Do you believe consciousness exists in this reality? Is it merely a by-product of brain function? Is it contained somewhere in the brain?
Do you believe in the possibility that consciousness can continue to exist after death
These questions appear here. I have decided to combine the two because they deal with the same subject matter, that is, consciousness. We all must be aware that this happens to be one of the questions that our species has been attempting to answer for centuries if not millenia and as such a blog post by yours truly would not be sufficient in dealing with this problem. Having said that, we will then attempt to give the question an attempt.
I am not a neuro-scientist and so in order to answer this question, I would first like us to look at the definition of consciousness, definitions that we will use for the purposes of this post. There are many definitions of consciousness and I will list a few here then continue to answer the above questions and I hope you will excuse the digression.
consciousness is a schematic model of one’s state of attention
the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself
sentience,awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind
Looking at the definitions above, one thing is evident, that is, that consciousness is intricately associated with awareness and the state of the brain. It is a brain state and does not exist separately as an entity independent of the brain.
The second question I will answer to the negative. To put it in perspective, I will quote a few passages from the lecture on death by Mangasarian.
He writes of the ego
I care not if the loftiest, the freest, the fairest portions of my mind be eternally living and radiant in the supreme gladnesses, they are no longer mine; I do not know them. Death has cut the network of nerves or memories that connected them with the I know not what centre wherein lies the sensitive point which I feel to be all myself. They are now set loose floating in space and time, and their fate is unknown to me as that of the most distant constellations. Anything that occurs exists for me only upon the condition that I be able to recall within that mysterious being which is I know not where precisely nowhere, which I turn like a mirror about this world whose phenomena take shape only in so far as they are reflected on it.
And elsewhere he writes, which I agree with
it seems that a survival with our present consciousness is as impossible and as incomprehensible as total annihilation.
I don’t think I need to say more than I have already said above in answer to the questions even though my answers are brief.