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When we read the theories of consciousness, they usually state that a thing either has consciousness or does not have consciousness. Is there a reason why consciousness cannot be thought to be a spectrum? For example, I have more consciousness than a computer. (Implying that a computer has consciousness, just that it has less than I do.) Rather than I have consciousness, a computer does not.

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    $\begingroup$ It might be a good idea to add references to your sources, as I'm not sure that on/off is really the common view on consciousness. For example, IIT uses an index (I guess that could be thought of as a spectrum), and panpsychism would refer to "kinds" of consciousness rather than degrees. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Aug 19 '15 at 7:53
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    $\begingroup$ And I think, at least as little as my knowledge reaches into the topic, that "consciousness" is not a well-defined term. Given the tag description: "For questions that have to do with a sense of being awake and aware in the literal sense, but also those having to do with the nature of the mind and the formation of the individual", it is at the very least very broadly defined. Before this question can be reasonably answered "consciousness" has to be more strictly defined within the scope of this question, to prevent endless discussions on questions and answers. Please correct me if I am off. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Aug 19 '15 at 10:31
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On/off is indeed not the commonest view of consciousness. In Hindu philosophical circles, consciousness is thought of as continuous across living systems. Humans have 'budding'consciousness, (plus free will), animals 'shuttered' and plants 'covered'consciousness, and these are points along a continuum. (Reference example: Hinduism and Science, by T D Singh; a paper in “Science and Religion: Global Perspectives”, June 4-8, 2005, in Philadelphia, PA, USA, a program of the Metanexus Institute).

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  • $\begingroup$ Could you elaborate on what you mean with shuttered consciousness? I understand your use of budding and covered consciousness, but shuttered puzzles me. Thanks. $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '15 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ It puzzles me too! We are talking here not about scientific concepts but ideas taken from the non-scientific but very interesting depths of the Rig Veda writings, millenia old. They are essentially metaphors, although T D Singh does describe his own interpretation of them. 'Covered' as you know includes simple plant perceptions and reactions, 'Shuttered' (as in animals) does seem to include some basic cognitive processes akin to decision making, but not self-awareness. This may be useful in helping us to think what the stages of consciousness may be, or perhaps it is just poetry. $\endgroup$ Sep 1 '15 at 11:52

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