Neural Darwinism - is consciousness evolutionary?

Neural Darwinism - is consciousness evolutionary?

Darwin revolutionised our understanding of our place among living things. He proposed that we were here as an outcome of evolutionary forces and natural selection.

But do these same principles and forces apply to the way you think? To your consciousness itself?

Think of it this way. We evolved from primary living beings without much capacity to think to human beings that could think of the existence of God.

Surely some process got us here?

One theory proposed is natural selection. The concept of Neural Darwinism was first proposed by Engelman in 1978. His theory was that natural selection did not apply only at the species level but also at the level of our neurons.

So as species evolved over time, not only did we refine our capacity to walk, run, or see, we also evolved our ability to think. Natural selection helped us choose a neural circuit that created the ability to think. To be conscious.

Selectionism is characterised by a few elements. We have diversity, and we can amplify this diversity. Selection chooses the version of diversity that is best suited to survive. Those versions that do not make the cut are then discarded.

In programming terms, this is an endless if-then loop, except we are ruthlessly improving or dying. So it seems to be with our neural circuitry.

Higher consciousness arose to enable discrimination or diversity among species and allow us to survive.

From a purely evolutionary standpoint, this may be correct. Then you do have to ask—why would our consciousness then ask for a complete escape from the entire process itself?

Why would it seek salvation or an escape from the cycle of life and death?

Is the conscious state then aware of something we do not understand at the biological level? Is reproduction and survival not our only purpose? That, as higher-order beings, their purpose is to escape?

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