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Consciousness and Life

Translated by John Claverley Cartney

The word “consciousness” is customarily understood as having a double-meaning: (a) the substance, or content, of experience; and (b) the critical empiricism which observes that experience. In experience, we occupy a station within consciousness, whereas during the process of empirical apprehension, we stand outside experience. The first state possesses actuality for itself (fürsich), whilst the second state can be said to approach actuality only insofar as it remains connected to the first. Life has no need for the process of comprehension in order to exist, although spiritual comprehension does require the presence of a living “event” (Geschehen) in order to commence its operations. Bearing these reflections in mind, it is of fundamental importance for the theory of consciousness that we indicate precisely which of the dual meanings is under examination. Ordinarily the word seems to suggest—for instance, as it is employed in the substantival infinitive of the declaration: “I am conscious of myself” (as of an object)—that it actually refers not to an object, but, rather, to an observation, and it certainly piques our interest to discover that current scientific terminology, in heart-warming conformity with popular usage, has endorsed the latter interpretation exclusively. Unfortunately, this approach excluded consciousness itself from consideration so thoroughly that the whole structure of psychology almost seems to have been established upon a [false fundamental principle], a procedure that would certainly entail ominous consequences for such derivations as had been drawn from it. But before we continue to develop our exposition, it is necessary that we now interpolate a brief digression.

Read the original article at: revilo-oliver

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