The problem of what humans should care about, a life purpose if you wish to call it by that name, is one that is not by any stretch of the definition ‘solved’, and a consensus on what life’s important gifts are seems too far over the horizon. Some take refuge in work, keeping themselves busy until it’s hello darkness my old friend. Religion, family, science, and the goal of just obtaining stuff (greed) are also present in discussions of the ‘right’ way to live.
The concept that I would like to contribute to the conversation is called that of maintaining a content consciousness. Remember that thoughts, emotions, and expressing and receiving expressions are all perturbations of consciousness. The five smells become a meaningless statement when consciousness is lost. The other previously mentioned paths one could take to a meaningful life are also impossible without consciousness. The consolations of religion and the advancements of science don’t mean anything to us if these activities don’t alter consciousness. Would a prayer in church have an effect without the mental tools to analyze music and lyrics? Would the creation of an elevator have an effect on our stress level if the difference between excruciating pain and good health was undetectable? If we want to live happy lives, then we should conduct more research on consciousness and it forms.
The first question to ask if whether consciousness is actually physical. Whether consciousness can be removed by taking apart the human body, or whether consciousness itself is immaterial. This is known as the mind body problem in philosophy. Religious tend to believe the consciousness is immaterial and will float off the brain at death, while neuroscientists tend to believe that consciousness is connected to the brain, and may or may not change after death. But for the brain to be connected to consciousness isn’t the same as being dependent on the brain. Being dependent would mean that without the brain, there is no consciousness. Being connected is to say that the brain is a part of consciousness, which has been shown through various neuroscience experiments
That is unfortunately all we can claim to know about consciousness, as it is a puzzle with pieces still missing. Regardless, I believe we should rally around the experimenters and philosophers who still attempt to solve this problem, as the answer could have serious moral and spiritual implications.