Quantitative Limits of Consciousness

A very brief consideration of the problem shows that it is not conceivably possible for any system to be totally conscious. Suppose that on the screen of consciousness there are reports from many parts of the total mind, and consider the addition to consciousness of those reports necessary to cover what is, at a given stage of evolution, not already covered. This addition will involve a very great increase in the circuit structure of the brain but still will not achieve total coverage. The next step will be to cover the processes and events occurring in the circuit structure which we have just added. And so on.

Clearly, the problem is insoluble, and every next step in the approach to total consciousness will involve a great in-crease in the circuitry required.

It follows that all organisms must be content with rather little consciousness, and that if consciousness has any useful functions whatever (which has never been demonstrated but is probably true), then economy in consciousness will be of the first importance. No organism can afford to be conscious of matters with which it could deal at unconscious levels.

This is the economy achieved by habit formation.

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