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Consciousness as determined through the times

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Consciousness as determined through the times

Consciousness is understood in a variety of ways. In one belief, a person is conscious when awake, but unconscious when sleeping or comatose. Yet people also do things requiring perception and thought unconsciously even when they are awake. A person can be conscious of their physical surroundings, pain and even a wish or fantasy. In short a creature is conscious if it is aware of itself and that it is a physical and emotional being. Consciousness is a psychological condition defined by the English philosopher John Locke as "the perception of what passes in a man's own mind".1

Consciousness is defined and perceived differently in many psychological view points. For instance the earlier views around the 19th century was diversely considered. Most perceived consciousness as a substance or "mental stuff" unlike an object from the physical world. Others deferred that the conscious mind was what separated man from lower forms of life. It is an attribute characterized by sensation and voluntary movement which described the difference between normal waking state of animals and men and their condition when asleep.2 Other descriptions included an analysis of consciousness as a form of relationship or act of the mind toward objects in nature, and a view that consciousness was a continuous field or stream of essentially mental "sense data."

The method believed by most early writers in determining consciousness was introspection'looking within one's own mind to discover the laws of it's operation. This belief was limited when it was apparent when observationalists could not agree on observations. Obviously due to the differences in one's own idea of introspection and the underlying views they possessed.

The failure of introspection to reveal consistent laws led to the refection of all mental states as subjects of scientific study and thus psychology attached consciousness to its diversity.

The term consciousness is most often used by philosophers and psychologists as meaning "attention to the contents or workings of one's own mind." This notion had little significance for the ancients, but it was emphasized in the 17th century by John Locke and Rene Descartes.

Contemporaries of these two philosophers thought of consciousness as the operation of the inner-eye. Both Locke and Descartes went further. They held that consciousness was involved with every working mental state. In this view the mind is transparent to itself that is, it can perceive it's own activity. For three centuries self transparence was the defining feature of the mind. That conception was sprung through the theories of Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener who were advocates off a science of introspection.

Early in the 20th century the transparency doctrine came to a setback for three different reasons. The first reason was Sigmund Freud's compelling evidence that some very important mental activity is not only subconscious but firmly resists conscious access through repression. At first Freud's idea of unconscious was treated as self-contradictory, but it has since won acceptance as being useful and entirely possible.

the second difficulty for the transparency doctrine was that it made the mind impossible for objective science. What is known introspectively to a single person would be utterly private and therefore can not be ...

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