To me, consciousness is 'the' great mystery of life. How is it possible for me to be aware of myself, to have memories, to learn and refine skills, to have opinions gleaned from knowledge, to have passions and prejudices. My personal consciousness, like every human person's consciousness, is tangible and highly individual in its manifestation.
Traditional neuroscience has no answer for this question. The assumption has always been that everything that defines each of us as a separate individual resides in the brain. Somehow, it is assumed, there are physical structures in our brains in which our memories and our intellect reside. The problem is no one has been able to identify any such structures. Neuroscientists at universities around the world have focused on the consciousness problem for many decades. They have employed the most sophisticated tools to study the human brain, to image it down to the individual neuronal cell structure. What they have identified are locations in the brain and processes in the brain that are linked to various somatic and autonomic life processes. On that level, the brain is well understood. But consciousness... still a complete mystery, despite a massive effort by researchers to locate it in the brain, and to understand it.
The great British scientist and philosopher, J.S.B. Haldane (1892-1964) once said "Life is not only stranger than we know, but stranger than we can know." When he said that, he could easily have been talking about consciousness.
The celebrated physician and neuroscientist, Robert Lanza, and biologist, Rupert Sheldrake each have come up with very interesting ideas related to the nature of consciousness. I have written several blogs about their work.
I pulled the article below from The Guardian webpage.
Why Can't the World's Greatest Minds Solve the Mystery of Consciousness?
By Oliver Burkeman (1/21/2015)