Consciousness, according to various scholars, entails everything that a person experiences. It is the tune stuck in a person’s mind, and the bitter knowledge of a happening, mostly a given feeling. The origin and the nature of these experiences have been a mystery from the earliest days of antiquity right up to the present. According to a number of philosophers, the existence of consciousness enables intolerable affront to what they believe should be a meaningless universe of such, matter, and the void that they declare to be an illusion. Consciousness remains a puzzle and very controversial, where it is “at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives”.
Understanding what entails to be human, and more specifically, the nature of consciousness has been an issue of long debates and perceptions by scientists and philosophers alike. Consciousness has continuously been explained as a rainbow, a connectome, and a kind of meaningful whole that is composed of meaningless parts (Turello 2015). Various philosophers have different ideas of what consciousness entails. This varies from the time of the existence of the philosophers and the different strategies they used to identify the solution of what Consciousness entails.
Human consciousness displays a strong unity, when one experiences a noise and, say, a pain, one is not conscious of the noise and then, separately, of the pain. One is conscious of the noise and pain together as aspects of a single conscious experience. At least at the time of Immanuel Kant, this phenomenon is referred to as the unity of consciousness (Turello 2015). More generally, it is consciousness not of A and, separately, of B and, separately, of C, but A-and-B-and-C together, as the contents of a single conscious state. This notion of the unity of consciousness has played a massive role in thought about the mind. Some of the most influential arguments about the mind have been in place since the time if Descartes in the 20th century. In the early part of the 20th century, this notion disappeared, but since the 1960s, there have been numerous analytic philosophers who have commenced to pay attention to it again. Immanuel Kant is one of the key philosophers who has addressed the issues of human consciousness. In his notion, he states that consciousness is unified, which is central to his ‘transcendental deduction of the categories.’
According to Kant, in order to tie various objects of experiences together into a unified conscious experience of the world, there is a need to apply various concepts to the items in question. According to Kant, the four fundamental categories of concepts include quantitative, qualitative, relational, and what he called ‘modal’ concepts (Bermudez 2020). This attempt to try to link the unity of consciousness to the structure of knowledge captures the imaginations of various philosophers who have differing opinions about the concept. Hence, different Philosophers whose attention has been drawn to the concept of the unity of consciousness try to expound on what the concept entails (Bermudez 2020). Kant was familiar with the arguments of the kind. The concept bailout Unity of consciousness nevertheless does not tell us about the sorts of entity minds are, which includes where or not they are made out of matter. According to Kant, the achievement of unified consciousness by a system of components acting together would be no more or less mysterious as compared to it being achieved by something simple, i.e., has no components.
Descartes on consciousness
According to Descartes, consciousness is the thought of something “in us,” of which we are conscious. This involves reflection, where the reflective light is not districting from the initial thought itself. Descartes’s adjustments on the topic of consciousness have led to some scholars concluding that he did not have a single account of consciousness (Bermudez 2020). According to some scholars, Descartes works with different notions of consciousness: Whether or not he would have been aware of this is unclear. He provides an insight into the first purely psychological use of the consciousness concepts. Through defining thoughts in terms of consciousness.
Nevertheless, he fails to provide an analysis of the concept, but instead, he employs the concept in a way that grounds the epistemic in the Meditations. From Descartes’s views, there are three main threads of psychological sense of conscience that emerge., First is the fact that consciousness makes thoughts to be transparent to the mind, where one gets aware of his thoughts (Bermudez 2020). A second threat from the philosophy is that consciousness involves reflection, where it is entirely a constituency of perception, which is distinct from the original perception. From the philosophy, consciousness thought is intentional, where the thoughts by a person may be representational and where the nature of intentionality may have a relation to consciousness.
David Humes on consciousness
David Humes is another philosopher who has contrasting philosophy on what consciousness entails. In his famous remarks, he testifies to the failure to observe anything but perceptions, when as he says, “I enter into what I call myself.” Humes’ remarks have often been cited to express insights about the elusiveness of self, where people are required to honor their accounts of self-consciousness (Flage 2019). Humes makes a skeptical claim that people have no experience of a simple, individual impression that they can call themselves, where the self, in this case, is the totality of persons’ conscious life. Humes writes, “For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception” (Flage 2019). According to him, even though his perceptions are fleeting, where he is a bundle of different perceptions, he has some personal identity ideas, which ought to be accounted for.
According to the philosopher, there is resemblance or a casual conception within the chain of perception, which gives rise to an idea of a person, where the memory extends this idea pats the immediate perceptions one may be having (Flage 2019). This notion can occur when the idea of a soul or unchanging substance is added where it gives a stronger or more unified concept of the self.
