A Contemporary Essay
By Rick Doble

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This essay is from a series of essays by Rick Doble about world and global culture, the cosmos, cosmology, the nature and purpose of life in the Universe, the Big Bang, the future of human civilization on Planet Earth, global warming, the global environmental crisis.
Read these related essays:

Toward a World Culture
Global Problems Today
The Nature Of Life In The Universe
What Is Consciousness?

A Contemporary Essay
By Rick Doble


Professor Michio Kaku has pointed out in his book Visions that while modern science appears to understand most fundamental aspects of nature, it does not yet grasp the nature of consciousness. This got me thinking because it is consciousness and intelligence which gives humans their incredible power, the power to engineer the solar system, for example. Here are my thoughts.

Consciousness is a standing apart, a consideration that happens in a different place/environment than the thing or situation being considered. That place is the virtual or imaginary space of the human mind or the collective virtual space of a group of human minds.

It is a separate dimension because it stands above or outside the world it considers and makes decisions to deal with or shape or create based on its point of view in that realm. It is also a different dimension because within its space things, people and situations that may not be directly present can be contemplated. The mind can view a situation from all angles and it can consider it in relation to a number of possibilities or what-ifs.

Within that virtual human space, symbolic entities (language, math, drawings, maps) can be used to produce an overview and/or to work with a number of possibilities. Based on that work in the virtual realm, the real world can be directed, shaped, molded or even avoided.

While language, maps, drawings, etc. can have existence outside a human being, they are meaningless without the interior understanding of a human mind. When several people look at a drawing, each person has an understanding of the map and the discussion progresses based on that shared understanding.


Consciousness is closely related to intelligence and thought. I believe that thought can be divided into five levels; each level is higher than the next but can refer to levels below it.

Each higher level can attain more power over the world. For example, Newton's understanding that the apple that fell from the tree to the Earth was controlled by the same force that controlled the orbit of the moon, lead to a detailed understanding of laws of motion which lead to the Industrial Revolution.

Literal thought:
This rose is red.
The sun is setting.

The sun sets later in the summer than in the winter.
Many flowers display various shades of red.

A young girl is like a beautiful flower.
When the sun sets, it is like a door closing.

The girl in her red dress dances like the sun's last moments before it sets.

Ritual requires that at the darkest days of the year, our tribe light fires and candles to prevent the sun from being swallowed up by the darkness.


One theory about the dominance of the human race (homo sapiens) is that we are capable of these levels of thought, whereas the Neanderthals may have been limited to literal thought.

I would love to see these levels of thinking tested. Brain wave patterns could be compared for the different kinds of thought, for example.

With some new theories postulating more than four dimensions for the universe, such as super string theory, it is valid to ask whether human consciousness is one or more of those dimensions since it is clearly a separate dimension, i.e. a virtual or imaginary dimension. I would love to see this idea explored and used in computer simulations.

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