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Consciousness Isn’t Special
This is something I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain: Consciousness isn’t special. It feels special because it’s the subjective experience of how our minds work. But trying to understand magick by understanding consciousness is like trying to understand running or driving or baking by understanding consciousness. It’s just the wrong entry point.
At some point, once we understand all the steps that connect your thoughts to a change in the world, understanding consciousness might help. But that’s so far from when we are now, that at this point, consciousness is a red herring.
Should Brain Scans Show Consciousness?
In response to a comment on that post saying that, if scientists could ever understand consciousness, they would have already because of all these awesome brain scanners we have (MRIs, fMRIs, etc):
Brain scanners see brain regions, not individual nerves. It would be like trying to understand a computer program by seeing which disk sectors were accessed, but not being able to see what data was being written. Everyone agrees consciousness emerges from neural behavior — it’s the subjective experience of this information-processing object called a brain — but you won’t be able to understand just how it emerges unless you could see how each nerve behaves. And we can’t.
The Path to a Mature Science
I wrote about this quite a bit a few months ago. I’ve realized, you can’t force a field down another field’s path. You can’t explore psychology the way you explore physics, or computer science like chemistry, or economics like biology. They’re too fundamentally different.
I think the key to exploring magick as a science is trying to get to the underlying reasons behind the results you get — find all the steps that happen between “I do this ritual” and “This result happens.” Which is really saying, you need to unravel cause and effect, which is the broadest question that all the sciences try to answer.
But beyond that, I think it’s better to explore and experiment a field on its own terms, than to worry about following a particular science’s path. Each field has to take its own path to a mature science, and you can’t see the path except in hindsight.If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.