Philosopher John Searle on Consciousness
John Searle, a philosopher, defines consciousness by its four features. According to him, consciousness is real, fundamental, caused by the process of the brain that exists in the brain and can function causally. His conception of consciousness counters many of the philosophical conceptions in place. According to the philosopher, consciousness has to be thought of as a logical phenomenon (Turello 2015). This is since it is as much as part of human and animal biology as which is similar to functions such as photosynthesis, digestion, or mitosis, amongst many other biological processes.
The only fundamental difference between consciousness and other biological processes is that there is a better understanding of these processes as compared to the understanding of consciousness (Starks 2017). This is since it is very tough to understand the processing of the brain entirely. According to John Searle, we are getting closer to comprehending consciousness as a biological phenomenon. Nevertheless, the main change is that it is tough to understand how the brain works, since it is very complicated, where scientists are still at the early stages of investigating the most basic principles of how the brain functions. By understanding how the brain works, it is easier to understand what consciousness entails and comprehend how it exists in the human brain. According to Searle, the mind refers to the processes and events in a person’s brain, both consciously and unconsciously (Starks 2017). He states that there are many mental phenomena on the conscious mental phenomena and the unconsciousness phenomenon.
According to the philosopher, the most critical feature of the mind is the intentionality, which is simply the future of the kind, directed on what to do and what not to (Turello 2015). This means that fears, beliefs, intentions are desires are all as a result of intentionality. According to the philosopher, lots of animals, besides human beings, have brains. It is, however, tough to determine how far down the phylogenetic scale consciousness goes. It is nevertheless clear that all animals have consciousness, where they understand what consciousness entails, then it would be easy to understand its scale (Starks 2017). Nonetheless animals such as amoebae, and paramecia, according to the philosopher are not conscious because they fail to have mechanisms that are essential for the creation of consciousness.
William James on Consciousness
William James is often considered the father of American Psychology, who coined the stream of consciousness. According to him, the central function of human consciousness makes sense of reality through abstract concepts. According to him, “The whole universe of concrete objects, as we know them, swims… in a wider and higher universe of abstract ideas, that lend it its significance” (Short 2020). The human conception is built on abstract ideas, which then form the background for all our facts. John states that everything humans know is what it is through sharing in the nature of these abstractions. According to John, the absolute determinability if a person’s mind by abstractions is a cardinal fact of the human constitution.
The abstractions polarize and magnetize a person, when persons then run towards them or from them. According to James, a person’s consciousness is capable of states which radically disrupts its own near model universe of attractions. The philosopher is clear that there are different types of consciousness, ranging from normal ailing consciousness to range consciousness (Short 2020). He states that humans can go on with their life without being aware of their existence, where they nevertheless apply the requisite stimulus. There is no account of the universe in its totality, according to James, which hence leaves other forms of consciousness entirely disregarded (Short 2020). James, arrived at such a conclusion, where he was not stating it as a mere philosopher, but rather also an empiricist. He used his own body and mind in undertaking laboratory experiments with nitrous oxide, which gave him a glimpse of a whole other side of his consciousness.
There are varying descriptions and definitions of consciousness. A general definition of consciousness is everything that a person experiences. The origin and the nature of these experiences have been a mystery from the earliest days of antiquity right up to the present. Different philosophers have different theories and concepts on what consciousness entails. This is based on their own or other people’s experiences. Some of the philosophers who have various definitions and concepts of consciousness are Descartes, John Searle, William James and David Humes . They differ and agree on what consciousness entails and h the role of the brain. Understanding what entails being human, and more specifically, the nature of consciousness has been an issue of long debates and perceptions by scientists and philosophers alike. A majority of the philosophers tend to agree on the role of the brain on consciousness. Many of them agree on the notion of the unity of consciousness and how the brain plays a critical role in ensuring that humans portray consciousness. Nevertheless, more studies on the same ought to be undertaken in order to give a broader comprehension of how consciousness occurs in human beings and generally how the the functionality of the brain and its role in the consciousness of a human.
Bermudez, J. L. 2020. “. Four Theses about Self-Consciousness and Bodily Experience: Descartes, Kant, Locke, and Merleau-Ponty. Journal of the American Philosophical Association.” 6(1), 96-116.
Flage, D. E. 2019. “David Hume’s theory of mind (Vol. 5). Routledge.”
Short, D. 2020. “From William James to Milton Erickson: The Care of Human Consciousness. Archway Publishing.”
Starks, M. 2017. ” Review of Philosophy in a New Century by John Searle (2008).”
Turello, Dan. 2015. “Brain, Mind, and Consciousness: A Conversation with Philosopher John Searle.” https://blogs.loc.gov/kluge/2015/03/conversation-with-john-searle/.