See also: Conscience (homonymy)
The Conscience is mental faculty to perceive the phenomena, its own existence or its emotional states. If I am sad, happy and that I realize that I am sad or happy, for example, I become aware of my emotional states.
should not not be confused the conscience thus definite with the moral conscience treated low in this article.
It is important to distinguish:
conscience as a mental phenomenon related to the mental Perception and constructions, which includes/understands:
The term conscience is thus likely to take several significances, according to the context.
Conscience like Representation of the world and the reactions to this one
This first direction indicates Représentation, even very simplified, of the world and the reactions compared to that-ci' . One speaks then about conscience of the world , in English awareness .
It is that which is evoked in expressions like to lose conscience , or contrary to become aware . This conscience is regarded as present at the Mammifère S.
At the man, recent research over several periods of the history shows the importance of the concept of representation: See for example Georges Duby (on the low Middle Ages), Jean Delumeau (on the Rebirth), and on a more epistemological level, searchs for Michel Foucault relating to the épistémè. The social Psychologie also speaks about social Représentation.
Representation of its own existence
The conscience is a fact with the direction where Descartes affirms in the Méditations Metaphysics that " the heart is a report/ratio with soi". The introspection of the conscience thus regards the methodical doubt as the object first of the report/ratio to oneself.
In a more individual direction, the conscience can also correspond to a Représentation, even very simplified, of its clean Existence . One then speaks about self-awareness , or reflexive conscience , in English consciousness .
One primarily allots it for the moment to the Homme and the large monkeys Anthropoïdes like the Chimpanzé and the Orang-outan. It seems also reasonable to extend it to the dolphins and elephants which have cognitive and emotional capacities advanced.
The conscience in this second direction implies that of the first, since “to know” necessarily means “to know in its reports/ratios in the world” (including other beings potentially endowed with conscience). The reverse is not on the other hand true. To take a limiting example, a loop of order including/understanding a Thermostat constitutes the elementary shape of conscience of the world to which nothing encourages to allot a self-awareness.
Relation between the self-awareness and the conscience of the world
The self-awareness is quite illustrated in Médecine, especially at the individual level. It is indeed one of the vital Fonctions which makes it possible to react to the situations, to move and Parler spontaneously. More generally, the state of consciousness (of the full conscience to the major Coma) is determined by the state Neurologique of the patient.
The minimal shape of conscience of the worldOn the level of the conscience of the world, the things can be shown more complex, by implying a whole of Phénomène S related to the context sociological, political, economic. The minimal degree of conscience of the world seems that or one has quite simply something to say on the world (philosophy cannot say anything for the moment (2006) on a nonobservable conscience by his demonstrations: That which one cannot speak, it should be concealed explains Wittgenstein). A simple sensor of presence has a beginning of representation of the world (presence, absence). Still needs one to be integrated in a diagram of conscience that this information is used downstream by something (release of alarm, etc).
Minimal form of self-awarenessSelf-awareness, as the conscience of the world (Rene Dubos would say “to act local/think total”) is never complete. A question which deduced - since all are incomplete - is “which is the minimal degree of self-awareness conceivable? ”. Descartes answers it by its famous “I think, therefore I am”. The cognitive Sciences are interested to detail the operational direction of this sentence (see Antonio Damasio, Daniel Dennett…).
One knows the formula of Socrate: “even know”, which shows that bad a Connaissance of oneself has an impact on the Connaissance of the world and reciprocally - since we form part of the world. In fact, the self-awareness indicates the conscience of particular phenomena connected to the concept of oneself .
Concept of cultureOne could also bring the concept of conscience closer to the world of that of Culture, as a system of Représentation. It is noted that the word culture is often Perçu in French language in an individual meaning with a connotation " Intellectual " (this term not being always perceived positively), although it exite of the collective directions: Culture of company, French Culture, Mass culture,…
In German, both direction are given by different Mot S: and.
