The Problems of Consciousness

Personal Anecdotes

In trying to determine just what consciousness is, it may be helpful to record some personal memories or ramlings about consciousness, what it feels like, how various people have come to think about it.

To start with, we have this from David Chess:

When I was little, I had a sort of mantra that I would use to fret about this strange thing, this very weird circumstance that, as well as all the stuff that was true about the world, there was also this bizarre and different fact that it was me who was aware of it all. This puzzled me in ways I couldn't really put into words, and I would repeat to myself at those times "I just don't see how I am me".

Sometimes at night in bed, when I was in an especially inward mood, I would focus on this bizarreness, on the difference between the world out there and me in here, and the universe would start to spin (but not really spin), and, if I did it really well, I would find myself sitting up in bed, my eyes wide and my heart pounding.

I can get the same feeling of spinning or slipping now and then as a grownup, by the same focusing on the selfness of myself, but never with quite the intensity of my youth. I've gotten too used to the universe, I imagine!

We eagerly solicit help in this endeavor; if you have a story or an anecdote about what consciousness is like for you, send it via email to

David Chess accepts all the blame, but Steve White gets some of the credit. If you're lost, see the site map. This page last updated January 8th, 2000.