We know that we have developed an incredibly advanced technology that aids in making us more aware of the world than before. But do we know anything about the entity that generates this ‘awareness’. Are we truly more aware of the surroundings? Are technology and awareness the same?
Living and Nonliving Things
Before answering this, we must know what awareness is. Awareness is a topic long discussed by scientists, philosophers, mythologists and psychologists. Psychologists though do not study, what causes awareness but the things that awareness causes. Philosophers and mythologists explain it with a soul like entity that lives in a body and drives the body with senses and actions. While the scientists explain it with life in body made up of hydrocarbon molecules arranged as DNA, genes, cells, tissues, bones, muscles, organs and ultimately a body.
For example, we observe a rock lying on a hill. An earthquake or the earth’s movement makes the rock roll down. It may encounter some chemicals that can change its composition. At the same time, a glacier sitting on a mountain may melt because of heat. Water flows down depending on the topology of the area, possibly to a sea or an ocean. The flow of the water depends on factors like gravitational forces of earth, moon and the planets. Finally, a rabbit in a field hops towards grass to eat it or sees a flying eagle and runs into its burrow. We can easily say that the rock and the water are nonliving. While the rabbit has awareness of the situation.
The Unique Property of Learning
How do we conclude this? We can say that the nonliving things are driven in very simple patterns, based on the physical forces. While living beings perform very complex actions based on perception and learning. This is studied by biologists and scientists as a result of awareness. They conclude that a body must be able to perceive the surrounding and its changes through senses and be able to respond to it. This answers why a body even made up of life like compositions, if does not perform complex responses is not alive. But the question that remains is that there are many things that perform very complex actions but are not considered alive.
This can be explained by the property of awareness called learning. If we place a rabbit in a non-changing surrounding, it still will change its behavior with time. But if we take a sample of air, even after a hundred years, it will behave exactly the same. But there is a flaw in this explanation. Is the rabbit really in a closed system? Though we can make the surrounding non-changing, the structural integrity of the rabbit is continuously changing. In fact, we cannot design a closed system around a living being and yet, keep it alive. The fact is that while the atoms and the molecules in the sample of air have attained an equilibrium that is not broken until forced from outside; The system of living things is in a high level of instability. This property of life is still a mystery to the scientists. There is no answer to what is it that gives or takes away the quantity of life from a body. Or that everything is alike, and the only difference being that life is too complex to be understood by itself.
Intersection of Mythology and Science
The philosophers and the mythologists do not study awareness as a result of stimulus and response but awareness itself, the cause of stimulus and response. What scientists call life, is soul for philosophers and mythologists. They believe that a soul is first aware of itself and then the surroundings. This is the reason why life evolves through learning while the universe still reacts in the same way as it did a billion years ago. None of these two theories give an exact description of awareness but an intersection of the two satisfies us in a way. The fact is that Life is the summit of the evolutionary universe. It behaves like the unstable subatomic particles created while particle collision, emitting and absorbing other particles, until they achieve a stable state.
Awareness in Living Beings
Philosophers study further about the soul and question that whether it is a measurable quantity or that it is same in every living body. There are several ways in which awareness causes a body to behave.
For example, a snake depends on the thermal signature and perceives a rat. While a human sees the physical body of the rat. If we place a heated rock of the same size, a snake can be confused and mistake the rock with a rat. But a human will still recognize the rock. The reason being a thermal scan depends only on the factor of temperature gradient, but vision depends on four factors of size, shape, color and texture. Does that mean a type of sense makes a being more aware? I think it is safe to say yes. Although I am not challenging vision against thermal recognition. Because if a rat is hidden in a bush, a snake will be at advantage. But it is definite that more senses will make a being more aware.
On a separate thought, can we say that the snake is aware that a rat is alive? We as human beings study things based on living and nonliving and react likewise. But if we throw a stick towards a snake, to defend, it will bite the stick; Unknown to the fact that its poison will not affect the stick which again questions the ability of the snake to be aware.
A dummy with lioness scent was placed to attract some lions. The lions mistook it and came; Before ultimately recognizing the fake model. The interesting thing is that it took several minutes before the lions knew that the lioness was unreal. Normally it would take just a glance for a human being to know the difference; And both lions and human beings depend on the sense of sight.
We can answer this puzzle with a unique property of human beings, talked about every single time we compare ourselves to other living beings; our brain and our intellect. We as humans can recognize very minute patterns of an object or change. We do it by looking at the details of face, body, eyes, etc. and the movement of head, tail etc. This all is credited to the intelligence of the human brain. So, this must mean that intelligence too is a sense. In advanced psychology, we are considering the possibility of more than five senses in our body; And intelligence aids to the awareness of a body. Thus, human beings are far more aware than any other being on the planet. So, it is not that a snake or a lion is not aware, but it is less aware.
Technology helps us in developing our intelligence and so it will be true to say that technology makes us more aware. But this would also mean that everybody varies in awareness and we ultimately question the idea of every soul being alike, supported by nearly all the religions. Hindu religion though answers to this myth by saying that the soul is not awareness. It explains that soul resides in a body made of awareness driving the eight senses of sound, sight, taste, touch, smell, mind, intelligence and ego. The real thought he is that while we have developed so much technology that aids in making us aware of our surroundings but the only technology that made us aware of our own life is the Cresco graph invented by Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose. Isn’t this a topic to think about?