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What is Consciousness?

January 29, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm PST

What is Consciousness? It is conventionally thought of as awareness of ourselves and our surroundings. But when Chalmers asks the ‘hard question’ about why we see red when we are in pain, or Andy Clark talks about the extended mind, the conventional definition is found wanting, inadequate and superficial. We make a systematic error in trying to understand such complex physiologic properties as consciousness synchronically in ‘real time’. Instead we must use ways to delve into consciousness diachronically, transcending space-time. A novel approach to evolution based on cell-cell communications is just such a method for understanding consciousness, as the way in which embryologic development occurs. Using that approach, a path can be found from physiology to consciousness as the Consciousness that is the Data Operating System of the Cosmos. That sounds metaphysical, but rest assured it is founded on hard scientific evidence. By tracing physiology back to its unicellular origin as serial pre-adaptations, the logical question arises as to what the pre-adaptation for the cell was. Hypothetically, the template for the cell was the Singularity that existed prior to the Big Bang. And since physiology evolved from matter by endogenizing (Margulis) those obstacles to survival such as heavy metals, gases, ions, bacteria, and generated physiology by compartmentalizing them, it can be realized that the aggregate of our physiology as consciousness is derived from the Consciousness of the Cosmos, our consciousness metaphorically being the ‘software’ that runs on the cosmologically-based Consciousness ‘hardware’. The relationship to Whitehead’s “Process Theory” will be discussed.

Recommended Reading: What is Conciousness? The Periodic Table and Evolutionary Biology are Vectors of the Big BangThe Singularity of Nature.

John S. Torday, is the Director of The Henry L. Guenther Laboratory for Cell-Molecular Biology, Harbor-UCLA. He received his PhD in Experimental Medicine from McGill University. He subsequently did a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the NIH Reproductive Biology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His first academic position was at Harvard (1976-91), followed by University of Maryland (1991-98), and UCLA (1998-present). He has been continually funded as an independent scientist, having published 200 peer-reviewed articles in academic Journals, and 6 monographs on the evolution of physiology. He is a Fellow of the European Academy of Science and Arts.


January 29, 2020
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Center for Process Studies