On The Seat Of Consciousness

The present paper [by P.K. Mukhopadhyay] is based on the materials presented in the seminars on ‘Mind and Consciousness’ organised by IIT Kharagpur under the auspices of IIAS and ‘Consciousness: A Deeper Scientific Search’ organized by The Rama Krishna Mission Institute of Culture’, Kolkata.


Different ages of human history are marked by the emergence of new major areas of intellectual enterprise. If Ionian thinkers started with the study of Nature and Socrates turned man’s attention to the study of man and morals then the middle age saw the emergence of theology or the study of the Theos or God. While modern age of human history began with the rediscovery of the Ionian theme and is known as the age of science or study of nature, contemporary age has witnessed the emergence of yet another area called cybernatics or the study of machines. The word science would be understood in the sense in which it is usually taken when used without any qualification. When I say about this science that it was born blind I do not mean to utter an oxymoron for some intended literary effect. It was a blind science because during its early period it preferred to remain blind to the consequences of a distinction of which it was fully aware and this is the distinction between matter and mind (and its cognates like the material and the mental or the physical and the psychical). True to its Greek legacy science was not meant to discuss mind and, contrary to the same Greek legacy, however, it was not to discuss the origin of motion. Anyway, between the birth of science and till very recently we were used to the distinction between matter and mind on the one hand and between science of matter and phenomenology of mind on the other. Starting in a low key with the emergence of experimental psychology, this science, grown very confident after many spectacular successes, has come back aggressively to conquer the area of the mental from which it kept itself self exiled for a long time. And now we hear not only of cognitive science but also of cognitive engineering. It is however simultaneously felt by many that science is still not capable of answering the hard question of Consciousness Studies.

The second point to note is that it is very difficult to articulate fully and clearly the sense of the word consciousness, which is being used ambiguously. And this stands very much in the way of a clearer understanding and successful exchange in interdisciplinary dialogue. What a neuro-scientist or a brain surgeon means by consciousness is not what host of others – say, a Samkhya or Yoga philosopher, or a practicing rajayogin or an individual like Sri Aurobindo – mean by it. But it is the former that is easier to make sense of for one who is born and bred exclusively or mainly in scientific culture. The reason is that the other sense of consciousness presupposes a distinction that is not as familiar in scientific culture as, we are often made to believe, in classical Indian culture. This other distinction, in addition to the familiar distinction between matter and mind, is between mind and spirit or between the psychical and the spiritual. This is not only a different distinction but is also believed to be a higher and deeper distinction.

The word deeper in this context does not seem to mean what the word means in the context of scientific search. Our deeper scientific search in the field of consciousness with the help of newly discovered and improved techniques and technologies is expected to bring into light more and more distinctions and increasingly finer correspondences with, say, the functioning of the brain. But when a practitioner of spirituality dives deeper and deeper in his meditation he progressively discovers layers of consciousness with lesser and lesser distinctions. Lesser activity of the brain may be found to correspond to more intense spiritual awakening.
Consciousness in the context of this second distinction is still now widely believed to be a realm of the mystic. For a mystic the goal is to arrive at a consciousness that is supra-conceptual – where conceptual distinctions are all merged into a seamless transcendental consciousness that is in addition supra-relational, un-owned or impersonal and unitary. It is believed that in the tradition of mysticism – which has a far longer history than the scientific tradition – many have already experienced or rather reached this consciousness. So in one of the senses of it the deeper search of consciousness is already complete. What we can do best is to collect, second hand, some data, which some of the mystics have obtained first hand through their introspective or still deeper methodology; and use them for setting a few targets for the scientists to achieve. One such target is to discover, using their own methodology and third person approach, this seamless consciousness. Another is to improve upon, if the need is felt, the definition of consciousness or to redefine the word consciousness in their literature. When some of us proposed during the seminar on consciousness organised by The Rama Krishna Mission Institute of Culture in 2002 that we should associate and communicate with some genuine and committed practitioners of spirituality we, at least I, envisaged that it would be possible, through using relevant data obtained by using different methods and comparing and correlating them, to formulate, some more concrete programme and questions. I propose to discuss below one such question.

