February 2009
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A framework

We have a framework for our conscious experiences. This framework is innate so we don’t have much choice about its nature.

There is three dimensional space in our consciousness. No one seems to live in a flat two dimensional world or a four dimensional one. We all seem to locate points in space using the coordinates up-down, left-right, and forward-backward. Physicists can tell us there are more than three dimensions (four or eleven or ten and a quarter); they can show the mathematical proofs, but no one can actually experience anything but three dimensions.

The organs that we use to trace orientation and acceleration are the semi-circular channels of the ears and there are three of them at 90 degrees to one another. This may be why we are incapable of any other number of dimensions.

There is an arrow of time in our consciousness. We seem to have a continuum of time that consists of the past and the future which are connected by a now. Our experiences are located along this continuum. Usually we see the continuum as similar to the forward-backward dimension of space. Depending on culture and situation, time either flows past us while we stand still or we move through time while it remains stationary.

Time is very important to the sequencing of actions, the notion of cause and effect, and the understanding of processes.

There are discrete objects in our consciousness. According to physics, things are not so self-contained and separate from other things as we experience them. We are attuned to edges, surfaces, complete shapes and what moves together as one. Our experience is filled with objects. Not just sight and touch give us objects – even hearing, in the blind, can give us a sense of the space we are in and at least some of the objects in that space. It is probable that we come into this world with some rough categories for objects. Faces, for example, are a special category of object.

I am sure there are other interesting aspects of an innate framework for our consciousness. The point I am trying to make here is that such a framework exists and it may or may not correspond to reality. But if it is not absolutely accurate, it was good enough to allow our fore-bearers to live successfully. 

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