One of the questions that has been occupying my mind a lot for the last year is “What is consciousness?”
One of the supposedly fundamental properties of consciousness is intentionality. That is that consciousness is always about something. That we are never conscious as an abstract thing but rather that consciousness is always accompanies by something that you are conscious of.
Another feature of consciousness is meaning. Now meaning also has intentionality. Meaning is never seen in isolation but rather there is always a meaning of something, never just a meaning. Meaning cannot exist without consciousness. Or rather there can be no meaning if there is no-one to whom the meaning is for.
For instance take a car. What does it mean to be a car? Surely it is a functional definition. A car is a lump of stuff that is used for transport. Of course there are other fundamental qualities without which a car would not be a car but here we will isolate one of them: namely it’s function as a mode of transport.
Now say someone were to come along and use the car as a table. Not only that but believe that that was its function. Would the car still be the car? No it would be a table. A lower level of description – such as the assortment of minerals that made it up – would remain the same.
Now lets go for a further level of abstraction – or rather De-subjectification.What would that which we call a car be if seen from no point in space or time – or every point in space and time? Surely then even the mineral nature of the car would cease to be an anchor as the various elements and compounds that make it up exhibit their mercurial nature!.