Aspects of the conscience
Plurality of demonstrations
In addition to the two principal directions already seen, the concept of conscience has many direction or Manifestation S which one can endeavor to distinguish, although in certain cases these differences are especially differences in degrees:
conscience like feeling: any gifted being of sensitivity can be known as conscious, insofar as it perceives its environment and answers Stimuli;
one can distinguish a higher stage, by meaning by the word conscience state of awakening of the organization, state which differs from the precedent by the fact that it is not reduced to the passivity sensitivity (cf in English, the word wakefulness , vigilance, alert); in this direction, it is not there aware in the state of deep sleep or the coma;
Self-awareness: the conscience is the presence of the Esprit to itself in its Représentation S, as reflexive Connaissance of the prone which is known perceiving. By this presence, a Individu takes Connaissance, by a Sentiment or a interior Intuition, psychic states which it refers to itself as a prone. This reflexivity returns to a problematic unit of the Me and thought, and with the Croyance quite as problematic as we are at the origin of our acts; this last direction is a knowledge of our conscious state to the first directions. The scope of application is rather vague and comprises degrees: if it is about a clear conscience and clarifies, the children undoubtedly do not have the conscience in this direction; if it is about a least degree of conscience, of a kind of awakening to oneself, then not only the children can be regarded as conscious, but perhaps also certain animals.
- another direction of the word conscience was introduced by the philosopher Thomas Nagel: it is about the conscience for a being of what that made be what he is.
conscience like conscience of something (transitive conscience, opposed to intransitivity because of being conscious). This conscience returns to the problematic existence of the outside world and our capacity to know it;
In the whole of these distinctions, one can note a design of the conscience like knowing of oneself and immediate perception of the thought, and another like feeling of oneself implying an obscure base and to become conscious which are in general excluded from the first design.
the moral conscience, as for it, indicates the moral judgment of our actions. In this case, the conscience enables us to distinguish the good from the evil. See low.
Fundamental questions related to the conscience
There exist many theories which endeavor to give an account of this Phénomène. Starting from these theories, one can propose some groups of fundamental questions: is
- Which the nature of the conscience (and, consequently, its origin and its development)? is
- Which its characteristics? is
- Which its mode of existence? How can it exist starting from not-conscious entities? is
- Which its function? Does it have a clean causality and, if so, of which nature?
- Which relations the conscience does it maintain with the others Phénomène S the Réalité, Physique S and Mentaux?
In short, it is a question of describing the conscience, of discovering its cause and of determining its role and its value.
The model of the Cartesian Spectateur is called into question because, like points out it Daniel Dennett, one cannot explain the conscience by the conscience : to explain requires that the Explication not make call itself to a Compréhension of what one precisely wishes to explain (“To explain means to explain away ”). In other words, one will have explained the conscience only when that is done in terms not utilizing not the word nor the concept of “conscience”. If not, one falls into a circular Argument (see the article: Sophism S).
It seems that these questions are to be put in connection with the Cogito of Descartes, given in its context, and with the concept of Représentation of the world. Descartes conceived its Philosophie in reaction to the model Géocentrique, incarnated by the " Aristotélicien s" and the declining Scholastic of her time, and according to the model Héliocentrique which emerged with the Observation S made by Galileo (see Dialogo will sopra I due massimi sistemi LED mondo, 1633).
In the language running, the concept of conscience can be opposite with the unconsciousness, the carelessness, the Distraction, the entertainment, etc
Actually, there exists an epistemological glance on the conscience, defended inter alia by the Sophrologie caycédienne, namely that the conscience is an integrating force of all: the Unconscious , subconscious and the conscious one.
In addition to the psychoanalysis and the Medicine, the study of the conscience relates to several disciplines, like the Psychologie, the Psychiatrie, the Philosophie of the spirit and the Philosophie of the action. It is also related to the language (verbal or not), therefore with the Philosophie of the language.
Buddhist philosophy studies the conscience, Vijñāna and analyzes the various forms and functions of them. It is then about the one of the components of the person, Skandha S, distinct from the Perception, Samjñā; however, if vijñāna is translated by conscience, and that the term indicates a Connaissance well, the concept does not recover the conscience in the thought Occidentale.
It is only at the 17th century that the term becomes a base of the reflection on the Esprit.
The concept of conscience was isolated from its moral significance only starting from John Locke, in his Essai on the human understanding . Before him the word conscience forever the modern direction. In particular, Descartes almost never employs it in this direction, although it defines the Pensée as a conscience of the operations which occur in us (cf Principles of philosophy , 1644).
