Uniconscious

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1. WHAT IS UNICONSCIOUS?

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Consciousness at its simplest refers to “sentience or awareness of internal or external existence”. Despite centuries of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial, being “at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives”. Perhaps the only widely agreed notion about the topic is the intuition that it exists. Opinions differ about what exactly needs to be studied and explained as consciousness. Sometimes it is synonymous with ‘the mind’, other times just an aspect of mind. In the past it was one’s “inner life”, the world of introspection, of private thought, imagination and volition. Today, with modern research into the brain it often includes any kind of experience, cognition, feeling or perception. It may be ‘awareness’, or ‘awareness of awareness’, or self-awareness. There might be different levels or “orders” of consciousness, or different kinds of consciousness, or just one kind with different features. Other questions include whether only humans are conscious or all animals or even the whole universe. The disparate range of research, notions and speculations raises doubts whether the right questions are being asked.

Examples of the range of descriptions, definitions or explanations are: simple wakefulness, one’s sense of selfhood or soul explored by “looking within”, or “nothing at all”; being a metaphorical “stream” of contents, or being a mental state, mental event or mental process of the brain; having phanera or qualia and subjectivity; being the ‘something that it is like’ to ‘have’ or ‘be’ it; being the “inner theatre” or the executivecontrol system of the mind.

Western philosophers since the time of Descartes and Locke have struggled to comprehend the nature of consciousness and how it fits into a larger picture of the world. These issues remain central to both continental and analytic philosophy, in phenomenology and the philosophy of mind, respectively. Some basic questions include: whether consciousness is the same kind of thing as matter; whether it may ever be possible for computing machines like computers or robots to be conscious; how consciousness relates to language; how consciousness as Being relates to the world of experience; the role of the self in experience; whether individual thought is possible at all; and whether the concept is fundamentally coherent.

Recently, consciousness has also become a significant topic of interdisciplinary research in cognitive science, involving fields such as psychology, linguistics, anthropology, neuropsychology and neuroscience. The primary focus is on understanding what it means biologically and psychologically for information to be present in consciousness—that is, on determining the neural and psychological correlates of consciousness. The majority of experimental studies assess consciousness in humans by asking subjects for a verbal report of their experiences (e.g., “tell me if you notice anything when I do this”). Issues of interest include phenomena such as subliminal perception, blindsight, denial of impairment, and altered states of consciousness produced by alcohol and other drugs, or spiritual or meditative techniques.

In medicine, consciousness is assessed by observing a patient’s arousal and responsiveness, and can be seen as a continuum of states ranging from full alertness and comprehension, through disorientation, delirium, loss of meaningful communication, and finally loss of movement in response to painful stimuli. Issues of practical concern include how the presence of consciousness can be assessed in severely ill, comatose, or anesthetized people, and how to treat conditions in which consciousness is impaired or disrupted. The degree of consciousness is measured by standardized behavior observation scales such as the Glasgow Coma Scale.

The origin of the modern concept of consciousness is often attributed to John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, published in 1690. Locke defined consciousness as “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind”. His essay influenced the 18th-century view of consciousness, and his definition appeared in Samuel Johnson’s celebrated Dictionary (1755). “Consciousness” (French: conscience) is also defined in the 1753 volume of Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, as “the opinion or internal feeling that we ourselves have from what we do”.

The earliest English language uses of “conscious” and “consciousness” date back, however, to the 1500s. The English word “conscious” originally derived from the Latin conscius (con- “together” and scio “to know”), but the Latin word did not have the same meaning as our word—it meant “knowing with”, in other words “having joint or common knowledge with another”. There were, however, many occurrences in Latin writings of the phrase conscius sibi, which translates literally as “knowing with oneself”, or in other words “sharing knowledge with oneself about something”. This phrase had the figurative meaning of “knowing that one knows”, as the modern English word “conscious” does. In its earliest uses in the 1500s, the English word “conscious” retained the meaning of the Latin conscius. For example, Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan wrote: “Where two, or more men, know of one and the same fact, they are said to be Conscious of it one to another.” The Latin phrase conscius sibi, whose meaning was more closely related to the current concept of consciousness, was rendered in English as “conscious to oneself” or “conscious unto oneself”. For example, Archbishop Ussher wrote in 1613 of “being so conscious unto myself of my great weakness”. Locke’s definition from 1690 illustrates that a gradual shift in meaning had taken place.