Between the mystics and the scientists there are philosophers. Many philosophical traditions are as old as mystic traditions and much older than the history of scientific study of consciousness. So it is quite natural that the scientists who find it necessary to understand consciousness that is implicated in the very procedure of today’s science, say, should turn to philosophical traditions for the purpose. But in spite of the fact these two old traditions of the mystics and the philosophers are distinct many have a tendency to confuse between philosopher’s search and doctrine of consciousness and those of the mystics. For example not only the spiritual practices prevalent in the traditions of Yoga, Advaita Vedanta and Bauddha but also the corresponding doctrines of consciousness are referred to as mysticism. One reason for referring to a system as mysticism in the context of the phenomenon of consciousness is that in it a distinction is (or is believed to be) drawn between the psychical and the spiritual and that it is held that the spiritual consciousness is the transcendental, impersonal and un-owned consciousness. It is to be noted that even with their improved techniques science cannot reach this deeper consciousness nor can it clearly understand it. Therefore even deeper scientific search can hardly take us to the deeper consciousness, that is, the transcendental and spiritual consciousness as distinct from the psychical consciousness. It would be a useless pastime to guess whether or not in near or far off future that too would be possible for science to do. For it is feared that the very concept of science would be radically changed in the process. So if by deeper scientific search of consciousness we mean search of spiritual consciousness with the improved techniques etc. of science and from the interdisciplinary scientific approach then that does not seem to be possible. What however many scientists seem to be confident about is that they can scientifically study what is called psychic consciousness; it is believed that, without getting lost in the long debated issue of reductionism we can, with improved techniques investigate into many minute correspondences between neural functions and psychical conscious states. Such subtler brain states as well as the correspondences in question are hard data of scientific investigation and hence cannot be denied.
One task that remains to be done is to study critically the implications of these new discoveries. Do they imply either that the physical is the cause of the mental? Do they further imply that it would be a worthwhile scientific task to study whether along the same line we can find the physical to be caused by the mental? Further, do the recent scientific findings amount to establishing that the brain is the seat of consciousness? Besides raising and discussing such questions which arise because of the progress of individual sciences in recent times in the field of the study of consciousness and data collected in course of collective scientific study in the matter we can do another thing. We can make it possible to open a meaningful exchange between philosophers, who have earned lot of expertise in handling the phenomenon of consciousness during their very long tradition of search of consciousness, and recent scientists who are initiators of a new scientific tradition of consciousness study. For that we need to be able to formulate some concrete questions and problems or concretize some questions that are being asked for a long time in somewhat vague generality. We can illustrate both these with the example of philosophy of Nyaya if we care to reconstruct the relevant views of the Nyaya philosophy – its formulation of and response to the relevant questions.

One should not hastily think that the reason why it seems easier to establish collaboration between scientific tradition and the tradition of Nyaya philosophy is that Nyaya admits a distinction between the psychic and the spiritual or that it admits a spiritual consciousness over and above the psychical consciousness. For contrary to popular belief and understanding philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta or related practices have nothing mystical about them. These philosophies also do not admit a spiritual consciousness over and above a psychical consciousness in the sense of admitting that there are two sorts of consciousness each of which is distinct from the material.


Philosophy, unlike science, has been studying the phenomenon of consciousness for a very long time. History of different cultures will testify to the truth of this remark. But only in recent times empirical investigations conducted in Neurosciences have now established detailed correspondences between consciousness and the workings of the brain. This encourages one to think that the brain may be the seat of consciousness; and this in its turn tends to make one sanguine that a scientific understanding of consciousness (as distinct from the widely shared “understanding” which is hardly anything more than folk psychology) may be attained now. But it is interesting to note that people are still not ready to say that the identified brain processes are the causes of the corresponding states of consciousness. There arises the question, “Is there anything between the cause and the correlate?” or “What more than regular correlation with the effect is there in a cause?"

The Nyaya school of Indian philosophy has been advocating for a long time a certain theory of ‘mind’ and consciousness in which the Naiyayika-s used three interrelated but distinct notions of cause (karana) seat (asraya) and ayatana. This ayatana in relation to consciousness is body. While they thus talk of body they do not talk much about brain (or mastiska, say). On the other hand they postulate another entity manas or ‘mind’ as distinct from both ‘Mind’ (or soul) and brain. Their view may be construed as bearing the suggestion that body including brain does have a close correlation with consciousness. But such a correlation shows at most that the body or the brain is the ayatana of consciousness but not the seat or the cause of it.
This way of constructing the Nyaya view in the matter can serve two purposes at the same time. It can enable us to incorporate in the classical Nyaya account of consciousness the role, which, according to recent scientific findings, brain matter plays in the appearance of consciousness. On the other hand it can enable us to accept the recent scientific discoveries without thereby committing us to the view that brain is the seat of consciousness - a view, which tends to lend strong support to physicalistic reduction. It may be possible to say then that at least in some cases we find that correlate is not the cause (karana) of the phenomenon in question but its ayatana. This in its turn may enable us to accommodate most of the major points in the different standard theories of consciousness within a non-reductionistic realistic framework.


