Does It Make Sense to Trace Consciousness to Single-Celled Organisms?
Pp. 4-9 (6)
Paulo J. Negro
Popular theories of consciousness convey the notion that traces of
consciousness exist even below the level of single-celled organisms. Alternatively,
consciousness may emerge from the informational nature of life. Fundamental
processes that, when scaled up, might give origin to the “mind” must transit from
biological mechanisms to information. Portraying the subject-world dialectic of singlecelled
organisms as the first exchange that makes this transition possible does not
constitute a hypothesis, but a description. Qualia refer to subjective phenomena, and
not to something objectively present or to the human brain processes from which such
phenomena arise. Nonetheless, qualia can still provide tailored adaptive information
about reality from the perspective of the organism. One can reconcile this notion with
the illusory nature of qualia by recognizing a variable “Q”. This variable represents an
abstraction of the processes that transform evolutionarily relevant information into the
subject experience. Q represents adaptive inference processes that incorporate the state
and the causal architecture of the environment. These inference processes at some point
became human consciousness.
Adaptive Information, Active Inference, Consciousness in Single-
Celled Organisms, Conservative Natural History, Imaginary Numbers,
Informational Nature of Life, Membrane Excitability, Origin of Mind, Original
Awareness, Panpsychism, Qualia Fundamental Processes, Single-Celled
Organisms, Subject-World Dialectic, Traces of Consciousness, Variable Q.
Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.