Humans once assumed our planet was the physical center of the solar system, so it’s no surprise that we also think highly of consciousness, the apparently unique quality that allows our species to contemplate such matters.
But what is consciousness? The topic has been extraordinarily controversial in the scientific and philosophical traditions. Thinkers have spent an immense amount of time and ink trying to unravel mysteries, such as how consciousness works and where it resides.
The short answer isn’t very satisfying. Scientists and philosophers still can’t agree on a vague idea of what consciousness is, much less a strict definition. One reason for that is that the concept is used to mean slightly different things. Many experts agree, however, that conscious beings are aware of their surroundings, themselves and their own perception.