By Gerald Edelman, Giulio Tononi
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Additional resources for A Universe Of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination
To avoid becoming mired too deeply in philosophical arguments, we should ponder the following: Being and Describing. Being comes first, describing second. If consciousness is a physical process, albeit a special one, only embodied beings can experience consciousness as individuals, and formal descriptions cannot supplant or provide such experience. No description can take the place of the individual subjective experience of conscious qualia. The physicist Schrödinger once put it this way: No scientific theory itself contains sensations and perceptions.
Instead of analyzing the everchanging situations played out in everyman’s private theater, we concentrate on a few principles that, like the three unities of classical drama—time, place, and action—they all share. In this chapter, we therefore focus on those fundamental aspects of conscious experience that are common to all its phenomenological manifestations: privateness, unity, and informativeness. THE IRREPRESSIBLE WHOLENESS OF BEING: PRIVATENESS, UNITY, AND COHERENCY OF CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE In the foreword to his classic, The Integrative Action of the Nervous System, Charles Sherrington expressed the personal and unitary character of consciousness with his usual eloquence: “Each waking day is a stage dominated for good or ill, in comedy, farce, or tragedy, by a dramatis persona, the ‘self’.
The mesh that is stained with the so-called Golgi stain actually appears sparse because only a small proportion of the cells are impregnated by the stain. A key characteristic of neuronal patterns at the microscopic level is their density and spread. The body of a single neuron measures up to about 50 microns (thousandths of a millimeter) in diameter, although its axon can range from microns to meters in length. In a tissue like the cerebral cortex, neurons are packed together at an extraordinary density; if all of them were stained with silver in the so-called Golgi stain used to visualize them in the microscope, the stained microscopic section would be pitch-black.
A Universe Of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination by Gerald Edelman, Giulio Tononi