Phenomenology of Self-Consciousness: Text and Commentary

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At the same time, making this principle explicit may open the way to a further development of human consciousness and its scientific delineation. As the two cornerstones of human consciousness, perceiving and thinking have understandably become core issues of modern psychological research. As such they have been extensively explored by means of the methodological framework that has been established in the development of psychology as a scientific discipline during the last years.

In the course of this development, many substantial results have been achieved, especially regarding the strong interdependencies of thinking and perceiving as demonstrated in the following discussion. Evidence of this has been presented, for example, in the classical study of Milgram about destructive obedience as well as in the field of perceptual priming e. Both approaches involve experimental settings in which individuals are confronted with external stimuli prompting them toward specific interpretations or forms of behavior.

Other examples are the impact of certain words Hassin et al. Community Game, Liberman et al. On the other hand, with reference to the paradigm of constructivism, it has become common psychological knowledge that what we think about the world or people determines what we actually perceive.

Scholars such as Kelly and Piaget and Inhelder expounded this principle in terms of developmental psychology or therapy; it has been subsequently substantiated and expanded by application to other phenomena such as social stereotypes Katz and Braly, and different aspects of mindfulness Langer, Both directions of effect between thinking and perceiving have been carefully substantiated in numerous empirical studies and can therefore be deemed certain.

Moreover, the two modes of psychological interaction functionally fit together and seem to be mutually interdependent; for this reason they can be considered to be based on similar or even the same mental processes. However, at this point one of the methodological core difficulties of modern psychology begins: the inner nature of mental processes cannot be directly observed and measured in the same manner as their external and quantifiable behavioral utterances. Due to the methodological self-restriction of mainstream empirical research to the distanced third-person perspective, fundamental factors of consciousness must be treated, at least in part, as implicit processes Schacter, ; Proctor and Capaldi, In this view, thinking and perceiving are assumed to be predominantly based on automatic routines running unconsciously or unaware so that they can only be addressed by either unobservable mental constructs or non-mental terms De Houwer and Moors, The most common and largely exhausted way of dealing with this methodological deficit is to trace conscious events and processes back to certain forms of brain action e.

Today, the doctrine of neuro-reductionism is the predominant official manner of scientifically integrating thinking and perceiving as central aspects of consciousness. Looking at it the other way round, the quantitative measures of neuroscience appear, so to speak, as externalized perceptions without any inner coherence on the phenomenal or experiential level. Consequently, their conceptual integration requires a clear distinction between the neuronal as necessary conditions and the experiential as sufficient conditions of consciousness Nussbaum and Ibrahim, In this sense, sufficient conditions of thinking and perceiving must comprise certain criteria which can make their genetic and integrative relevance clear on an experiential level.

2. The Discipline of Phenomenology

Without questioning the necessity of neural processes for phenomenal consciousness, a more detailed and immanent examination of mental processes should promote our understanding of the other side of the coin: the inner relations of thinking and perceiving as the working mechanisms for consciousness. In this study, the experiential relations of thinking and perceiving will be investigated in two steps, a preliminary historical and a phenomenological one.

While the historical perspective on thinking and perceiving leads to a more theoretical dimension of the topic in the sense of a large-scale picture of philosophical and scientific evolution, the phenomenological view explicitly brings into view the experiential or first-person dimension which so far has been insufficiently considered in science. Furthermore, as shall be shown, the two views are structurally linked to each other and therefore could jointly lead to a comprehensive perspective.

Since each of the issues, thinking and perceiving, can be understood in itself in terms of mental action and temporal development, it can be expected that both methodological views, the historical and the phenomenological one, will come together at a certain point of the analysis.

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Hegel's Phenomenology of Self-Consciousness: Text and Commentary (SUNY Series in Hegelian Studies) [Leo Rauch, David Sherman] on Presents a new translation with commentary of chapter IV ("Self-Consciousness") of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Offering a new translation of the famous.

