Is it defined that inert objects by our scientific subjection of them being non-living have no consciousness at all? If that be so, what about viruses? And how would a rock's consciousness differ from a) a Golgi body(organelle) and b)Plasmodium ( a single-celled organism)

  • 1
    I am quite sure that it's almost unanimously agreed that those objects don't have consciousness. Consciousness is an extremely complex system - we aren't entirely sure how it works in humans either – robertmartin8 Sep 14 '14 at 8:25
  • What raises your interest in this question? – Drux Sep 15 '14 at 12:01
  • There are these philosophies in different religions which states that consciousness permeates all of nature and the universe. Like one suffers due the actions of their past life to transform into forms of nature in their new lives. My concepts on these things are shabby as I don't have any formal education in these regards and so please pardon me if anything is incorrect! – Ramit Sep 15 '14 at 12:52
  • +1 Fair enough. Reminds me of preciousness of human rebirths in Buddhist thought: "The likelihood of a blind turtle ..." – Drux Sep 15 '14 at 14:32
  • 1
    @surelyourejoking It's unanimously agreed ... but does that make it true? If a sack of blood and bone like me can think deep thoughts, why can't a rock? Maybe rocks think really slowly, taking millenia to have a single thought. How would we know? – user4894 Sep 16 '14 at 3:25

Brahman is by it's nature consciousness, it permeates everything. Krishna says in the Gita - "That by which all this is pervaded know to be imperishable.." (Gita 2.17) and "And whatever things there be...know they are from me alone. I am not, however, in them; they are all in me." (Gita 7.12) In other words, Brahman, ultimate consciousness, permeates everything and everything exists in Brahman, but from a relative standpoint, all things do not have a relative consciousness and all beings are not aware of their ultimate consciousness.

| improve this answer | |
  • Sir, by beings you are explicitly singling out the biologically defined living beings, right? So, no consciousness is attributed to non-living beings. Then what about semi-living beings like virus? I take it that they are not aware of their consciousness if at all they have consciousness! They being the border-line beings to what we define as living, I wonder what would be the case then. – Ramit Sep 16 '14 at 3:22
  • 1
    Yes, I mean living beings. But the world is not black and white; the world is mostly gray with a little of white and black at the extremes. What is living and what is not is a large gray area. Just as what living beings are self conscious and which ones are not. It is beyond our comprehension to define the limits in the gray areas.. – Swami Vishwananda Sep 16 '14 at 9:59

Just like there is a "critical mass" required to have a nuclear bomb, there is a "critical number of neurons" required for an organism to be conscious (self-aware). although the minimum number has not been established, I would estimate the number should be greater than a million. Based on this, a rock has no consciousness because it has zero neurons. Also, one-cell organisms and up to viruses, have no consciousness, because they don't have enough neurons.

| improve this answer | |
  • This answer confirms to the findings of modern science, true. And, I can relate to this more easily. I was wondering about what the most prevalent philosophical ideas were with regards to this. As, I said above I read on the Buddhist and Hindu philosophies where they claim that consciousness permeates through out the universe. Thanks a lot for your answer though! I didn't know about the critical number of neurones thing! – Ramit Oct 6 '14 at 8:34
  • There is no evidence that consciousness requires neurons. There is, however, evidence that loss of neurons can reduce the consciousness that humans experience. – user2338816 Dec 22 '14 at 1:09

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.