A related word was conscientia, which primarily means moral conscience. In the literal sense, “conscientia” means knowledge-with, that is, shared knowledge. The word first appears in Latin juridical texts by writers such as Cicero. Here, conscientia is the knowledge that a witness has of the deed of someone else. René Descartes (1596–1650) is generally taken to be the first philosopher to use conscientia in a way that does not fit this traditional meaning. Descartes used conscientia the way modern speakers would use “conscience”. In Search after Truth (Regulæ ad directionem ingenii ut et inquisitio veritatis per lumen naturale, Amsterdam 1701) he says “conscience or internal testimony” (conscientiâ, vel interno testimonio).

The dictionary meanings of the word consciousness extend through several centuries and several associated related meanings. These have ranged from formal definitions to definitions attempting to capture the less easily captured and more debated meanings and usage of the word.

One formal definition indicating the range of these related meanings is given in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary stating that consciousness is:

  • awareness or perception of an inward psychological or spiritual fact: intuitively perceived knowledge of something in one’s inner self
  • inward awareness of an external object, state, or fact
  • concerned awareness: INTEREST, CONCERN—often used with an attributive noun.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines consciousness as “the state of understanding and realizing something. The Oxford Living Dictionary defines consciousness as “The state of being aware of and responsive to one’s surroundings.“, “A person’s awareness or perception of something.” and “The fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world.[27]

Most definitions include awareness, but some include a more general state of being.

The philosophy of mind has given rise to many stances regarding consciousness. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy in 1998 defines consciousness as follows:

Consciousness—Philosophers have used the term ‘consciousness’ for four main topics: knowledge in general, intentionality, introspection (and the knowledge it specifically generates) and phenomenal experience… Something within one’s mind is ‘introspectively conscious’ just in case one introspects it (or is poised to do so). Introspection is often thought to deliver one’s primary knowledge of one’s mental life. An experience or other mental entity is ‘phenomenally conscious’ just in case there is ‘something it is like’ for one to have it. The clearest examples are: perceptual experience, such as tastings and seeings; bodily-sensational experiences, such as those of pains, tickles and itches; imaginative experiences, such as those of one’s own actions or perceptions; and streams of thought, as in the experience of thinking ‘in words’ or ‘in images’. Introspection and phenomenality seem independent, or dissociable, although this is controversial.

In a more skeptical definition of consciousness, Stuart Sutherland has exemplified some of the difficulties in fully ascertaining all of its cognate meanings in his entry for the 1989 version of the Macmillan Dictionary of Psychology:

Consciousness—The having of perceptions, thoughts, and feelings; awareness. The term is impossible to define except in terms that are unintelligible without a grasp of what consciousness means. Many fall into the trap of equating consciousness with self-consciousness—to be conscious it is only necessary to be aware of the external world. Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon: it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it has evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written on it.[29]

Most writers on the philosophy of consciousness have been concerned with defending a particular point of view, and have organized their material accordingly. For surveys, the most common approach is to follow a historical path by associating stances with the philosophers who are most strongly associated with them, for example Descartes, Locke, Kant, etc. An alternative is to organize philosophical stances according to basic issues.

2. WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL DIALECTIC OF UNICONSCIOUS?

The Essential Dialectic of Uniconscious is:

{Substance-Difference ⇆ Difference-Substance ⇅ Substance-Substance} ↻ Difference-Difference

3. WHAT IS THE COMPLETE DIALECTIC OF UNICONSCIOUS?

The Complete Dialectic of Uniconscious is:

{Pure-Difference ⇆ Subject-Substance ⇅ Excess-Desire} ↻ Traumatic-Gaps

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4. WHAT IS THE EQUIVALENCY DIALECTIC OF UNICONSCIOUS?

The Equivalency Dialectic of Uniconscious is:

{Unconscious ⇆ Uniconscious ⇅ Metaconscious} ↻ Onticconscious

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