Thinkers who are engaged in the consciousness studies today include both scholars belonging to the same culture but different intellectual disciplines and scholars from ‘same’ discipline but belonging to different cultures. Objections are often raised against culture-based distinctions of intellectual disciplines. But one can hardly avoid it without sacrificing objectivity and honesty when one notes that certain problems, which are almost inseparably connected with certain cultures (at least in certain phases of it), are conspicuous by their absence in certain other cultures. Sometimes such absences turn out to be very instructive. Keeping this in mind and having noted that certain contemporary problems about consciousness did not bother them, I propose to present certain relevant views of some Indian philosophers of classical period as a response to the same issue being hotly debated today in the West and in fact everywhere.
One of the likely reasons why in the recorded history of Indian (philosophical) thought there is no evidence of any great awareness of what is known as mind-body problem is that in India there have been a good number of confirmed spiritual monists and confirmed dualists but there have not been many equally confirmed and equally strong (I mean in intellectual acumen and conviction) material monists.

Be that as it may, Indian thought2 has so far contributed (almost) nothing3 to the detection of many interrelated problems about consciousness including the question about the seat of consciousness (as well as many attempted solutions of these problems) that we discuss today. Both the problems and their (tentative) solutions belong to modern scientific culture, or, more particularly, to certain recent developments in different branches of science and technology of that culture. But this may be a sign of strength or intellectual maturity of Indian systems of thought, some in built measures of which did not perhaps leave any scope for such problems to arise. If this is true then a study of the classical Indian thought in the matter can shed some light on the current controversies about consciousness. Again if this actually turns out to be the case then what is still now a guess will become a confirmed truth. The reason why it is not already known whether it is only wishful thinking or actual truth is that we do not know classical Indian thought as much as we know modern Western thought including modern science and philosophy.

2 I mean, ‘classical Indian thought’ almost for the same reason for which Professor Gopinath Bhattacharya said “Strictly speaking, in the field of analytic thinking or in outlook, there is hardly much that is ‘modern’ and Indian at the same time”. See his Essays in Analytical Philosophy, Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, Calcutta, 1989, p.141 3 This is not to deny that though Indian philosophers did not raise this question yet certain implications of their theory of consciousness, developed independently of any explicit awareness of this problem, may have bearing on the better understanding and solution of it as it is raised and discussed today.

How can we explain why Indian thinkers did not entertain the question “How all the properties and functions we associate with mind might be explained in purely mechanical terms?" We think that some of them at least formulated and defended dualism so successfully that there was no scope for such questions to be raised. But why did they not show any interest in the question regarding the relation between brain and consciousness or why did they not ask what was the seat of consciousness? It is well documented that ancient and medieval Indian scholars had deep and detailed knowledge of human biology and anatomy and probably also of physiology4
There is another problem also. In matters of detail, contemporary scientists have enormously more and more advanced knowledge than the Indians of the classical period. With newer and newer techniques and technologies, they know so much more about the structure and functions of the brain, which, we have no good reason to deny, accompany various conscious operations. And yet many of them prefer to say no more than that they now know minute details about correspondences between specific functions of the brain – activation of particular regions of brain matter – and correlated states of consciousness. One wonders why they keep such a low profile and do not make the stronger and bolder claim that they now know what causes consciousness or what is the seat of consciousness. Such a definite answer would have by now set at rest the doubt whether science could know consciousness or whether a scientific causal explanation of consciousness is possible. That they are professionally cautious and they feel the need to be doubly so, in view of the fact that in the past claims made too early turned out to be false, is not the whole explanation. It seems to us that these scientists are aware that still something is missing. There is need for suitable theories of causality, matter and consciousness, which can enable them to assert causal relation between correlated states and functions of the brain on the one hand and consciousness or conscious states on the other. But such a theories are just what is not available in the modern scientific culture. However, scholars of different schools of thought in India developed, or at any rate, used to subscribe to such theory. The Nyaya-Vaisesika school can claim the credit of having developed a philosophical theory of the sort, which is needed. In what follows I will present or reconstruct some relevant aspects of their theory of consciousness or part thereof. I will present them in the form of response to certain current thoughts and debates regarding the nature, location etc. of consciousness.

