December 31, 2011

Antonio Damasio on the quest to understand consciousness


Trackback URL for this entry is:


Shalom Mano,

I enjoyed watching this the other day. One of the reasons I have no fear of death -- pain prior to death is another matter -- is that I've come to understand that sleep, the loss of consciousness, is a preview of death. There will come a day when I don't regain consciousness, when I won't wake up, but since I won't be conscious of that reality, there really is nothing to fear.

I also think of a story by Tom Bodett (he of Motel Six and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me fame) about waking before his infant son one morning, listening to him wake up and hearing him utter a single word upon opening his eyes: "Wow!"

That pretty much sums it up for me and is the reason that when people ask me how I am today I always respond: "I woke up. After that the day is all gravy."



Posted by Jeff Hess on January 1, 2012 06:45 AM


I agree. Some time ago you had mentioned that sleep was similar to death and I remember being quite taken with that idea. You are right, knowing that we "die" every night and almost always come back to life the next day makes the prospect of that one inevitable exception easier to deal with.

Posted by Mano on January 1, 2012 11:08 AM

Excellent video. TED itself is a great idea. The talks are out of the box and inspiring

Posted by George Marikas on January 2, 2012 05:08 AM

Interesting what he has to say about the self.

But consciousness is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Unlikely that scientists will ever fully understand its mechanisms.

Posted by Ed on January 4, 2012 06:35 PM

From this eighteen minutes we receive a refreshing acknowledgment that humans are not the only living things on earth to possess consciousness, and an incredibly simplistic model of consciousness based on certain neurological structures and corresponding regulatory mechanisms. Clearly, we have made nothing more than baby steps toward solving this particular mystery, and any form of self-congratulation in this area is premature.

Practitioners of meditation and lucid dreaming are able to remain conscious at different brainwave frequencies, and have very different experiences in those states from the familiar world of physical reality. We're missing a huge part of the picture if we consider only waking life to be the domain of consciousness.

Posted by Jeffrey Thompson on January 4, 2012 08:21 PM