John C. Eccles (Biological view)
o …An introductory statement for the evolution of consciousness is that one cannot expect that consciousness came to higher animals as a sudden illumination. Rather, as with life originating in a prebiotic world, it would be anticipated that consciousness came secretly and surreptitiously into a hitherto mindless world. Moreover, as we attempt to discover evidence for consciousness from the study of animal brains and behaviour, we can only assess probability. We search for manifestations of consciousness in mammals because we recognize it as central to the ongoing human experiences, the qualia; that fill our waking life like a rich tapestry replete with feelings, thoughts, memories, imaginings, and sufferings. Our experience is uniquely ours, but we are rescued from solipsism by communication with other human beings by language and other subtle creations, such as music and gesture, and by sharing our immersion in a rich inherited culture….
o The cerebral cortex with the synaptic machinery of its dendrons can be regarded as a functionally effective neural design that evolved in natural selection as a purely material structure for efficient performance of the cerebral cortex in integrating the increased complexity of neural inputs that resulted from the evolutionary advances in receptors for special senses-light, sound, touch, movement, and olfaction. The hypothesis is that biological evolution induced in the neocortex the design of apical dendrites that is recognized as a dendron and that had as a side effect the capacity for interacting with the world of the mind. And so, psychons came to exist. Thus, it is sufficient for the emergence of consciousness. It will be noted that the hypothesis is restricted to the role of the cerebral cortex in providing an explanation of how in evolution the cerebral cortex came to interact with the "mind world." The actual experiences, qualia, provided by the mind world psychons-light, color, sound, touch, taste, smell, pain, intentions, feeings, and memories-in all of their uniqueness are not explained….
o Thus, conscious experiences would give evolutionary advantage. This simple consciousness need not be an enduring entity but may merely exist from moment to moment according to the activities of the cerebral cortex. The brain would provide an enduring memory that gives the animal a continuity of behavior and of feeling of existence. Nevertheless, the conscious experiences can be assumed to include quite complicated qualia of devoted attachment and enjoyment as well as pain….
o The notion that human consciousness has evolved is a largely undisputed claim. However, the notion that human consciousness is currently evolving, in such a way that we can consciously participate in this process, is an emergent theme in academic research…
o Evolution is in this view neither progress nor development, but crystallization of the invisible in the visible… (Gebser)
o The spaceless and timeless phenomena (that) arise from the vegetative intertwining of all living things (as) realities in the egoless magic (conscious) sphere. . . . earth-bound and earth imprisoned, natural and primal . . . (requiring) the almost superhuman attempt to (be) free . . . from the fusion with nature. (Gebser)
o Indian cultural period during the magic-mythic transition.
o Earth as Maya (illusion), Spirit as Home;
o Internalization of rhythms of nature through poetic speech;
o Development of spiritual practice or Yoga;
o Sanskrit as complex language development.
o An integral consciousness will become the basis of an entire harmonization of life through the total transformation, unification, integration of the being and the nature. (Aurobindo)
o Key Features of Mythic Consciousness
o The emergent awareness of the inward-turned world of the soul;
o The development of complex mythology, requiring imagination and a new degree of cognitive coherence;
o The development of astronomy, calendars and other complex mathematical systems...
o this new consciousness became hybridized with several other characteristics:
o The awakening of the independent ego, or individualism—the heroes;
o The birth of rational philosophy in Greece, through Thales, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle;
o The inner-directness towards self-knowledge;
o The beginnings of the Axial age with the birth of several major religions;
o The shift from picture-based writing to the more abstract writing using the Greek alphabet;
o Beginnings of formal mathematics with Pythagoras;
o The development of the world’s first democratic city-state in Athens in 500 BCE, followed by the formalization of politics and legislation;
o The origins of formal education in the 4th century BCE with Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum sowing the first seeds of higher education.
Ulrich J. Mohrhoff (Gebser & Mother’s views)
o The new attitude will be consolidated only when the individual can gradually begin to disregard his ego. . . . Consciousness of self was the characteristic of the mental con-sciousness structure; freedom from the “I” is the characteristic of the integral con-sciousness structure.
o The undivided, ego-free person who no longer sees parts but realizes the “Itself,” the spiritual form of being of man and the world, perceives the whole, the diaphaneity present “before” all origin which suffuses everything.
o For someone able to place the whole ahead of his ego in his daily affairs. . . , for someone able to act out of ego-freedom, the world and even his daily life will become transparent. And when this happens, the events and phenomena of his surroundings will set them-selves right. Both the social and the technological systems (which result from an over-emphasized rationality whose deficient emphasis has made them possible) will restructure themselves since they are incongruous with the new mode of realization and its restructuration of the world.