In the following discussion, a few highlights are given from the historical perspective, especially regarding the history of human consciousness and philosophy. In respect to prehistoric times, the available artifacts do not seem to indicate cultures in which perceiving and thinking were experienced as sharply separated forms of mental life, or as different approaches to the world at all. However, since only little is known about prehistoric cultures, this view remains speculative, on the one hand. But, on the other hand, the relatively slow development of cultural knowledge in its initial stages could be an argument that in the early stages of humanity there is still an undivided and world-bound state of mind regarding perceiving and thinking.

In this sense, it is probably the absence of written language which could indicate that the state of mind is still holistic and remains in immediate experience and instinctive reaction. Insofar as animal forms of life and consciousness are regarded as human predecessors, the automatic interconnection of perceptual impression and behavioral expression obviously refers to an earlier stage of development. The act of writing something which has been thought or experienced saves these events from passing away with the current of time and makes it possible for them to become increasingly distinct.

However, prehistoric cave paintings, for example, could be interpreted as a preliminary step in this direction, even though they still remain in a pictorial, pre-linguistic, and therefore probably dreamlike, pre-rational form of consciousness. Nevertheless, in addition to creation myths that are orally handed down in all cultures, this already shows the beginning of the separation of subject and object.

Later on, in ancient Indian philosophy and then at the dawn of modern Western consciousness in pre-Socratic philosophy, the subject—object split became more and more solidified whereas there are only few indications of a further differentiation between perceiving and thinking as distinct forms of approaching the world Windelband, However, the fact that possible epistemic relations between human individuals and the surrounding world are the object of intellectual deliberation already indicates an incipient divergence of perceiving and thinking in these philosophers.

Starting with this implicit emancipation from the immediately perceived world as well as from religious associations, this new, autonomous thought in philosophy irresistibly became a necessary condition for the further disentangling of perceiving and thinking.

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In the course of more exact thought about the sources of knowledge the specific characteristics of thinking and perceiving emerged and began to move away from each other. In contrast, Democritus preferred an explication of all existence in spatial and material terms. His atomism assumed smallest particles that were supposed to constitute everything, be it material or mental. These atoms or particles appear as theoretical abstractions from single objects perceived through our bodily senses Windelband, Therefore, at that time, the split between different forms of human self-experience gradually came to awareness — be it as a material body in a material world or as an immaterial soul in a spiritual world — and therefore the abyss between perceiving and thinking flew open Figure 1.

Differentiation processes in the history of consciousness. The basic process is the increasing separation of subject human being and object world. Closely interwoven with this is the differentiation of the cognition object into a spiritual aspect and a material aspect and the successive realization of equivalent forms of knowing—thinking and perceiving.

This diverging development and its consequences can be further traced throughout the history of philosophy and science. In the Scholastic philosophy of the middle ages, this divergence can be illustrated by the question whether ideas have to be considered to be real, spiritual entities — accessible to thought — or whether they are human constructions articulated as words or names for things which first have to be sensually perceived in the outer world Klima, Moreover, it was characteristic of Scholastic philosophy that this question was only discussed in theoretical terms within the methodological frame of syllogistic inference, excluding empirical investigation and evidence.

Later on, in the Renaissance, the discovery of perspective as a means of visual representation opened the possibility of distinguishing between aspects of spatial relation and contextual meaning Gebser, With the era of the Enlightenment and the beginning of the modern era, this development culminated in the philosophical differentiation of rationalism and empiricism. According to him, thought is the most important tool of both self-knowledge and world knowledge and is inherently independent of outer perception.

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I think the true answer is: when he first has some sensation. Interestingly, despite these opposing stances, both epistemological paradigms already converged in a certain sense in the birth of modern natural science at the beginning of the 17th century. They did not, of course, converge as a restoration of the former state of mind of prehistoric times.

Rather, the opening of modern science was an innovative step toward a state of mind which was the most advanced one at that time — simply because of the methodological integration of perceptive and cognitive skills at the highest level. Without a clear insight into the laws of mathematics together with profound experimental observation, the enormous success of natural science would not have happened.

In order to read this book, we have to look precisely into nature but we also have to be able to decipher its cryptic, mathematical character. The first is needed in order to perceive, the second in order to think.

