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What is conciousness?

  • #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 483 ✭✭ lazydaisy


    This question emerged in a humanities thread which I thought would be interesting to explore here.

    Anyone care to start?


Comments



  • Hmm, it's a difficult question. Essentially I think of it as a self awareness and ability to think abstractedly about yourself.




  • John2 wrote:
    Hmm, it's a difficult question. Essentially I think of it as a self awareness and ability to think abstractedly about yourself.

    Thats pretty much what I would have said too. It's pretty much the ability to identify ones relationship with the outside world.

    An interesting "spin-off" of consciousness is the philosophy of phenomenology, which basically "takes intuitive experience of phenomena (what presents itself to us in conscious experience) as its starting point and tries to extract the essential features of experiences and the essence of what we experience." (Wikipedia). I'm doing an essay on Social Phenomenology at the moment, and it seems quite interesting if a bit difficult to get into. Not sure how relative this is to psychology though.




  • or we could follow Freud's structural view of the mind;



    The Id

    The Id represents primary process thinking — our most primitive, need-gratification impulses. It is organized around the primitive instinctual drives of sexuality and aggression. In the id, these drives require instant gratification or release.

    The Superego

    The Superego stands in opposition to the desires of the Id. The Superego is based upon the internalization of the world view, norms and morality. As the conscience, it includes our sense of right and wrong, maintaining taboos specific to a child's internalization of parental culture.



    The Ego

    In Freud's view the Ego mediates between the Id, the Superego, and the external world to balance our primitive drives, our moral ideals and taboos, and their limitations of reality. Although in his early writings Freud equated the ego with our sense of self, he later began to portray it more as a set of psychic functions such as reality-testing, defense, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, memory, and the like.




  • I've never been satisfied with Freud's view. The whole "primitive drives" and the need to balance it with our more "up to date" world view cuts no mustard here. I don't think you can break down the mind that easily into discrete areas like the id, ego and superego.




  • what about his stages of development in children? eg

    oral (0-18 months)
    anal (18 months - 3 1/2 years
    phallic (3 1/2 years - 6 years)
    latency (6 years - puberty)
    genital (puberty - adulthood)


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  • To be honest I haven't covered that bit much but I know from my girlfriend (who lives for developmental and educational psychology) that no one in the field takes Freud's theories that seriously. The thing about Freud is that he had the right idea about the study of the mind, to not think of it as something inexplicable but to look at it scientifically. Unfortunately most of what he thought didn't stand up to further research.

    Anywho, back to consciousness.




  • MrJoeSoap wrote:
    Thats pretty much what I would have said too. It's pretty much the ability to identify ones relationship with the outside world.

    An interesting "spin-off" of consciousness is the philosophy of phenomenology, which basically "takes intuitive experience of phenomena (what presents itself to us in conscious experience) as its starting point and tries to extract the essential features of experiences and the essence of what we experience." (Wikipedia). I'm doing an essay on Social Phenomenology at the moment, and it seems quite interesting if a bit difficult to get into. Not sure how relative this is to psychology though.
    Phenomenology has quite a lot to do with cosciousness and pychologism and well everything!Phenomenology is the the study of consciousness and is the study of our experience-how we experience.
    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=316222




  • Phenomenology has quite a lot to do with cosciousness and pychologism and well everything!Phenomenology is the the study of consciousness and is the study of our experience-how we experience.
    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=316222

    Thanks for the link mate, I've an essay due in 2 weeks on it. That'll definitely help.

    I just wasn't sure about the relation between phenomenology and psychology, I thought it would have been more accurately shelved under Philosophy or Sociology at a push. I guess the fact that consciousness is such a major factor in it means it can belong under psychology too.

    Thanks again.




  • MrJoeSoap wrote:
    Thanks for the link mate, I've an essay due in 2 weeks on it. That'll definitely help.

    I just wasn't sure about the relation between phenomenology and psychology, I thought it would have been more accurately shelved under Philosophy or Sociology at a push. I guess the fact that consciousness is such a major factor in it means it can belong under psychology too.

    Thanks again.
    No problem, I saw 'quite interesting if a bit difficult to get into' and I had to help :D

    Although I have no essay due on phenomenology I know how you feel,two of my housemates are running round in circles trying to do an essay on phenomenology and it's impact on philosophy ...infact the OP in that thread is one of them :)




  • hi all,
    new to the board.
    I'm currently trying to grapple with a definition of it (consciousness) and there are just so many approaches- I don't know about the psychoanalytic approach, altho' Jung's "collective unconscious" appeals to me. But I do agree it is about awareness, and beyond awareness, being aware of being aware, if that makes any sense? I mean is a new born aware of anything? I think so, so then it is not learned? but meta awareness is learned. so I don't know about that one either.


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  • Danah Zohar has written a book on consciousness, "Quantum Self". It concentrates around something called Bose-Einstein condensates and how they interact to form a coherent consciousness. It's so-so but if you have an interest in quantum physics as well as psychology you may want to go it a go.




  • I think the most interesting work on consciousness is coming from allied disciplines like neuroscience, biology and AI. Read from different authors like VS Ramachandran, Christof Koch (VERY interesting work on neural network systems), Francis Crick, Susan Greenfield etc. Within philosophy Dan Dennett is well worth a read.


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