I am Space and Time.
I am Coherence.
I am the Pre-Cambrian Explosion of living forms.
I am Gravity and Magnetism.
I am Mechanics and Electrodynamics.
I am Flora and Fauna.
I am Chemistry.
I am Hardware and Software.
I am Mutations.
I am Multiprocessing and Memory.
I am Particles and Subparticles.
I am Conciousness.
I am Macromolecules.
I am Electrochemical Circuitry.
I am Systems and Subsystems.
I am Sensory Input.
I am Homo Habilis.
I am Cognition and Re-cognition.
I am Knowledge.
I am Energy and Momentum.
I am Self-replicating.
I am Homo Erectus.
I am Language.
I am Temperature and Pressure.
I am Rhythms and Cycles.
I am Actions, Thoughts, and Feelings.
I am Cro-Magnon.
I am Mass and Density.
I am Action and Reaction.
I am Homo Sapiens.
I am Evolution and History.
I am Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
I am Adaptation.
I am Identity.
I am Visible and Indivisible.
A. I. MODEL No. 7
A Theory of Identity
Consciousness depends on the brain’s ability to distinguish between self and other.
All living creatures experience some degree of consciousness.
To be conscious, an organism must have the ability to sense and decode information. And, the brain must be able to process information, and to store it in memory.
Without memory, there would be no consciousness.
Living creatures, including humans, have evolved different degrees and methods of consciousness, forced by the necessity to adapt to changing environmental and cultural conditions.
In addition, the brain is able to acknowledge certain parts of itself, as well as its overall identity. This is known as self-consciousness.
Self-consciousness is the brain’s internal reflection of itself, and it’s interests.
Self-consciousness is probably as old as our ability to use symbolic language.
Identity refers to the I or Me, which the brain recognizes as Self.
I or Me may be defined as an interconnection of high-order brain functions that plan and manage the larger details of survival.
For a self-conscious identity to emerge, there are specific criteria that must satisfy a set of initial conditions.
There must be a critical number of individual nerve cells or neurons present in the central nervous system.
There must be strong connections between individual neurons and groups of neurons which are dynamically interlinked with one another, providing a network of associations.
And nerve cells within the network must be able to exchange information, to influence one another, not just route information from one place to another.
This internal feedback system of the brain, the inputting, modifying, and outputting of information between neurons, provides the basis for simple forms of memory and learning.
The ability of the nervous system to shut-down periodically in order to refresh or reconfigure the brain, such as in the state of REM dreaming, may be a necessary condition for an emerging identity.
Another condition is that some form of language or symbolic reasoning is present which can describe external events which occur in three dimensional space over time.
Perhaps a synchronous timing mechanism is required which can combine separate bits of information into a single perception.
The ability to recognize paradox, to discriminate ‘right’ from ‘wrong’, may be a condition for self-consciousness.
And some form of error-correction may be a necessary condition.
Finally, for a complex system to become an individualized consciousness, it must also contain a planning function. It must be able to manage different regions and groups of activities nearly simultaneously.
Stimulation of the brain produces neurochemical impulses that trigger on-off signal responses.
When a brain cell, or neuron, is in the ‘on’ state, a wave impulse travels along the nerve fiber to its end, where it releases a chemical known as a neurotransmitter. The neurotransmitter travels across a synapse, or tiny gap, to another nerve fiber, which in turn causes a new signal to fire. This pattern of firing continues until a particular circuit is complete within the brain.
The chemical process which occurs at the synapse dramatically slows down the transfer of information, and is responsible for the delayed time reactions in our thinking and motor response.
The brain perceives events as random when it cannot distinguish a coherent pattern of activity.
Groups of neurons within the brain are not hard-wired. They often produce unpredictable or ‘random’ associations, based on the synaptic activity that occurs at every level of neurological organization. These chemical inconsistencies provide flexibility at the higher levels of consciousness in the form of cognitive choices and variants, as well as confusion and indecision.
In addition to humans, animals, and plants, other complex systems appear to have a unique character, personality, or even consciousness.
If the necessary requirements are present within a system, then there is no reason why it could not express some form of consciousness, if not self-consciousness.
It is possible that the exchange of information within a system may occur in a series of feedback loops at a large scale of organization, or within each cellular unit at a small scale of activity, or both.
Artist Ron Wallace has suggested that large interactive systems may exhibit a form of consciousness that would be too grandiose to be perceived at the human scale, or for their effects to be recognized as a state of consciousness.
Certain systems which may satisfy the necessary requirements are large communal networks such as cities or nations, large environments including the biosphere and the ecosystem, or astronomical bodies such as the solar system or galaxies, to name a few.
The brain is capable of experiencing different subidentities. We express different parts of ourselves at different times to accommodate specific situations.
Typically, we express different behavior at home and in the workplace. And, our behavior may change in the context of different relationships, institutions, age groups, and genders.
In some cases, the brain may try to camouflage its true identity. But Self can never hide from the brain without causing damage to its overall stability.
For example, we may wish to hide from the brain by saturating it with chemical substances, or other mind-numbing activities, thus dulling our awareness of self and other.
Or a part of the brain may wish to conceal itself in an uncensored display of self-promotion or aggrandizement, leading to still further isolation of one’s identity.
The history of mental illness, most notably schizophrenia, is a catalog of the severe splitting of different parts of the brain from it-Self.
Another way the brain hides from itself, although inadvertently, is through sleeping and dreaming.
Sleeping is the way in which the brain suspends conscious activity. Dreaming, particularly REM dreaming, is a period of intense cognitive activity, in which the brain relies on internal information to form various states of mind. These dreams are shaped solely by memories, without controlled or conscious thought.
Except for certain aspects of lucid dreaming, the form and content of dreams do not follow conventional language patterns. Dreams are typically narrative, but do not seem to call on the higher centers of language for structural continuity or meaning. The result is that the language of dreams is fragmented, the plots are confused, natural laws are disobeyed, and obsession, phobia, and paranoia are commonplace.
All of these dream characteristics are synonymous with textbook definitions of mental pathologies. And all are centered on internal dialogue, involving little or no interaction with the outside world.