Hypothesis and Theory ARTICLE

Or vice versa: without thinking, we have no idea, no hypothesis about what to see when looking into nature. In the adequate methodical combination of theoretical thought and experimental observation and measurement lies the secret of scientific success. But it has to be pointed out that this new methodology contained and to this day still contains the danger of a fatal imbalance. While this is a powerful program for investigating physical phenomena, it leads to serious questions when simply transferred to other disciplines such as biology, psychology, and sociology.

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Each functions as an individuality, endowed with certain powers and capacities for self-expression, pursuing his ends for his own interest, spontaneously putting forth his energies without being clearly aware of or concerned with any universal result which his essentially universal nature must bring about. The Buddhist theory of self-cognition. In the immediacy of this confrontation, they are for one another as common objects, independent forms, consciousness immersed in the being oflife since the existent object has here determined itself as life. This is why Hegel can say, quite simply, that consciousness is desire. Rather, the skeptical self-consciousness is in full certainty of its freedom when it allows that "other" to vanish, although it presents itself as real. Only by relating to another self-consciousness can a self-consciousness develop into a determinate self, and thereby attain a truer view of knowledge. Block, N.

For the natural sciences such as physics and chemistry, a materialistic ontology seems to be quite suitable — although not necessary. But what happens in the attempt to measure even those phenomena that obviously contain an experiential and hence immaterial aspect? Phenomena such as life and conscious experience are simply reduced to their outer, behavioral and thus measurable expression. In historical comparison, this is a complete reversal of the Scholastic one-sidedness of treating all problems in the rigid intellectual scheme of logical argumentation without experimental validation. In psychology, as a human science, this initially led to the division of rational and empirical orientations in research in the 19th century and later on to the dominance of the latter. However, it should be noted that the aspiring branch of empirical psychology was strongly aligned with the methodological paradigms of natural science and therefore dismissed all aspects of introspective observation.

In the course of this shift a paradox becomes relevant in modern psychology: on the one hand, as a researcher, the individual has enormously increased his power of methodological control and therefore emancipated himself from religious patronizing and metaphysical or superstitious attitudes. On the other hand, as an issue of research, the individual tends to become a measurable and hence controllable object without much self-awareness or self-efficacy, especially when it comes to establishing the psychological mechanisms.

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Although in the end, it is actually the same human being that once appears as an active subject and then as a passive object of science, considerable efforts are normally made to keep these aspects neatly separated. In the course of this development, the researcher increasingly becomes alienated from himself as a conscious being and this, in consequence, has fostered the belief in materialism. What can be perceived or measured — outer objects — and what can be thought — inner representations or constructions — these two aspects have again drifted apart from each other Figure 2.

In conclusion, we can draw an interim inference containing the following three aspects. Firstly, the brief excursion into the history of consciousness, philosophy and science has shown certain dynamics which can be termed as a successive separation and integration of thinking and perceiving, or as a divergence and confluence Wagemann, a , b. This dynamic in the history of consciousness can be considered as a hypothetical pattern of development. In certain historical stages, these styles or paradigms of knowing 1 and associated world views seem to periodically diverge and converge.

Secondly, especially during the periods of divergence, a particular cultural emphasis on thinking or perceiving appears to become present which leads to a predominance of idealistic or materialistic world views, of rationalism or empiricism. As can be seen here, in this first period of about years the predominance of neo-Platonism, Patristics and Scholastic philosophy in the context of the growing influence of Christianity speaks for a more idealistically tuned phase without much interest in rigorous empirical observation.

However, at the same time and almost independently, the empirical conditions for modern science silently emerged in the course of these centuries, for example the invention of technical instruments and measurement and the training in practical experimental skills, for instance in the alchemistic laboratories of the middle ages. And then, at the birth of modern natural science in the coincidence of mathematical thinking and quantitative observation, the turning point toward the unstoppable victory march of materialism was reached.

Even though this development was temporally overlapped by German idealism, this merely seemed to spur on the liberation of science from all metaphysical ballast. But, thirdly, this oscillation does not just appear as an eternal recurrence of the same but as a progressing evolution involving well-known movements as well as entirely new qualities.