4 See P. Bhargav and C. Chakravarti. For their knowledge in other branches of science see C.K. Majumdar.


Two of the greatest and interrelated foundational innovations, which marked the beginning of the modern scientific age of European history, are (i) the conception of science as autonomous and independent of Greek metaphysics and (ii) the introduction of Cartesian dualism. These taken together made it possible to have a truly empirical (scientific) study of material nature in isolation from the phenomenon of mind and hence from all moral, and spiritual concerns of life.
Philosophers and men of great acumen had no difficulty in detecting that the fall out of Cartesian dualism was skepticism or doubt about the possibility of science or success of scientific enterprise. This came to be known in philosophical literature as one of the modern forms of skepticism, namely the skepticism about external world. The working scientists did not give any importance to this skepticism and remained unaffected by it and they eventually achieved phenomenal success in their field. As a result, there evolved a new ideology called scientism, which contends overtly or covertly that science is the whole of human knowledge.5 It was soon converted to mean that if there is anything, any x, capable of being known and worth knowing then science could know it in principle. Some practical difficulty such as lack of necessary equipments or experimental facilities could delay the growth of science of x but that only shows the practical limitation of science; there is no theoretical limitation. A sort of hope was already there that science of consciousness was possible. New developments in biology, neurosciences and computer engineering brought great anticipations. With tremendous courage science turned its attention to consciousness. And a new urgency for scientific understanding of consciousness was felt when new developments in physics brought out clearly that consciousness was implicated in the very procedure of science – a fact that may appear to be a sort of irony. For science wanted to study nature in isolation and without any reference to intentional phenomena.
Cartesian dualism was introduced with the emphatic reaffirmation and demonstration of the Socratic theme that existence of consciousness was primal certainty. Even independent of it no man ever doubted the phenomenon of consciousness or his own existence. And philosophers of different cultures have been studying this phenomenon from long past, so much so that a number of major alternative theories are already there. And if still scientists are almost at a loss to understand consciousness then they must be seeking a different type of understanding or are trying to understand the phenomenon in question in some other sense. As ordinary men or in the ordinary sense, they themselves are aware that consciousness is and has always been there. It is also known that no science could begin unless there are experienced data to theorize about and that scientific enterprise ends with the sought for understanding of the phenomenon being studied. What is lacking, however, is scientific intelligibility. Given this fact and the hope and confidence we discussed above, it is but quite natural why there should be today so much discussion on or about consciousness – about its nature, genesis, seat etc. We will be concerned here with the question of the seat of consciousness only.
Any rigorous discussion of a certain phenomenon should ideally start with a definition or precise description of it. And the problem starts right from here. Sometimes consciousness is equated with some of the behaviour we associate with it as its manifestation. Consciousness accompanies such intelligent behaviour as calculating, editing, processing etc.; and in this they are considered to be different from such other processes as, say, eruption of volcano, photosynthesis in plants or even growth and decay of cells in a living human body. What is this consciousness that accompanies those processes inside a human organism, which do not ‘go in the dark’? We will not attempt here to deal with the questions of definition and nature of consciousness separately. Our discussion of the question of location of consciousness will shed some light on this question as well.

5 Putnam, H., Mathematics, Matter and Method : Philosophical Papers, Volume I, Cambridge university Press 1975/79, Introduction, p.xiii

Where does consciousness reside? If consciousness is, it must be somewhere and further every one is aware that it is inside oneself. And if it is inside the body enough experimental evidences are there to suggest that the seat of consciousness is the brain.
We also need to discuss if and how the following two questions are related: 'Is brain the seat of consciousness?' and 'Do brain processes cause consciousness?' Scientists are hesitant to return an affirmative answer to the second question and Indian philosophers of the classical time were not in a position to offer either an affirmative or a negative answer to it for relevant experimental data or evidences, which are available today, were unknown in their time. So it may be urged that there is no scope for a response to a modern thesis or controversy regarding the location of consciousness from the point of view of early Indian philosophers in general or the Naiyayika-s in particular. It may be said in reply that the very fact that the Naiyayika-s could develop a complete theory of consciousness without facing at any stage or, at least, leaving as unresolved the problem of its location, may as well suggest that there is some way to avoid this problem or answer it satisfactorily. One such way is critical philosophical examination and analysis.


