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Consciousness

Definition

Consciousness refers to the subjective experience of oneself and one's environment. This experience includes the awareness of one's feelings and emotions and the awareness of, and perceived control over, one's thoughts and behaviors. Conscious processes stand in contrast to subconscious (or nonconscious) processes, which occur outside of awareness and without intentional control.

Background and History

Consciousness is the familiar lens through which humans view their day-to-day worlds, yet no concept has proven more difficult for people to explain or understand. How do thoughts arise? How does subjective experience relate to, or come out of, physical processes in the brain? Such questions are often referred to as the hard problem of consciousness. It is these questions that challenged thinkers like René Descartes many centuries ago (he suggested that ...

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