Anything that can choose is conscious to that extent, to the extent that it can choose.
In this respect, “that which chooses” has cognition of its options and also tends to make anti-entropic choices, choices that go against the entropy of itself. (If it did not do this or stopped doing this, it would not survive long. Its anti-entropic choices take energy from the environment, of course.)
Choosing and going against entropy does not mean always doing this correctly or in the best way.
It can be argued that matter also chooses or participates in some overarching principle of choice or selection. Matter’s very common cause-and-effect relations with itself must be based on something besides matter itself.
Consciousness, thus, can be defined as that which:
- has cognition of options
- is primarily anti-entropic for itself
We can also say that this same consciousness as just defined:
- chooses though not always well
- has cognition though often mistaken
- is anti-entropic in ways that can be counter-productive
Matter itself conforms to principles—the laws of physics—though these do not appear to apply or apply well to chaos, radiation, quantum fluctuations, black holes. Nor to themselves in the sense that they do not reveal where they come from.
This suggests that matter itself persists under unknowable conditions much as we do.
What we do not know does not just include metaphysics but also anything we can imagine. At some point, we just won’t know anymore.
Socially, we rarely know the motives of others. Psychologically, we often cannot be rational about our own motives. And even if we are being rational we often base our decisions on bad data or incomplete or unknowable data. We often do not understand or even know what our own motives are.
When there are many factors, we become confused. Our minds feel chaotic. We become anxious, indecisive, emotional. This is a form of consciousness trying to make choices, struggling to choose, to select.