It may be said that in their own way the Naiyayika-s also considered the question about the location of consciousness. They believed that consciousness did not exist in the external world or in space. But they could not say where inside the body consciousness existed. Let us consider the relevant part of the Nyaya theory of consciousness.6 It cannot be doubted that consciousness is and we believe and speak accordingly. And if consciousness is, it must be somewhere. To say something is nowhere is another way of saying that it is not. In other words the question of location is supported by common sense experience and usages. A Naiyayika would however insist on the need for examining the sort of usage ‘x is’. Sometimes the expression “is” is short for “is in...” or “is on...” and the like. If some one says “Bring me the story book, it is ”then we take the utterance to be incomplete and is waiting to be completed by additional words like “on the table”. But sometimes the expression “is” has no such implication; and the expression “x is” may very well be a complete utterance. In such contexts “is” is replaceable by “exists” or “real”. It is in this sense of “is” that a theist would assert, “God is”. It may not be said that to be or to be real a thing must exist in space or time; so we cannot say that in such usages the word “is” bears implication regarding location. For when we assert, “Space is” or “Time is” there is no such implication that space or time is in space or time. Further things like tables and chairs are said to be both in space and in time. How can that be unless space is in time or time is in space? Thus, there are uses of it where “is” does not imply location. Examples of such usages are “Space is” Time is” “ghatah san” etc. To say “Consciousness is” is not to imply necessarily that it has in any ordinary sense at least, a location. In this sense something which exists everywhere or does not have a specific location is not located at all. So it is said that infinite substances do not have location, they are ever non-located or are not dharma or adheya.

6 We present here a brief and faithful reconstruction of Nyaya view of consciousness or some aspects of it.

There are, however usages which necessarily imply location. If instead of saying “x is” we say “x inheres” then one can legitimately ask on every such occasion “Inheres, where?” or “Where does it inhere?” Thus unlike the utterance “x is” the utterance “x inheres” is necessarily incomplete and is to be completed by adding name of things or places where x is or can be located. The incomplete utterance, say, “colour red inheres...” is turned into a complete utterance by adding the words, say, “in the (red) rose”. So far as consciousness in concerned the Naiyayika-s say both that “consciousness is” (“jnanam asti”) like “time is” (kalo asti) and that “consciousness inheres” (samavetam jnanam).
One may say at this point that unlike Vedantin-s, Naiyayika-s, are committed to holding that consciousness has location. And if further they do not say specifically that it is located in the brain, then they have left their theory incomplete. If, on the other hand, they say that consciousness is located in inside the body in a place other than the brain then they have evidently propounded a wrong theory.
Let us first ask what connects the belief ‘consciousness is located somewhere’ to the belief ‘it is located inside one’s body’. It is the other belief that consciousness is something which is not external. One popular way of explaining what it means to say that something is external or the usual way of distinguishing something that is external from what is not external is to say that what is outside one’s body is external and what is inside one’s body is internal. But this makes externality and internality relative. Besides it accords same status to an organ like heart or lung and experience like perception or memory. But one’s internal organ is not internal in the same sense of the term in which one’s states of thinking and feeling are internal.
Another way of explaining the matter is there. What is not external is not in space; it is only in time (provided of course it is real). Spatiality is the criterion of externality and exclusive temporality is the criterion of internality. Now we can say that even inside one’s body there are both external things like the organ of heart or stomach and internal phenomenon like thoughts and feelings. This however reaffirms, but does not explain, the position that consciousness is an internal phenomenon. The Nyaya way of distinguishing these two sorts of phenomena is far more satisfactory. For we find here an independent criterion and a sense of external, and at the same time, a way of avoiding the type of problems noted above. According to a Naiyayika a thing is external if it is an object of external perception or is the ‘seat’ of something that is externally perceived (perceivable). This second clause takes care of those external things that are themselves imperceptible either conditionally or in principle. When can we say of a thing that it is internal? Well, that which is not external is internal. But what are we supposed to understand by external perception or what does it mean for a thing to be perceived externally? Well it means perceived through one or more of the following five (external) sense organs: vision, taste, touch, hearing, and smell.7

7 Why any one or more of these sense organs does not perceive internal phenomena? We must have some independent criterion to decide which objects are perceived by these five sense organs and which are not. And the Naiyayika-s have such a criterion.

One important thing to note is that what is internal in this sense can without contradiction be said to have spatial dimension. We can and do say that pain is in my right leg or in the canine tooth and the like. We can also say that the internal spiritual substance of soul is infinite and as such stands distinguished from various kinds of things the magnitude of which is admittedly finite. Things like tables and chairs on the one hand and physical ‘atoms’ (paramanu of any one of the first four elements i.e., bhuta) on the other are examples of finite substance.
Naiyayika are well aware of the fact that the popular view is that our conscious states exist inside our body. Further, they make reference to body (sarira) in their theory of consciousness. But they do so not to explain the fact that consciousness is felt as, or is believed to be somehow, within us or that it is internal. For them consciousness is internal because it is located in a substance that is internal. Since its locus substance is internal or is devoid of any property that can be perceived through external sense organ or organs, consciousness must also be internal. Consciousness could not have been strictly speaking an internal phenomenon if it were located just inside the body, say in the brain. So even if Naiyayika-s had a detailed knowledge of the functioning of the brain and the way various functions of the brain are correlated with conscious states, they would not have located consciousness in the brain. For that would have violated the evidences of common sense experience and usage which uniformly show that consciousness is an internal phenomenon. Of course ordinary men have no refined criterion of ‘being internal’ which could organize consistently all the experiences and usages. It is the task of philosophy to provide such a criterion, and the philosophy of Nyaya performed the task admirably. Even though, as a matter of fact, Naiyayika-s of classical age lacked very advanced knowledge of the structure and functions of the brain that should not be construed to be the reason why they did not say that brain was the seat of consciousness.


