Dear Consciousness

Some of the questions about the evolution of humankind that we find most wonderous are those about the emergence of human consciousness.  For, undeniably, there is something that sets human consciousness apart from even our closest evolutionary relatives.  But there are so many questions marks surrounding what human consciousness is, how/why it happened, and what is means/where it will lead.  Each of these questions is complicated and fascinating in its own right, and generally interrelated with the others.  To add weight to the wonders of this emergent mystery of the mind, the answers to these questions often form the base for hard and terrible decisions, as well as the potential for ever-increased interconnection.

From one taoist perspective, there is a certain irony to the emergence of consciousness.  With it, we lost our pre-conscious connection to the moment and replaced it with an awareness of it.  In other words, this means that in gaining an awareness of ourselves in Tao, we stopped being in Tao.  We somehow found a way to detach ourselves from the immediacy of reality, and to critically and creatively imagine alternatives to it and possibilities within and beyond the immediate.  This is an important part in the foundation for the proliferation of homo sapiens across the globe to this point in existence, the mutation beneath the idea of civilization.  It is also a seemingly irreversible complexity in the human condition.  It might be that we can recapture some of our more primal connection, potentially even improve upon it.  But a return to the preconscious-unconsciousness might be difficult if not impossible.  Assuming we’d even want to go there.

Here are a few links to articles, books, essays, web-sites, excerpts that consider some of these massive and enduring questions from a few different perspectives.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  The links are organized into three categories.  If you have any links of your own, please send them in.


What is Jaynesian Consciousness?


A (very) short conversation with a cow.

What is the Great Leap Forward?

A Brief History of the Mind

Consciousness From Beyond: A Space Odyssey.

On cats and their food

A review of Alva Noe’s Out of Our Heads.

Letters and Essays

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