According to the YouTube video What Is Consciousness, somebody can know that they are conscious but doesn't know that other people are conscious. I think it might not even be possible for one to prove about oneself that they are conscious. You might be thinking, "How can I think I'm conscious and not be conscious? If I think I'm conscious, that means I am conscious." That just shows that if you make the assumption that you think you are conscious, then you are conscious. How do you prove the assumption that you think you are conscious? You might be thinking you can prove it as follows; "I think I think I'm conscious. Therefore, I think I'm conscious." The problem is that you have not yet proven the assumption that you think you think you're conscious.

Not everybody knows that they're conscious. I once read on a Quora answer about somebody who convinced their younger brother that the latter was dead and then the younger brother started crying while saying "I'm dead." How does anyone then know that they're conscious? Is it by defining knowledge in such a way that you don't have to prove something first to know that it's true? Did we invent a totally new mathematical system and define knowledge in such a way that you know something when you're proven it in that system, where the system allows for the rule of inference that once you see something, you can say that you saw it and anything that mathematically follows from 2 statements you previously said using another rule of inference, you can also say?

  • is the Descartes quote "I think, therefore I am" relevant to this? Sep 11, 2018 at 18:57
  • Children actually start out living in their subconscious minds, gradually becoming more and more conscious over the years. And it's a simple matter to convince a child of practically anything, because they're usually so trusting and naive. A child hasn't had the years of experience needed to figure a lot of things out. It would be far more difficult (or impossible) to convince most adults that life is but a dream. So there is no fair comparison of the level of conscious awareness, between children and adults.
    – Bread
    Sep 11, 2018 at 21:46

1 Answer 1


This could be a simulation; you could be a brain in a vat; you could have "come online" a second ago and have false memories; you could be reincarnated. None of these are easy to dismiss. But the very center is that an experience is being had (subjective experience). This cannot easily be dismissed; in fact, it seems the only completely defensible truth. Whatever is true of objective reality (e.g., laws of physics), subjective experience cannot be removed.

By conscious, if you meant the additional step of knowing that you are conscious, look more into that here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metacognition Being conscious of having experiences goes in and out, for example daily during sleep. Does anyone know they are conscious? It appears yes; some experience is being had here while typing, and part of that experience is about the experience.

There are a lot of words in your question that create new questions and problems such as "I", but it appears the core issue here is about subjective experience.

  • What I really meant was can you define knowledge in such a way that you don't know that you're conscious because you can't figure out a mathematical proof that you're conscious? I guess I didn't make it clear in the question details that I meant that.
    – Timothy
    Sep 11, 2018 at 16:59
  • @Timothy It depends on the definition of "conscious" you have. If you pin down a definition you might proof it. Descartes in fact gave us a starting point, as long as you agree that "conciousness" is to know that at least you exist. knowing is still in question. You can then for example go along with Popper and falsify the opposite assumption that nothing exists. You falsify by perceiving your thoughts, your feelings, your desires. Something must think, feel and desire. This something you call "you" and that fits the definition you gave in the first place. Sep 11, 2018 at 20:16
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    What this shows is that it is possible to know things that cannot be demonstrated. In this case a definition of knowledge cannot say knowledge depends on demonstration or (inter-subjective) testability. It depends entirely on knowing, and 'knowing' is not understood in the natural sciences or any non-esoteric philosophy. . .
    – user20253
    Sep 12, 2018 at 10:22

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