o In the Vedic ontology, from which Aurobindo derived his concept of consciousness, consciousness is not only seen as individualized awareness. It is the very essence of everything in existence and as such not only the source of individuation and the sense of self, but also a formative energy: ‘‘Consciousness is not only power of awareness of self and things, it is or has also a dynamic and creative energy. It can determine its own reactions or abstain from reactions; it can not only answer to forces, but create or put out from itself forces. Consciousness is Chit but also Chit Shakti, awareness but also conscious force.’’ Consciousness is moreover not considered a simple yes-no phenomenon that is either there or not, but as manifesting in a hierarchy ranging from the seeming obliviousness of matter below, to the seemingly super-conscient Spirit above. All three aspects of consciousness—its cosmic nature, its energy aspect, and its ability to differentiate itself into varying forms and degrees—combine to produce the processes of involution and evolution of consciousness that have given to our world its particular character:
o Consciousness is a fundamental thing, the fundamental thing in existence—it is the energy, the motion, the movement of consciousness that creates the universe and all that is in it—not only the macrocosm but the microcosm is nothing but consciousness arranging itself. For instance, when consciousness . . . forgets itself in the action it becomes an apparently ‘‘unconscious’’ energy; when it forgets itself in the form it becomes the electron, the atom, the material object. In reality it is still consciousness that works in the energy and determines the form and the evolution of form. When it wants to liberate itself, slowly, evolutionarily, out of Matter, but still in the form, it emerges as life, as animal, as man and it can go on evolving itself still farther out of its involution and become something more than mere man.
o …consciousness is not seen as something produced by the brain, or limited to humans, but rather as a fundamental aspect of reality, if not the very essence of it. As one of the oldest Upanishads, the Brhada¯ranyaka, says about the Ultimate Reality, ‘‘This great being, infinite, without bounds, is just a mass of consciousness’’
o Consciousness is not possible without delight in its own existence, nor can there be delight that is not conscious.
o The supramental knowledge, as Aurobindo describes it, is based on a fully conscious identity with the whole. It knows the universe as if from inside. Perhaps one could say that it knows the world in the way the Divine knows the world, and if there is limitation of knowledge or power it is a willed and conscious diminution for the sake of the harmony and development of the whole.
o “It’s as if the consciousness were no longer in the same position with respect to things, so they appear totally different. The ordinary human consciousness, even the broadest, always occupies the center position, and things exist in relation to that center: in the human consciousness, you are in one point, and everything exists in relation to that point of consciousness. But now, the point is no longer there! So things exist in themselves. . . . My consciousness is within things; it isn’t something that “receives.””
o Before, each thing was separate, divided, unconnected with others, and very superfi-cial. . . . It doesn’t feel like that anymore. It mainly gives a feeling of intimacy, that is to say, there is no distance, no difference, no “something which sees” and “something which is seen.”
o What I mean by Oneness is that you can’t distinguish between conceiving the action, the will to act, the action itself, and the result. . . . All is one, simultaneous. But how? It can’t be explained — it simply can’t! You can get a glimpse of the experience, but . . . ultimately, it’s inexpressible.
o Our habitual state of consciousness is to do something FOR something. . . . There used to be a kind of mainspring, which had its raison d’être and so persisted: do this to arrive at that, and this leads to that (it’s more subtle, of course); but this mainspring suddenly seems to have been abolished. Now a kind of absoluteness prevails at each and every second, in each movement, from the most subtle, the most spiritual, to the most material. The sense of linking has disappeared: that isn’t the “cause” of this, and this isn’t done “for” that; there is no “there” one is heading towards — it all seems . . . an absolute — in-numerable, perpetual and simultaneous. The sense of connection has gone, the sense of cause and effect has gone — all that belongs to the world of space and time.
o I have a feeling that to have access to the highest and purest power, the very notion of “result” must disappear completely — the Supreme Power has no sense of result at all. . . . The idea of something behind or ahead in time and so on is . . . it’s rather a Truth changing from immutable Eternity into Eternity of manifestation.
[w]hat we call “concrete,” a “concrete reality” — yes, what gives you the sense of a “real” existence — that particular sensation has to disappear and be replaced by. . . . It’s beyond words. . . . It’s all-light, all-power, all intensity of love at the same time, and a fullness! It is so full that nothing else can exist beside that. And when “that” is here, in the body, in the cells, it’s enough to direct “it” onto someone or something, and everything falls immediately into place. So, in ordinary terms, it “heals”: the illness is cured. No! it doesn’t cure it: it cancels it! That’s it, the illness is made unreal. . . . For it isn’t the action of a “higher force” through matter, into others: it’s a direct action, from matter to matter. What people usually call “healing power” is a great mental or vital power imposing itself despite the resistance of matter — that’s not at all the case here! It is the contagion of a vibration. So it’s irrevocable.
1. Evolution of consciousness - John C. Eccles
2. Evolution of Consciousness (as a Planetary Imperative) - Jennifer Gidley.
3. Evolution of Consciousness (According to Jean Gebser) - Ulrich J. Mohrhoff
4. Mothers Agenda - http://www.auroville.org/contents/527
6. The Evolution of Consciousness in Sri Aurobindo’s Cosmopsychology - Matthijs Cornelissen