What is consciousness?
The nature of consciousness was also interested in ancient philosophers, and nowadays psychologists have also joined in the study of this phenomenon. But the question of what is consciousness still has not received a definite answer. In the article, we will consider consciousness from both a psychological and a philosophical point of view, and we will not say that any of the described theories is the most correct, - everyone will draw conclusions himself.
What is consciousness from the point of view of psychology
Consciousness and psyche
The oldest psychological definition of consciousness is that it is equated with the human psyche or soul. Psychologists of the distant past believed that there was only a conscious mind, and only much later was the human mind separated from the mind. More precisely, it turned out that the psyche is not only consciousness: at the end of the XIX - beginning of the XX centuries. psychologists began to be interested in the content of the unconscious psyche. Although it must be admitted that to this day, many scientists do not pay enough attention to the studies of the unconscious, preferring to do what is on the surface, that is, conscious manifestations of the human psyche.
Consciousness and thinking
The following psychological definition of human consciousness is that it represents the thoughts and experiences that a person has the ability to describe in accessible language for others. That is, it is not only speech, but also, for example, mimicry and gestures, as well as symbolic images. Thus, consciousness is represented as a kind of collective knowledge about human nature, passed down from generation to generation.
Another similar point of view defines consciousness as an exclusively verbal, language fact. In other words, consciousness, as some psychologists believe, can be enjoyed only by one who speaks speech. It turns out that human consciousness acts here as, again, a collective knowledge of the objects around a person, that is, in fact, it is equated with language thinking. By the way, the following interesting article may induce curious reflections on the forms of the reader's consciousness.
Consciousness and unconscious states
And the last psychological definition of consciousness is directly related to periods of sleep and wakefulness. When a person is awake, they say that he is conscious, that is, he adequately perceives what is happening, and when he sleeps or is unconscious, his consciousness is turned off.Here, the structure of consciousness appears to us as a combination of the active part of our psyche - consciousness itself, and the passive - that is, unconscious or subconscious, which controls us in our sleep and during periods when consciousness is turned off as a result of injuries or diseases, or as a result of special influences - for example hypnosis
The philosophical essence of consciousness
At first glance, there is a lot of confusion in philosophy as to what consciousness is. However, some philosophical systems have long and with crystal clarity formulated what many psychologists have not been able to do over the past few centuries. However, to list and explain the definitions of consciousness from the point of view of this or that school of philosophy is the topic of more than one article, therefore, we denote the main ideas.
Consciousness in terms of dualism
First of all, let us consider the dualistic point of view: dualism tells us that there are physical objects and there is consciousness that perceives and cognizes them. Thus, consciousness is identified with the spirit of man, and the body (object) - with matter. But it is a mistake to assume that dualists extolled consciousness and belittled the essencematter On the contrary, they considered these substances equal and equally important, not able to exist without each other.
Eastern teachings and behaviorism
At first glance, behaviourists simply approach the definition of consciousness - they perceive it only as a person�s behavior, or as a tendency toward a certain behavior. That is, consciousness from the point of view of behaviorism is a set of inclinations and habits that are realized by a person in behavior. It would seem, what a simplification! But if the reader is familiar with such an Eastern philosophical system as Advaita Vedanta, one of the most radical manifestations of Hinduism, then he is hardly surprised.
What does advaita tell us? A person is not free in his behavior, since it (behavior) is determined by a number of factors - upbringing, life experience, reactions to the actions of others, and even to his own thoughts. And even thoughts - do they arise by our will? However, we will not delve into advaita, but continue acquaintance with the philosophical definitions of consciousness.
Consciousness in terms of idealism, materialism and functionalism
Opposite points of view on the nature of consciousness are idealists and materialists (which is natural).The latter believe that everything that surrounds us must have a physical nature, that is, one way or another to be manifested. Therefore, from the point of view of the materialist, consciousness is simply the quality of matter. Idealists, on the other hand, consider consciousness primary, identifying it with perception. From the point of view of idealism, matter does not exist outside of perception.
Finally, functionalists perceive consciousness as a tool for performing certain actions, that is, taking it beyond spirit and matter, because from the standpoint of this theory, any mental state also performs a certain function.
These are the main philosophical theories that describe the phenomenon of consciousness. Of course, there are many other definitions of the nature and form of consciousness, but all of them somehow intersect with those already considered by us.