Homeostasis is the key to consciousness.
In his latest book, Damasio strongly reaffirms the theory of consciousness set out in Self comes to mind. But he now extends the theory both backwards and forwards to encompass the whole of life as we know it. He relates the emergence of the ingredients of consciousness back to life regulation, to homeostasis itself. And he takes the story forwards too, describing how consciousness led on to culture, again driven by the compulsion of homeostasis. Homeostasis is not enough on its own to account for consciousness. A nervous system is needed as well. But that throws the net of consciousness over a huge number of species, all vertebrates and some invertebrates. On this analysis, social insects such as ants and bees possess consciousness and culture. The gap between those in Damasio’s camp and those who believe consciousness belongs only to humans remains as wide as that between Brexiteers and Remainers.
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