Physicists, philosophers, and mathematicians (the type of people who typically amuse themselves by attempting to impress others with their cleverness) tend to seek out elegant, unified theories to explain complexity. The more beautiful the solution, the more attractive — especially in the contemporary era where all such persons seem to harbor the desire to formulate an analog to Einstein’s E = mc2, an exceptional example of an elegant explanation. As a rule, however, life, the universe, and existence are a tad bit messier and defy simple and exhaustive mathematical explanations.

The phenomenon of consciousness attracts many attempts in this direction — to explain the mystery of what makes human consciousness ‘special’, with the somewhat curious presumption that it actually is.

Whether it is a hangover from doctrinal Christianity and the Church’s false teachings that humans were created by a separate process from the rest of the living kingdoms, or the hubris of humanistic scientists believing themselves to be superior to the rest of living kingdoms, this desire to separate humans from Nature, to set ourselves aside as special, is perhaps the root of our misunderstanding of consciousness, and the commonly-held belief that consciousness is a “hard problem.”

There may be a somewhat easy, painfully obvious, and simple (if inelegant) alternative framing for the question of consciousness. Perhaps there is no Consciousness with a capital “C” at all, but adapting layers of specific consciousness. Rather than talking about it as a unified phenomenon, we could describe it as a multiplicity in every instance.

If we were to always add the prepositional phrase “of what?” to the question of consciousness, it may become quite tractable. Mosquitos are conscious of infrared light through their biological sensors, whereas humans are not.

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