Chapter 3. Consciousness as a product of evolution and the highest stage of development of the psyche
Development of the psyche in the process of evolution
All living organisms must interact with their environment for their survival: to extract nutrients, to avoid harmful influences. For this, it is necessary to reflect, to sense the external environment, its vital components. Reflection is the universal property of matter. Even objects of inanimate nature reflect the results of influence on each other. Thus, the shape of a rock washed by the sea or rain, wind-blown, gradually changes. This is the physical form of reflection inherent in all matter.
Reflection in the broad sense of the word is an interaction between objects, as a result of which the features of one object are reproduced in the features of the other. But the more complex the matter is organized, the more perfect the forms of reflection.
The appearance of the living is associated with the appearance of a special type of reflection - irritability. Irritability - the property of living organisms (plants and animals) to react with changes in their state to biologically useful or harmful effects; it is a biological (physiological) form of reflection by living organisms of the environment. Selectively highlighting biologically significant effects from the environment, recognizing useful and harmful, the body reacts to them by its behavior. An adequate response of the body to a significant stimulus is necessary for its self-preservation. To all other influences that do not have vital significance, he remains indifferent (indifferent).
Both animal and plant organisms have irritability. But plants react only to substances that directly affect them, they do not actively search for these substances. However, even for plants characteristic elementary movements in the direction of vital for them impacts. These movements are called tropisms. Plants possess phototropism (movement towards light), thermotropism (movement toward heat), hemotropism (movement toward certain chemical stimuli), geotropism (movement of the plant root toward the center of the earth), negative tropisms (movement from harmful effects).
The adaptive movements of the simplest unicellular organisms are called taxis.
In process of evolutionary development, animal organisms began to react not only to biologically significant stimuli, but also to those stimuli that are themselves indifferent, biologically insignificant. Unlike plants, animals actively search for food or escape from harmful phenomena, guided by their indirect, concomitant signal signs. Earlier indifferent stimuli, constantly combined with vital, acquire an alarm for the animal.
If even the simplest organisms (unicellular) are placed in a curved test tube, the electric current is stimulated at the bend point, then, when the stimulation stops, the unicellular ones, reaching the point of the test tube bending, stop. Thus, an indifferent, biologically indifferent sign (bend) in itself acquired a negative signal meaning. The same bend may in other conditions, with the presence of nutrients in it, acquire a positive signal value.
Already the simplest organisms have a fundamentally new form of reflection of reality - sensitivity. Sensitivity is a form of reflection of reality in which biologically neutral stimuli begin to be reflected if they signal vital signs. Sensitivity is psychic, i.e. signal-adaptive, reflection of reality. The emergence of sensitivity means the emergence of elementary forms of analysis (the identification of individual characteristics) and synthesis (combining, connecting phenomena by their individual properties).
As complex organisms develop, a specialized organ of sensitivity, the central nervous system, arises and develops.
So, the behavior of animals in the environment is organized on the basis of a mental reflection of the environment - a mechanism that provides a plastic, adequate behavior based on the analysis and synthesis of vital signs of the environment.
In the process of evolution, living organisms are becoming more and more adapted to changing environmental conditions, they develop new, most appropriate forms of behavior, improve the mental refl