Where Does Conscious Thought Come From?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate September 2001

download word file, 3 pages 0.0

Downloaded 1107 times

Everyday we make hundreds of decisions that we are unaware of. Some decisions are a complex thought process which involve conscious thinking, when we stop and think our decisions through. This applies to the easiest of decisions and thoughts, such as what to wear in the morning. However, most of the decisions that we make are subconscious, in which, for some reason that many people can not understand, we make decisions on impulse . But what causes this sudden decisions? Where do they come from? And how do we know what is in our conscious? Where does that information come from? Are we born with such a complex thought process built into our brains or is it our brain storing past experiences or learned behavior? Many theorists claim that our subconscious is not even part of our brain, but that it is in fact part of our soul or spirit.

So are we born with our souls and therefore our subconscious? In 1983 Social Services found out about a 13 year old girl named Genie who was 13 years old and yet still had had no contact with the outside world. Her parents had locked her up when she was born and never let her out to the outside world. Extensive studies were done on her and it was concluded that she had no conscious thought, at least non like our own. So if a person who had no conscious thought was alive and grown, can we assume that our conscious and subconscious is based on learned behavior and past experiences? There is a old folklore about an Egyptian merchant who sold expensive carpets. One day he sold a priceless rug for only 100 dollars. The man who bought the rug asked the merchant why he sold it for so little. The merchant replied, ³Is there any number greater than 100?² . Now before you pass judgment and assume the merchant had lost his mind, learn his point of view. He was home schooled by his mother, and she only thought it necessary to teach him the numbers up to 100. So to him, he was correct, there was no number greater than 100, even though we may disagree. His past experiences and learned behavior told him that there was no number greater than 100. This brings up and interesting point, many people rely on their consciousness and instincts to help them make important decisions, but how can we be sure that we can trust our consciousness? Each individual person has a different conscious because we each have different past experiences and learned behavior. So if each person is different, how can we be sure that we are correct? Something that seems terrible to you, may be perfectly justifiable to another person.

A reason why our conscious can be made up of past experiences is proved by how we ³learn from our mistakes.² In a survey of 25 of my fellow students, all of different races, different grades and different crowds, they all shared the same views on two questions. If they were attacked by a bear, they all agreed that they would scream and run. And if they were attacked by a puppy, they would either laugh or play with it. How do we know how to react to these different animals? None of the 25 students had ever been attacked by a bear, yet they all agreed they would run from it. Junior Megan Ryan was asked how she knew what she would do and she replied, ³I don¹t know how I know that, I just know that I would be scared so I would run.² This can be explained by how our conscious is created. Yes, past experiences have an input into it, but so does what we are told. If someone says to us, ³Stubbing your toe hurts.² many times we will believe them, if we hear it often enough, and we will never want to stub our toes.

Our consciousness is a combination of our past experiences, learned behavior and what we are told. Each person has a different conscious, and so therefore it is hard to define. The only explanation is that it is a thoughtful process in which our brain can work faster than we can think for ourselves. So can we trust our consciousness to make good decisions and know right from wrong, well if consciousness truly is a part of our soul, we should trust it.