Consciousness is just observing. Hot Tub Harry is just an illusion, like the rest of us.

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There is no homunculus, and there is also no Harry. The entity that calls itself “Harry” is just a curious property of this entity’s consciousness — a kind of bonus that comes from our ability to remember our past: Although our brains change continuously throughout our lives, the changes are generally small enough so that we retain a sense of continuity from one minute to the next, even from one year to the next. The sense of continuity creates the illusion of “self” or “I” or “me.”

As real as the self feels, however, it is truly just an illusion — one that is vulnerable to disruption. Psychedelic drugs, a head injury, oxygen deprivation, mental illness, disease and aging can all degrade the sense of self, even obliterate it completely. I have met people in clinical settings who have completely lost their sense of self; it is painfully sad. Are such people conscious? Yes, but because they have no identity and very little past, their conscious experience is limited mainly to the observation of their current environment.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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