‘Consciousness’: from the Latin ‘Con Scire‘: ‘to be awake; to know’; and related to Cognitionem, as in the words ‘Cognition’ and ‘Science’.
The First Law of Consciousness states that you may not investigate your consciousness while being in an actively conscious state.
If you can consciously point to something as your ‘Consciousness’, by that very fact, what you have pointed to cannot be your consciousness.
You cannot be conscious of being ‘Conscious’. You can be conscious. That’s it.
To be conscious of being ‘Conscious’ is the high road to fatal self-contradictions. An unwarranted, illegitimate doubling that makes what is simple and unclouded into a belligerent complexity.
You cannot, however hard you blink, wiggle or scheme, stand outside Consciousness to orate upon it. If you feel hemmed in, that is the idea.
If you can convincingly hold-forth on the conscious ‘Unconscious’ in addition to the merits of mentating about Mind, your talent should not go unnoticed. The most convincing Couch Therapists all live on Park Avenue.
Listened in recently on a major convention of international scientists on ‘Consciousness and Science’ [I think that’s what the title was] in India, presided over by the Dalai Lama. The word Self-Reference, let alone the Self-Loop, never occurred even once.
The convention was major news in the media for weeks. The Scientists, it said, were close to cracking the code. I need a beer.
You know, there is actually a book titled ‘Consciousness Explained’ by a chaired professor of a famous university. I can’t wait to buy it once it is out on paperback. I’ll let you know.
The idea of Consciousness, its centrality in the minds of the most influential modern thinkers, has never been fully appreciated. Nor their short-stops.
So come with me now to Königsberg, Prussia, circa 1750 CE.
Immanuel Kant from his ‘Critique of Pure Reason’, a volume that helped mark the domain of Academic Philosophy for several generations:
‘The ‘I Think’ must accompany all my representations..I call it pure apperception..because it is a Self-Consciousness..it is in all acts of Consciousness one and the same and unaccompanied by it no representation can exist for me.
The unity of this apperception I call the Transcendental Unity of Self- Consciousness..and this principle..is the highest principle in all human cognition.’
So how does this ‘Unity’ catch itself?
[Kant, unlike most philosophers, was well aware of the Self-Loop. I’ll get to it in later Posts]
Were not done yet. Step into my old Porche Convertible for a long drive south to Hanover, Germany, a 1,000 kilometers and a 100 years away. Let’s go meet Dr. Wilhelm Leibniz.
Here is Dr. Leibniz on his celebrated ‘Twin Truths’:
‘The immediate awareness of our existence and our thoughts furnishes us with the first a posteriori truths, or truths of Fact, the first experiences, while identical propositions embody the first a priori truths, or truths of Reason, the first illuminations.
Neither admits of proof and each may be called immediate.’
‘Transcendental Unity of Self-Consciousness’? ‘The immediate awareness of our existence and our thoughts’?
No. We are not in the Himalayas amidst a mystical mountain-sect. Nor the corner of Haight and Ashbury.
We are in Hanover, at the Study of Dr. Wilhelm von Leibniz, a founder of Modern Logic and the Mathematical Calculus. [If you want someone to blame for your shoddy grades in Math, here’s the man.]
So. Am I ‘immediately aware’ of my ‘Immediate Awareness’?