Hegel's phenomenology of self-consciousness : text and commentary

The rise and fall of periodically emerging fashions of thinking and perceiving such as idealism and materialism is strongly aligned to the human striving for emancipation and individualization. This striving seems to be a continuously transforming dimension of human consciousness with quite new, ever-expanding and unpredictable forms of expression and effect. To sum up, we can distinguish 1 the historical basic pattern — separating and integrating — of thinking and perceiving, 2 the predominance of thinking or perceiving in certain phases, and 3 the strong tendency of striving for emancipation and individualization as a guiding principle throughout all phases.

This can serve as a working hypothesis and as a background against which we can briefly look at the current situation. As already mentioned, we seem to live in a period in which thinking and perceiving are quite separated from each other. Regarding the psychological topic of vision, for example, perceptual and conceptual forms of knowledge are neatly distinguished for reasons of processing speed and the difference between particularity in perception and generality in conceptual thinking Gregory, ; Dretske, Nevertheless, in the current Human Brain Project , for example, the attempt is made to technically simulate brain processes on larger scales in the assumption that this would already provide a better understanding of human consciousness e.

In this way, ironically, the mainstream of cognitive science and materialistic neuro-philosophy proclaims a certain unity of perceiving and thinking — simply in the sense that both are equally affected by brain processes.

Attributing the development only to neural reorganization and subsequently increased connectivity remains hypothetical because brain tissue cannot be studied by paleontology and also would not surmount the categorical gap of explanation Wagemann, Rather, neural signal processing shows a character of modal de-qualification and structural decomposition in relation to the properties of the contents of consciousness Witzenmann, ; von Foerster, ; Laurence and Margolis, Furthermore, no brain region or neural algorithm could be found which would substantiate any integrative effect Wagemann, , The eye cannot totally see itself even not in a mirror and the stomach cannot digest itself this would be pathological , so why should the brain establish an integrative self-reference of the whole person?

Rather, it would be useful to speak of functional self-exclusion regarding all physical organs without exception Wagemann, In other terms, this argument has become known as the mereological fallacy confusing one part brain activity with the whole conscious human being Bennett and Hacker, With a view to these arguments indicating the functionally insufficient and divisive character of neural processes and to the recent historical development of science, especially psychology, leading to a methodological dissociation of thinking and perceiving, it has been shown that new ways toward integration should be sought.

In the following discussion, one prospect pointing in this direction will be demonstrated in the context of Structure Phenomenology as a specific form of consciousness phenomenology comprising methodological aspects as well as an introspective pilot study. After the preliminary failure of introspective accounts at the beginning of the 20th century the approaches in question work on different methodological aspects of introspection in order to gain new insights into psychological phenomena.

Without distracting from the importance of standard psychological research, such investigations can show that first- and second-person accounts are not only valuable additions to the former but can also bring fundamental structures to light that might otherwise remain hidden Petitmengin, ; Weger and Wagemann, b ; Weger et al. Against this background, a distinct approach of consciousness phenomenology called Structure Phenomenology shall be presented here and applied to the question of the inner relation of thinking and perceiving.

This approach has already been touched in some of our former studies mentioned above and shall now be shifted to the foreground. This seems to be justified because this form of consciousness phenomenology includes certain methodological aspects that make it possible to approach the core processes of consciousness more closely than do more common accounts Wagemann, The crucial point, as shall be shown in the following discussion, lies in a clear and systematically replicable relation of consciously experienced mental action and structural components of reality.

Witzenmann also assimilated some influences from Hegel, Husserl, and Heidegger, especially in his terminology, but with some significant shifts of method and meaning. That means to 1 identify specific forms of mental action which regularly occur in the observation of outer natural phenomena plants, colors, etc. This approach locates phenomenology precisely between the exercise, observation and description of mental acts in concrete situations, on the one hand, and the endeavor to search for their invariant processual structure, on the other.

Therefore, to a certain extent, it stands between the more pragmatic forms of descriptive Giorgi, or experimental Ihde, , phenomenology and the turn to transcendental idealism of the late Husserl Zahavi, Regarding the extensive debates in cognitive science and philosophy of mind, Structure Phenomenology indeed refers to some central aspects discussed as will be shown, but, however, stands out in terms of its fine-grained empirical method and its processual conception of mental events.