Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

60030Re: The circularity of consciousness

Expand Messages
  • Mary
    Jul 8, 2013
    • 0 Attachment
      eduard,

      You are of course free to disagree with Sartre, but I'm not sure what your objection to the two modes of consciousness is. You have previously agreed, I think, that consciousness performs several functions. Sartre is simply saying in refutation to Descartes' cogito that to be is to doubt, to be is not firstly to reflect. Self-consciousness as simple perception, experience or thought is pre-reflective or non-thetic or non-positional. To think about or to reflect on these (perception, experience, thought) is a different operation of self-consciousness. Sartre intends to show that self-consciousness is involved in every operation not merely reflection but also in original pure perception, experience, and thought.. He also places importance on intentionality, because it's related to nihilation and freedom. The cogito and pre-cogito are in relation and depend on one another. There is no required linear chain of conscious acts in order to be conscious of consciousness. There is a circularity of dependence.

      Mary

      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eduardathome <yeoman@...> wrote:
      >
      > Jim,
      >
      > The McCulloch article does not provide a clarification.
      >
      > For example ....
      >
      > “However Sartre makes a great deal of the point that this is not the only form of self-awareness we enjoy. He claims that in addition to this reflective and explicit self-consciousness, which is just a special case of an act of consciousness positing an intentional object, we are also always at least implicitly self-conscious in a special way, even when we are not explicitly reflecting. Even while I am engaged in Act 1 above, even before explicitly becoming self-conscious in Act 2, Sartre would insist that I was implicitly aware of myself as thinking about the Eiffel Tower (Act 2 is also thus implicitly self-aware, although it would take an Act 3 for it to become the intentional object of an act: see TE: 44-5)”
      >
      > It would seem that this is somehow vital information, but is there anyone in the room who does not realise that when thinking about thinking about the tower, that they are also aware that they are thinking?? Why would it have to become an “Act 3”. What specifically is Act 3?? There is description of Act 1 and Act 2, but no description of Act 3.
      >
      > I suppose that Act 3 would be the act of thinking about thinking about ‘the first time for a week that I've recalled that day in Paris when . . .' I don’t think this assists an understanding of consciousness, but carries it to the absurd. You could posit an Act 4 and so on.
      >
      > eduard
      >
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Jim
      > Sent: Sunday, July 07, 2013 6:07 AM
      > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [existlist] Re: The circularity of consciousness
      >
      > Mary,
      >
      >
      > In reply to Eduard, you write:
      >
      >
      > "Think of it this way: consciousness is a thing, it exists, it is or has being. Consciousness in-itself is simply pure sense perception and pure experience without reflection or intent. Consciousness which perceives and 'records' experience just is what it is. Yes, it is an awareness but not of itself, so it is merely in-itself. It is pre-reflective and without intention."
      >
      >
      > Although I am finding this aspect of Sartre's philosophy difficult, I am not convinced that how you describe Sartrean consciousness here is how Sartre himself would describe it. In McCulloch's commentary which I have now nearly finished, there is no reference to consciousness as "being-in-itself". On the contrary consciousness is described as "empty" and "being-for-itself".
      >
      >
      > McCulloch does talk of the difference between first-order consciousness and second order-consciousness as well as the contrast between thetic consciousness and non-thetic consciousness.
      >
      >
      > I shall quote the central sections of McCulloch's book where he discusses these issues:
      >
      >
      > Two modes of self-consciousness As already mentioned, Sartre considers all conscious episodes to posit an intentional object. Now among such intentional objects are acts of consciousness themselves. I might think about the Eiffel Tower, and then think about this act itself: `That's the first time for a week that I've recalled that day in Paris when . . .'. The first act of consciousness, Act 1, which has the tower as intentional object, has here become the intentional object of a further (self-reflective) act of consciousness, Act 2. This mode of self-awareness he calls `reflective consciousness' or `thetic self awareness' (B&N: xxix; TE: passim; STE: 56). However Sartre makes a great deal of the point that this is not the only form of self-awareness we enjoy. He claims that in addition to this reflective and explicit self-consciousness, which is just a special case of an act of consciousness positing an intentional object, we are also always at least implicitly self-conscious in a
      > special way, even when we are not explicitly reflecting. Even while I am engaged in Act 1 above, even before explicitly becoming self-conscious in Act 2, Sartre would insist that I was implicitly aware of myself as thinking about the Eiffel Tower (Act 2 is also thus implicitly self-aware, although it would take an Act 3 for it to become the intentional object of an act: see TE: 44-5). He calls this special kind of implicit self-awareness, `pre-reflective consciousness [or cogito]', and also `non-thetic self-awareness'. Even if my attention is completely absorbed in the intentional object of my consciousness, say this screen now before me, this fact is available to me in the non-thetic mode:
      >
      > "there must be an immediate, non-cognitive relation of the self to itself" (B&N: xxix) (McCulloch, pp. 9-10)
      >
      > Sartre concludes that an act of consciousness must have a primitive way of knowing itself, and that it is this feature which makes it possible for it to serve as intentional object to a further act. But, clearly, this primitive way of knowing itself cannot be accommodated by the doctrine of intentionality, since the whole problem was that acts of consciousness cannot serve as intentional objects unless they have some feature besides that of being directed at an object. Hence Sartre's distinction between thetic and non-thetic consciousness. Thetic consciousness is directedness at intentional objects, be they material things or acts of consciousness: non-thetic consciousness is a non-intentional form of self-awareness which all (human) conscious activity involves, and which makes it possible for us to reflect thetically on our own conscious acts:
      >
      > "it is the non-reflective consciousness which renders the reflection possible; there is a pre-reflective cogito which is the condition of the Cartesian ego." (B&N: xxix; cf. TE: 43ff., PI: 10-11)
      >
      > And it is non-intentional self-consciousness which supplies the extra component, along with intentionality itself, involved in the being of consciousness. Thus
      >
      > "the type of existence of consciousness is to be consciousness of itself. And consciousness is aware of itself in so far as it is aware of a transcendent object. All is therefore clear and lucid in consciousness: the [intentional] object with its characteristic opacity is before consciousness, but consciousness is purely and simply [non-thetic] consciousness of being [thetically] conscious of that object. This is the law of existence." (TE: 40)
      >
      > The esse of consciousness does not consist in being perceived, but consists in being non-thetically aware of itself as thetically aware of intentional objects. A mental act, which thereby has an intentional object, is only a conscious positing of that intentional object in virtue of its non-thetic self-awareness. (McCulloch, p. 101)
      >
      >
      > I think, Mary, you were making these distinctions in some of your earlier exchanges with Eduard, but I hope these quotes are helpful in revealing the subtleties and complexities of Sartre's account.
      >
      >
      > Jim
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > Please support the Existential Primer... dedicated to explaining nothing!
      >
      > Home Page: http://www.tameri.com/csw/existYahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • Show all 171 messages in this topic