No. That’s not how it works in my tradition. Life is a fraud. The Greeks used to define life as possed by those things which moved by themselves. We now have many things which move by themselves, but are clearly not alive in an organic sense. And what do we make of viruses, which have attributes of organic and non-organic entities?

We may make a definition of life, more sophisticated than that of the Ancient Greeks, and check various things against our definition.

But we cannot do that with consciousness. I could program a computer to do all sorts of sophisticated things, such as conduct a conversation. If it passes the Turing test is it conscious? I have no way of knowing. I can ask it, and it might reply that yes, it is conscious, but I have no way of determining the truth.

I know that I am conscious. In much the same way that Descartes knew that he existed because he thought. But what of you? You are in the exact same position — I assume — but science cannot find any way of proving it. From my point of view, you might be no more than a clever organic thinking machine.

Life is of that nature. Clever organic molecules and flashes of neuro-electricity, and we could make this in a sophisticated enough atomic printer. Just pour in some enzymes to start the chemistry and lo, we have created life!

There is nothing magical or special. No life force.

Consciousness is not like that. We know it exists, but it is undetectable, without actually experiencing it.

I don’t think that this situation will endure. I think science will find some way to detect consciousness, but it will require a paradigm shift in understanding. Quantum science is probably the best direction of inquiry,

So, from my point of view, life and consciousness are not equivalent. One is a fraud, the other I know with deep certainty exists.


Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

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