What is the ultimate definition of being awake?

These are my considerations:

At night, when I sleep, I can't say I am a sleep. But when I think about it the next morning, I would say I was asleep. But when I woke up in my dream and manipulate it by will (lucid dream), I would say I was not asleep at that particular moment.

But this is only a black/white compare, either true of false. Relatively I would say I was less asleep/more awake during the lucid dream than the rest of the night. The same counts for being awake during the day. I am not fully awake => I can't do exactly what I want to. E.g. I can't teleport/do telepathy when I want to/lucid dream instantly/heal a decease of somebody/create life instantly/etc. But I am more awake than during the night, because I consider my existence consciously more often during the day.

So my definition of being awake doesn't exist. I would translate that question to: being in the most wakeful state possible. Which can alter over time for worse or better.

But then again, you have causality in one dimension, but up another dimension there is a more general causality, which superseded the one of the dimension below. So you can think you are fully awake in one dimension, yet could have no knowledge/experience of the superseding dimension above. Therefore being fully asleep relatively to the superseding dimension.

So now I am totally lost in what defines "being awake"? In terms of dimensions its only possible to 'quantify' (however that may work) how awake you are in that certain dimension.

My conclusion and question So is it logically to conclude that "being awake" is always relative, and so "being awake" doesn't exist? And therefore only a quantitative state of wakefulness exists? Which is quantified by how wakeful you are in the most general dimension(superseding to other dimensions)?

NOTE: I wanted to use the tags "awake" "wakefulness" "asleep" but I am not allowed to create those yet. Whats a philosophy website without the word "awake"?

  • Why I am downvoted? A clarifying comment would be helpful as I consider this a question which can have an answer. I am trying to show my effort as well, instead of just stating a question. – Mike de Klerk Aug 27 '13 at 10:10
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    Please note that the discussion about creating tags happens in the meta section of this site. – iphigenie Aug 27 '13 at 12:56
  • @iphigenie Thank you, I did not know that. Its that what is causing my down votes? I feel like I am not understood, asking this question. – Mike de Klerk Aug 27 '13 at 19:43
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    Pausing to give some time to work through reformulating this a little bit. There's a lot of different problems here that might be better approached separately (keep in mind you can always ask more questions.) It might help if we can try to clarify exactly what you might be looking for someone to explain to you; what exactly is the problem you're facing? What has your research turned up so far? – Joseph Weissman Aug 27 '13 at 23:34

Being awake isn't fundamental. Rather, we find that sometimes we have persistent memory and perceptions apparently driven by external factors also observed by others; and other times we have transient memories and flighty perceptions not shared with others; and other times it seems most parsimonious to say that there was a period during which we were unaware (because external events look like they kept going during that time).

Now that we have all these observations, it is convenient to give these states of awareness names. We choose "awake" for the first, "asleep" for the last, and "dreaming" for the one in the middle.

Having an incredibly robust definition of what counts as "awake" is no more necessary than is having an incredibly robust definition of what counts as a "chair" (or any other term in language). We can each learn about these phenomena from direct experience and then apply a shared label, rather than learning about them from definitions. As long as we are acting with other people who wake, sleep, and dream, we are still able to communicate effectively.

  • I do not find your answer satisfactory. I am missing the distinction of being awake as 'the general crowd' would refer to, and being awake of those who are enlightened (greater consciousness). It clearly differs in quantity. And something can only be quantified if you have the proper definition. So I am not asking for a definition that is given by a dictionary for 'the general crowd', rather I am seeking a definition to be able to quantify the state of wakefulness. Being able to do that, one can monitor a persons [pro/re]gression of wakefulness over time during therapy/training for example. – Mike de Klerk Aug 27 '13 at 19:41
  • "learn about these phenomena from direct experience and then apply a shared label" This doesn't work with consciousness and wakefulness. I you have a greater developed consciousness, (lets express it in bits, say 32-bits), and you are talking to your neighbor about being awake who has a lesser developed consciousness (lets say 16 bits) then he can't grasp your 32-bit definition of being awake. As your state of being awake encloses more possibilities (2^32) than the on of your neighbor (2^16). Explain a 32-bit piece of information to a 16-bit processor? It isn't able to grasp the whole at once. – Mike de Klerk Aug 27 '13 at 19:50
  • @MikedeKlerk - Awake is the wrong word. You are looking for, and have used "enlightened". The word "awake" is already taken to describe the distinction from sleep and dreaming. Trying to describe more than N states with only N different words (and using only of them) only leads to confusion. However, your question includes a very dubious assumption, which is that you actually can relate different states of consciousness in a linear way. If I experience a vast richness of odor information that you do not, and you have a depth of introspection I do not...what then? – Rex Kerr Aug 27 '13 at 20:44

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