Why do living organisms experience consciousness? I hypothesize that living beings acquired consciousness because it was the only way they could learn about what is good and what is bad for their concerns.

Organisms have **concerns** like staying alive, stay well-nourished, stay healthy, reproduce, etc.

Consciousness as I use it here is the **mental experience of information**: seeing, smelling, touching, feeling. Not the physical aspect of neurons firing, but the mental aspect of experiencing.

Learning always requires feedback. This feedback can come from an external source, a teacher, or from yourself, as you set a goal to mimic someone or something else.

### Experience

But how do you learn that sprouts taste awful? Or that being yelled at hurts? Or that a painting by Picasso is strange. Of course someone may tell you about it, and you may copy that opinion. But what if copying someone else's opinion is not good enough. And that it's better to find out for yourself.

In these cases you learn by trying. You learn from **experience**.

Can this learning be done by mental processes alone? Is the firing of neurons, the strengthening of the axons, or a bit higher up: the creation of a neural representation, is that enough to learn about the taste of pepper, the smell of poop, or the bewilderment caused by an Escher painting?

It isn't. What's missing is the judgement. Of good and bad, of awful and sweet. Of interest and boredom. This judgement is not in the representation. And it is not induced from its representation. The judgement is in the **experience** of the representation.

Smell a rotten egg. Certain chemicals enter the nose. The nose fires certain neurons. Certain areas in the cortex are activated. The amygdala is involved. Neural patterns are formed. **So what? **Why would instinctively cause you to retract? It doesn't. Not unless experience is involved. And no matter the kind of representation, it is no substitute for experience.

This experience is important. It connects your sensory input to your inner concerns. It teaches you what is good for you and what is bad for you.

### Dualism

But if experience is different from a neuronal representation, what is it? I have to admit that my idea of this is not far from the view that Descartes described, 400 years ago. Dualism, formed from a neuronal mind / body on the one hand, and an experiencing psyche on the other hand. Experience (consciousness) is a different substance than matter.

For this hypothesis to work, the neural mind must influence the conscious substance. The idea that comes to mind is the way electricity influences magnetism, and vice versa: two different substances that turn out to be part of the same continuum. In this case matter and consciousness would both be part of a matter-consciousness universe.

This diagram attempts to show how mind and consciousness interact. Mind creates a representation. Certain representations cause a change in consciousness. In order for this experience to be functional, it needs to be noticed by the mind again. There needs to be perception of the conscious experience.

### Necessity

But why is this *necessary*? Can't experience be emulated? It can be faked, for sure. But it can't be emulated, because experience is what it's all about. Experience *drives* existence. You would not buy a painting unless it was beautiful. You would not eat all that potato chips unless it tasted so damn good. Experience is the messenger of the deep concerns that makes each of us a living being.

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