Consciousness is an internal phenomenon and it has its location. These leave many questions unanswered. Where is it located? If it is perceived how does it get perceived? Many such questions are to be answered still.
Let us continue with the theme of location. The talk about location is somewhat metaphorical. Can we unpack this metaphor? In the first place to say consciousness is located in x is to say x has consciousness or that x possesses consciousness. The implication is that we are talking about consciousness as owned or possessed by some one or something. Transcendental consciousness of the Vedantin is unowned consciousness. The Naiyayika-s do not admit such a consciousness. They do make a distinction between two varieties of owned consciousness: owned consciousness which is eternal and hence uncaused, and owned consciousness that is caused and non-eternal. But they are strong supporters of ownership theory of consciousness. Be that as it may, when we say that consciousness is located we obviously hint at some relation between consciousness and where or in which it is located (or in this case, its owner). But the point to note is that to say about an F, that it is located, is not simply to say that it is somehow related to something. We find that there is some relation between consciousness and things like tables and chairs. But certainly consciousness on that account cannot be said to be located in these things. There is a distinction between mere relatedness (sambadhatva) and being located (asritatva). Located-location relation (adhara-adheya-bhava-sambandha) is a stronger tie than, say, the relation of mere juxtaposition. There are about four relations which can tie things as locus-located. Among these, conjunction (samyoga) and inherence (samavaya) are two. And here we will confine ourselves to these two only. So in this context if one says that F is located in x, it would mean that F is conjoined with x or that F inheres in x.8 When one says about an F that it is in or stands conjoined to x, i.e., F exists in the relation of conjunction in or on x, it sometimes makes sense to ask where in x – in which part of x - does F exist in the relation of conjunction? But the nature of the relation of samavaya or inherence is such that such questions make no sense. If F happens to exist in x in the relation of inherence, we cannot say (or ask) where in x or in which part of x does F inhere. Where in the milk, in which part of it, does the taste of milk reside? Where in man, in which part of him, does manhood inhere? When we say a horse is running fast do we say that any particular part of the horse is running? Wherever consciousness may be located in the sense of existing in the relation of inherence, it must be located in the whole of that locus. If it is inme–i.e.,locatedorinheresinme –thenitisinthewholeofmeandnotinany particular part of me. If I am a man, I am a man all over just as an ocean is ocean all over. Now when one says one is conscious, what is meant is that one has consciousness inhering in him. One who is conscious in this sense is conscious all over and not in any part of him. If on the other hand, even one part of his body, say the nails are not conscious i.e., lacks inhering consciousness then the body is not conscious at all; consciousness is not located (anywhere) in the body. It makes no sense to say that it inheres in one part of the body and not in another part of it.
A thing can exist in its locus partly; i.e. it can exist only in certain part or parts of its locus if it exists there in the relation of conjunction. This is one of the ways in which two relations in question which define or determine locus-located character (adhara-adheya- bhava) are distinguished. The relation of conjunction determines incomplete locus or incomplete occurrence in a locus (avyapyavrttitva) whereas inherence determines complete occurrence (vyapyavrttitva) of a thing in its locus. We can as well put it in this way, conjunction of a thing is available or occurs only in part or parts of its locus whereas inherence of a thing is available everywhere in the relevant locus. Things which have parts (or are of a kind which have parts) are ideal terms or candidates for the relation of conjunction to obtain in pairs of them. Only substances are such things.
Anyway, consciousness does have a location but in the whole of that locus it inheres i.e., exists in the relation of inherence. For a thing to be located in this sense is not incompatible with its existing everywhere. If the thing in which consciousness inheres is infinite in its magnitude then consciousness is everywhere. But to say this is not to commit oneself to accepting panpsychism. For one can still say consciousness is not in a stone or that a flower is not conscious. For things inhere everywhere of their locus only i.e., in the whole of their own locus and not outside their locus also.

