In simple terms, consciousness refers to the potential of perceiving our presence, living beings’ responsiveness, and environmental awareness abilities. The understanding of the term “consciousness” has drastically changed since its inception. It is highly subjective as to which species and human timeline are being considered. The evolution of mankind and all of Earth’s species in general has fostered changes in consciousness cosmologically.
How do you define the consciousness of microorganisms? Are trees and plants, although living, conscious?
Primarily, yes. Trees are responsive to nature and spontaneous in their growth; they evolve with changes. Microorganisms reproduce, spread their species, and respond to changing circumstances, but stating bluntly that they have consciousness seems unsettling. By the book, they are conscious, but simultaneously, they are incapable of questioning their conscious state. They appear to be involuntarily conscious and, in general, appear to be programmed in performing repetitive tasks and responding to specific changes.
For ancient humans, consciousness was confined to feeding themselves and their surviving instincts. By the time humans evolved and learned to communicate with themselves and others, the term “consciousness” had expanded and become more complex. They started questioning their existence and developed an eagerness to learn about their planet and the purpose of their existence. What led to humans becoming the most advanced animal species and tremendously more developed than any other?
Humans developed self-communication as they learned to communicate with others.They incorporated the concept of conversing with themselves because the key to exchanging thoughts and asking questions about their existence—”who created us?” “how was the world formed?” “who exactly am I?”—is self-communication.Subsequently, they developed theories, the concept of deity, different living ideologies, and the idea of ethicality, evolving their consciousness along the way.
An animal is incapable of asking “who am I?” and “who created me?” and this limits their consciousness. They feel emotions like anger and love but don’t have the rational mindset to govern their righteousness. Humans can now, to some extent, govern and control their feelings. Philosophies like nihilism or stoicism exist due to the indulgence of humans in expanding their consciousness. When we walk, we now know that the 6 billion neurons within our bodies work in sequence to complete the action, human development to self-communicate and question, begin their journey to learn about their body, human science, and the laws of the universe, and expand their consciousness.
The difference in understanding consciousness is a major differentiating factor between humans and other organisms. Beyond the concept of learning about one’s own existence and all of one’s sensory abilities, consciousness deals with introspection and scientific knowledge of conscious species. It allows humans to dive into their minds and explain the systematic processes of nature and their bodies.