Toward a Biology Worthy of Life > From Physical Causes to Organisms of Meaning > Brief excerpt
A project by Stephen L. Talbott

From the unconscious to the conscious (2)

What is it, after all, that becomes conscious in the human being? All our growing knowledge of our own complex psychosomatic unity suggests that the inwardness at work in the formation and activity of the body, from the molecular level on up, is akin to — not radically other than — what comes to awareness of itself as psyche. The fact that our physical organism so directly and intimately reflects not only our explicit volitional commands, but also our inner, meaningful states (“I blushed because I saw a hint of suspicion in his eyes”) — while, conversely, our inner life is directly affected by our bodily state, as when we are sick or in pain — leaves little room for a radical separation of psychic meaning from the bodily (molecular) meaning we traced earlier.

Beginning with a molecular-level analysis of the simplest, single-celled organism extant today and proceeding through all the ever more complex creaturely orders, we see no sudden discontinuity in the play of meaning and inwardness — a play that progressively comes to a focus in the individuated centers of consciousness we know as our selves.

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