8 We leave out the discussion why we ignore the possibility of x inhering in F. This much may be mentioned that we do not suggest that x itself cannot inhere in something or be located, in this sense, somewhere.

The locus in which consciousness is located or inheres is the infinite spiritual substance called self (atma). Though an infinite substance, self is not divisible or made out of parts. Consciousness inheres (that is located or exists in the relation of inherence) in this self – in the whole of it. It cannot be said to exist or be located in me in the relation of conjunction because I do not and I cannot say that some parts of I are conscious and other parts of I are not conscious. One can be partly paralytic – a part of him may be paralysed – but one cannot be partly conscious. Consciousness on the other hand cannot be said to inhere in things like brain – things which are other than self – because in that case consciousness could not have been something internal, it might have been external or physical.
So far we find no place for body or brain in the theory of consciousness we are reconstructing. But reference to it may be necessary if we are to explain the other commonly accepted features of consciousness namely that it is subjective and it is private. Sometimes these two words are used interchangeably, but private chamber or car of a person is not subjective. Anyway, consciousness is private, for different individuals or persons or selves do not share it. One’s consciousness is one’s exclusive possession; by contrast one’s class character is necessarily shared by at least one other individual of his own kind. One’s skin or one’s body may also be private in this sense, but these things are not subjective on that account. Consciousness is subjective in the sense that it is directly accessible to i.e., perceivable by the individual who possesses it. In other words an individual can perceive only his own internal states of consciousness.9
We have seen so far that consciousness is an internal phenomenon which is located everywhere in the infinite self which is its sole possessor or owner, and which alone can perceive this consciousness. It is one thing to know what is meant by saying that consciousness is private or subjective and it is another thing to be able to explain these features of consciousness. Why does one individual only posses it and why is it perceived by only the individual who possesses it? Answers to these questions should be possible to be integrated to the scientific causal theory of consciousness. The general theory of location gets integrated to the causal account of consciousness in case we are talking about the location of occurring things or events. A red colour is located (inheres) in a particular rose because that particular rose is cause (one among many causal factors) of that red colour and further when produced, that red colour inheres in that rose. In the causal genesis of certain state of consciousness, certain particular self plays the role of (the inhering) cause. There are many other things also which take part in the causal genesis of that state, but when produced, the state of consciousness inheres in the particular self-substance only which causes it.10 And there are good reasons for believing that every such self is different from every other self. One such reason is that every self is related in a special way to one single body. In that relation the self in question does not stand to any other body or self or, for that matter, to anything else. Different bodies (say human bodies) are recognizably different. And since each (empirical or phenomenal) self (i.e., each self in its state of phenomenal existence) is uniquely related to a single body, then every embodied self is a private individual.11 And because a state of consciousness inheres in the private self, which along with other factors causes it, every state of consciousness is private.

9 It will not be wise to jump to the conclusion that third person methodology is wholly inapplicable when the object of study is subjective consciousness. For the same consciousness which is directly perceived by its private owner can also be known indirectly, though not necessarily on the basis of the report of the owner, by other individuals. But in order to be able to access indirectly consciousness possessed by others one must be able to directly perceive one’s own consciousness and how one’s different conscious states are related to one’s overt bodily movements and actions.
10 Here we have arrived at the limit of explanation. We cannot perhaps say anything more if one asks us why state of consciousness when produced resides in the self that causes it and nowhere else, in no other substance nor even in those substances which along with the self take part in the genesis of it. Can we say it is the very nature of the thing thus produced to inhere in the self? Even if we can answer the question by saying that after all consciousness as a quality must inhere in some substance and two other substances which are somehow involved in the genesis of the state – manas and sarira – cannot have it in the relation of inherence for the following reasons, one may continue to demand additional argument why it inheres in the self. If no cogent answer is possible then one may say that since in none of the three possible substances consciousness can inhere it is a spurious property. Consciousness is nothing real. Anyway, a state of consciousness cannot inhere in the body for it is something internal and it cannot inhere in the manas because it is directly perceived. And if by such eliminative arguments consciousness, a quality, is not proved to exist in the only other possible substance, self, then that only shows that we have reached the limit of explanation. And we must admit that however far we may go in explaining things, there must be some limit beyond which our explanation cannot go.

