DOI: 10.14704/nq.2006.4.4.111

Adaptive Behavior and Consciousness

Richard Allen Sieb


Consciousness has resisted scientific explanation for centuries. The main problem in explaining consciousness is accounting for its subjectivity. Subjectivity is an internal point of view or perspective (context) developed from current sensory input and previous experience (perception). Subjective systems may be adaptive; that is, able to respond to change. Humans have the ability to produce voluntary new or novel intentional (adaptive) action and such production is very important for survival. This action is always composed through the choice or free will of the person (voluntary), is always new or novel, and is always directed towards some goal (intentional). Adaptive action is always composed according to the subject‘s point of view or perspective at the moment and is always accompanied by consciousness. Hence the two may be the same. Adaptive action normally arises from perception. Perception directly produces basic programmed action. In order to produce adaptive action, perception must be represented in a new way, so that it becomes explicit, functional, and conscious. This new representation may be accomplished through operation of a positive feedback nonlinear emergent mechanism which is responsible for the generation of a large number of natural phenomena. This mechanism results in the production of explicit stable states from perception which has all the same properties as consciousness and hence may be identical to consciousness. These states are a type of active short term memory and have the ability to produce various types of adaptive action. Consciousness is shown to be natural, material, and functional; utilized in the production of adaptive action.


consciousness, subjective, point of view, voluntary, intentional, nonlinear, emergent

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