Transactions lose transactions;
Attainment loses no transactions.

Few can agree on a definition of consciousness. It doesn't seem to be located in any particular part of the brain, although certain parts must be activated for the individual to be "awake." William James' Psychology: The Briefer Course demonstrates the difficulty in locating consciousness. James says that the units of consciousness are ideas which move rapidly in a stream called a "stream of consciousness." All that gives us the sense of identity is memory.1 I believe that, on our planet, long-term memory is probably unique to humans. It is necessary for the development of language, and language has generally been the litmus test for consciousness or soul in our culture. Some believe that consciousness is only a self-awareness. The etymology of the word implies that it is the awareness of something. But, what is awareness? Is it that which changes in response to its environment? If that is so, then everything in the universe could be considered aware and, therefore, conscious.


Transactions are fixed at the pivot;
Neither consulted nor exhorted;
Their innate powers wither.

For the sake of argument, it is much easier to discuss the most limited view of consciousness, that is, thinking like humans. In humans the conscious mind seems dependent on the unconscious functions of the brain. I see it as a sort of unstable froth which appears as a useful by-product of the rest of the unconscious mind; just like our continents are like a froth on our planet, too light to get sucked down into the basalt below which composes almost all of the material of the Earth. The conscious mind is very unstable in that any change of state caused by emotions, stress, disease, drugs, diet, etc. changes how it functions. Even our memories are changed by different states. The illusion of stability comes from our dependence on it as the monitor of our world. It is also absolutely necessary for social interaction which make human survival possible. However, one only needs to experience L.S.D. or any of the other causes altering states of consciousness to realize just how unstable the conscious mind really is.


Transactions between male and female -
Not betrothed, begetting children.

I believe that scientists must know much more about the functions of the unconscious mind before they can successfully create a mechanical conscious mind that is similar to a human's but there is no reason why they should not be able to do this in the future. The inconsistencies of minds and mental states are part of what gives humans their personalities. If I were testing a computer in the way described as the Turing test, I would ask questions that would help me determine the personalities of the individuals being tested. Even then, our characterizations of others are probably about 90% projection and 10% actual observation.1 Our minds fill in the details.

1 James, William. Psychology; Briefer Course; 1892; rpt. 1985; University of Notre Dame Press.
2 Jung, C.G. Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Vintage Books; 1961.

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