There still remains a question. What is this unique relation of a self to its body? It cannot be conjunction. For as infinite substance, every self stands conjoined to every substance including all human bodies i.e., all the bodies of all men (which have only finite magnitude).12 It cannot be inherence either for the following reason. Human body is a substance of finite magnitude and self is a substance of infinite magnitude. An infinite substance does not inhere in any substance and no substance inheres in an infinite substance. Thus besides standing in relation of conjunction to every sarira, a self stands in relation to only one of these bodies (sarira-s) in a unique way. And this makes the (embodied) self a private being or individual. Before returning to the question, “What this special relation is we may as well take note of another principle of individuation in the context of selves. Experiences of different selves are recognizably different. These differences, in their experiences, are what makes every self different from every other self and makes it a private being.
These experiences are of two types mainly, cognitive experience and affective experience. Some of these affective experiences – immediate experience of pleasure and pain i.e., bhoga or sukha-duhkha-saksatkara – are the effect of certain cause of which the body that individuates the self in question and to which this self is related uniquely is also the effect. These causal factors may be called private causal factors.13 A body that enables us to differentiate in theory one self from another and which owes its origin to the same factors which accounts for the exclusive affective experiences of that self, may be said to explain why conscious experiences are private. Such experiences are produced in a self in so far as the self is related specially to a particular body. A body that is related to self in this way is called, for that reason, ayatana of experiences of pleasure and pain i.e., bhogayatana. A self has certain experiences in so far as it is uniquely related to a body which therefore is called its bhogayatana.
A self has experiences of pleasure and pain in so far as it is embodied and the body in question and the experiences in question owe their origin to certain common causal factors. The idea is this; a certain type of body and some specific relation to this type of body is necessary if the self has to have a certain type of experience. Reference to body is necessary if we are to explain the fact that self has experience and this experience is private to that self. If another self were to have these experiences then it also would have to be embodied in the same body and ultimately would be indistinguishable from the first self. The role, which a body plays in explaining the privacy of experience, as we understand it here, is to be distinguished from some other role of it to be discussed presently. The role just described may be described as the role of making it possible for the body to have experience at all. Thus to explain the mere possibility of experience as well as to explain partly the type of experience a self exclusively has we need to make reference to the body in which it is embodied, i.e., specially related and not related by way of inherence (or even conjunction).

11 In its non-phenomenal state also every self is different from every other self. The principle of individuation in such a state is necessarily different from what we use to individuate phenomenal selves. And the ultimate principle of individuation of some other substances is applicable to selves in their non-phenomenal state.

12 Infinite magnitude is not necessarily a spatial property. Things that are non-spatial in the sense that they do not stand related to space by way of conjunction or inherence can still bear relation of conjunction to things that are clearly spatial. When a non-spatial substance like space, time, and self stands related by way of conjunction to every substance which has finite magnitude (and so are spatial) it is called infinite.
13 Though another person may have causal factors of the similar kind, he cannot have the same particular causes. In other words there are some factors which (causally) produce both a body to which a particular self is related uniquely and some of the affective experiences which that self alone has.

We have so far concentrated on the affective side of experience or experience of pleasure and pain in respect of which experiencing individuals differ from one another.14 We need to refer to sarira also to explain the cognitive side of experiences of the self. A self cognizes both external objects and its own internal states. When a self experiences directly its own conscious states it is not only the (passive) seat or locus of those states but also, so to say, an active knower. Not only the states cognized are private possessions of the knowing self but at least some of the conditions of knowing them are also private or exclusive. By means of these conditions one particular self can know its own internal states only. These states are therefore doubly private – they are produced exclusively in one particular self and is perceived exclusively by that self; we can also say that they are located exclusively in one self and are the content of the further experiences which are similarly located.
But for all that consciousness is not embodied; the self is embodied. Again it is embodied not in the sense that it is inside the body in the way a ball may be put in a box. An infinite self is embodied in a finite body in the sense of standing to it in a specific way or in a certain relation which is or explains the very possibility of experiences both affective and cognitive. But these experiences are not processes or events that go or remain in the dark like the process of digestion or metabolism. These are revealed to the self which possesses them whether at the time of their occurrence or sometimes later. These experiences are there in the whole of the infinite self but self detects their presence with the help of the body or some detecting organ inside the body. So the body, with its internal structure of brain, nervous system etc. and equipped with manas, functions as the detector or manifesting medium of consciousness. It is not the seat of consciousness and nor for that matter the knower of consciousness. It is not a cause of consciousness directly. At this stage it is necessary to discuss the sophisticated theory of cause which the Naiyayika-s have developed. But that would require another occasion and a separate paper.

14 Individual differences in (the experience of) pleasure and pain are observed facts. So even when presented with the same object two individuals are found to react differently – one is pleased and the other is displeased.

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