Consciousness and the World

By Brian O'Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

Introduction

The purpose of this work is to provide a theory of Consciousness, a phenomenon of pivotal importance in the mind, intimately linked to the other phenomena to be studied, and of the relation of consciousness through perception with the World towards which essentially it is directed. To be in the state consciousness is to be in the experiential condition of being aware of the World. As we say of the conscious, they are 'in touch' with Reality as those lost in a trance or dream are not. My interest lies in this fundamental mental phenomenon and the way it engages with Reality.

The work begins with an analytical inquiry into consciousness, the main enterprise at the outset being the dismantling of this state into its constituents. Thereafter the discussion moves to an investigation of the closely related phenomenon of the Attention, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as 'The Stream of Consciousness'. Now one of the prime functions of the attention is to enable the mind to open out attentively or perceptually onto outer reality. Here we have an occurrence of great moment, indeed a watershed in the development of mind. In perception we encounter the phenomenon in which consciousness must originally have travelled beyond its own confines and engaged with the rest of the World. This event, in which two diverse realms come together, in which the mind establishes concrete contact with the World, and in its ultimate ontological physical form, must be of great importance to consciousness. And it must in addition be a matter of major significance so far as consciousness is concerned that in the final analysis perception is the only conceivable avenue that could lead consciousness out onto the contents of physical reality. It is in any case via such an avenue that consciousness acquires the substance for its representations and the setting for its deeds.

The discussion which follows sets out to give an analysis of the main participants in this interaction, to show in close-up how such a concrete connection between consciousness and the World is effected, and reveal just what in the end it accomplishes. Starting out from the phenomenon of consciousness, together with an analytic account of what it brings to the epistemological transaction, I attempt to set out in intelligible stages the manner in which a bridge of awareness, arising in the experiential core of consciousness, spans the divide between two diverse realms and leads the mind out onto that spatio-temporal scene of physical objects from which ultimately, through the phenomenon of internalization, the mind itself in the first

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Consciousness and the World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Consciousness and the World iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I Consciousness 35
  • 1: The Experience 37
  • 2: The Anatomy of Consciousness 68
  • 3: Self-Consciousness and Self-Knowledge 102
  • 4: 'Translucence' 164
  • 5: Consciousness and the Mental Will 200
  • 6: Interiority and Thinking 233
  • Part II the Attention and Perception 265
  • 7: The Attention 275
  • 8: The Attention and Perception (1) 291
  • 9: The Attention and Perception (2) 302
  • 10: Perception and Truth 318
  • 11: The Imagination (1) 339
  • 12: The Imagination (2) 362
  • 13: Imagination and Perception 371
  • 14: Active Attending or a Theory of Mental Action 379
  • Part III Seeing 407
  • 15: 'Blindsight' and the Essence of Seeing 415
  • 16: Seeing the Light 439
  • 17: Sense-Data (1) or the Ways of the Attention 465
  • 18: Sense-Data (2) 502
  • 19: Secondary Qualities 515
  • 20: The 'Perceptual Given' and 'Perceptual Mediators' or the Formation of the Visual Experience 538
  • 21: Appearances 570
  • 22: Perceptually Constituting the Material Object 592
  • Part IV Perception and the Body 621
  • 23: Proprioception and the Body Image 628
  • 24: The Sense of Touch 656
  • Conclusion 681
  • Index 697
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