Mary' thought experiment - Mary is born blind. She goes to college to study science, and learns all about electromagnetic waves, neurophysiology, the visual cortex, and everything pertaining to light and colour. Though she has never seen light or colour in her life, she knows everything that science can tell her about the material causes of light and colour. It is hard to deny that there is still something she definitely does not know, namely what colours actually look like. If she then had an operation to restore her sight, she would discover a property of light that had nothing to do with the physical. The quality of what a colour looks like exists only in the realm of consciousness, not physical reality.
How to test if you are concious
We spend most of our lives in a partly unconscious state. This can vary from about 15% to 100%, depending on the person and also on your definition of conciousness. It is possible to test if you are concious. One way is to do a very complex scan of your brain and compare it to scans of other people's brains when they were concious. If you can note that the same area's of the brain are active, then you are concious.\ The next method is a little less expensive. Just before you go to get them scans done, ask yourself "Could I decide to get these scans done if I was not concious?" Many people would argue and their argument has some merit that yes you could decide to go get these scans if you were not concious because a lot of human actions (breathing for example) are carried out by the unconcious. It would be very unsettling for someone to even contemplate the idea that when he/she decides that they are going to make a cup of nice tea for themselves that this decision was made by their unconscious. It may not be nice to think it but this is definitely true...... Don't believe me? Then ask yourself this next time you take a spoon out of that drawer instead of a knife, "Was I concious of taking out that spoon?" This is a regular occurrence: you go to the same drawer every day and the drawer always contains the knifes, forks, spoons and sporns in the same place, yet a lot of the time you still go for the wrong one. The reason this happens is that for a very brief period your unconscious takes over and for a split second you do become unconscious. Another example is when you are on a long bus journey going to infinity or talking to someone who is droning on and on about something that you have no interest in and you minds starts to wander off. Your brainwaves start to drop down to delta brain waves. Delta brain waves are the same waves that are emitted when in the first stage of sleep. (Yes, your brain does emit waves.) These brainwaves can be measured using various scientific devices. If you can always answer the question "Am I fully concious?" with "Yes!" - then you are either lying, mistaken or the Messiah, as nobody is ever totally concious because a lot of the body's processes are carried out by the unconscious part of the brain. The closest you can get to pure conciousness is when you enter into a meditative state that also uses extreme cold to bring down the body's temperature. A good way to do this is to meditate in a bath of ice cold water (it is not a good idea to do this alone as you may slip in total unconciousness and die), as the body's systems start to slow and blood flow slows, less and less of the unconscious part of the brain is needed to control the body and thus is freed up for the concious part of the psyche to inhabit. If you find the idea of spending most of your waking life in an unconscious state it might be a good idea to ask yourself once in a while "Am I concious?".... This is also a technique used in lucid dream induction.