Consciousness is a very subjective experience, and in itself it is difficult to define. For example, we know humans experience consciousness as we are aware of our surroundings and can discuss it.
But, for say, a dog – is it conscious or what levels of consciousness does it possess? Again we know it is aware of its surroundings but is it aware of its existence?
The general consensus is that as a life form gets simpler, it experiences less consciousness.
Another question which continues to baffle experts is what exactly makes consciousness?
Scientists are yet to pinpoint where consciousness stems from within our brain, making it a mystery for centuries.
But one expert believes he now has a solution to this, and argues that consciousness is in all forms of matter throughout the universe, all the way down to quarks and electrons – minute particles which are all around us and the cosmos.
It is a theory known as panpsychism, and philosopher Dr Philip Goff believes it is a way to define consciousness and include it in the scientific world.
The deputy director of philosophy at Durham University, who has authored the new book Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, told Scientific American: “The basic commitment is that the fundamental constituents of reality — perhaps electrons and quarks — have incredibly simple forms of experience.
“It’s at least coherent to suppose that this continuum of consciousness fading while never quite turning off carries on into inorganic matter, with fundamental particles having almost unimaginably simple forms of experience to reflect their incredibly simple nature. That’s what panpsychists believe.
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“The consciousness that I experience has this individual limitation because it is functioning in the world through my body, through my nervous system, through my eyes and ears.
“That’s where our sense of being a unique individual comes from. When we begin to die and let go of our attachment to the body, consciousness lets go of that identity which it gained from its worldly functioning, and reconnects with a greater infinite identity.
“Those who’ve had near-death experiences often report there seems to be this dissolving of the senses, and a moving into light.
“Everything becomes light after death.”
Researchers from the renowned Max Planck Institute for physics in Munich agree and state that the physical universe that we live in is only our perception and once our physical bodies die, there is an infinite beyond.
Dr Hans-Peter Durr, former head of the Max Planck Institute for Physics, previously said: “What we consider the here and now, this world, it is actually just the material level that is comprehensible.
“The beyond is an infinite reality that is much bigger. Which this world is rooted in. In this way, our lives in this plane of existence are encompassed, surrounded, by the afterworld already.
“The body dies but the spiritual quantum field continues. In this way, I am immortal.”