It is the translator of Locke, Pierre Coste, which introduced the modern Usage word conscience (thus in French, but the direction of the word consciousness was of course quite as new), associated with the idea of one oneself whose conscience expresses the identity.
Characteristics of the conscienceThe conscience presents certain characteristic features:
- the report/ratio with ego;
- subjectivity: the conscience that I have myself is distinct from that of others;
- the phenomenal structure;
- the availability, or Freedom of the conscience with regard to the objects of the world;
- the selectivity;
- intentionality: any conscience is conscience of something, is turned towards other thing that itself: “ the conscience does not have inside, it is not only the outside of itself. ” (Sartre).
- the unit or synthesis of the experiment;
The conscience is accompanied by memories, feelings, feelings and knowing that we report to an interior reality that we name Me. This conscience is called self-awareness , and is structured by the memory and the Entendement. It is in this direction a synthetic unit subjacent with all our voluntary behaviors . The elements that it contains, memories, feelings, judgments, depend on a cultural context, which makes self-awareness a changing and multiple empirical reality. The unit and the permanence of ego are thus not guaranteed by the unit of the conscience.
The Cartesian Cogito (" I thus think I suis") tends to express the state of consciousness of that which is expressed. In other words the subject, saying " Je" express a Conscience itself (Ego), in term of knowing (reasoning - Entendement). The " I pense" is interactive. It implies and requires, to be expressed, the Conscience of oneself. The conclusion to be could consequently appear redundant. However, it comes to express the state and the sensitive relation. " I thus think I suis" can thus decline itself in " I know that I feel because I am conscient".
The report/ratio in first nobodyIntrospection is the method of investigation of the conscience which generally comes the first to mind. It is a fact that we think of having an privileged access with our spirit, access whose conscience would be the expression. But the investigation of our mental life is not certainly sufficient to work out a theory of the wide conscience: “ one cannot, said Auguste Count , to put itself at the window to look at itself passing in the street ”. The subject cannot be indeed observed objectively since it is at the same time the object observed and the subject which observes, the more so as the conscience changes itself while being observed. All Psychologie would thus imply to examine the conscience with the third nobody, even if it should then be wondered how it is possible to observe the conscience of outside thus.
The Mirror stage (to recognize itself in a mirror) is often regarded as an essential attribute of the self-awareness, reserved for the human one. But if this stage is reached towards the age of one year and half-two years at the man, some tested Chimpanzé S, some others Grands monkeys, elephants, Dauphins, Perroquets and Pie S, are able to be recognized in a mirror, like showed it the Test of the mirror in ethology.
Current of conscienceThe idea of self-awareness poses the problem of the unit of a subject, one me or a conscience. One can very generally distinguish two types of assumptions:
- the conscience is the expression of an internal unit − the I of the I think ; this unit can be included/understood various manners:
- unit of an individual − the thinking subject, even “the heart” (for example at Descartes);
- unit transcendantale − the direction interns like conscience of my contents of conscience like belonging to me (Kant).
- the conscience is only one connection of aggregates of impressions (Hume) which can be described like a more or less coherent succession of accounts concerning a purely virtual subject − it me. Also, “ when my perceptions are isolated for a time, as by a quiet sleep, also a long time I am not any more aware of me and one can really say that I do not exist ” (Hume, Traité human nature , I). According to this thesis, me is different for it.
Conscience of the outside world
According to Husserl, which takes again a medieval concept, all Conscience is Conscience of something. That supposes that the Conscience is an effort of Attention which concentrates around an object. This concentration is structured by the experiment or categories a priori of the Entendement, structures which one sometimes regards as the bases of any knowledge of the outside world. In the modern Idéalisme the Conscience is thus the source and the origin of the Science and the Philosophie.
Phenomenal structure of the conscience
The question of knowing which relations the conscience maintains with reality in general, a phenomenologic description answers that this one has a structure space and temporal, structure which is an organization of the concepts which relate to our experiment of the world and ourselves as actors of this world.
It is the direction first word “conscience”, which one finds at Cicéron and Quintilien, and which in the French language remains without competition until the 17th century (see higher − section history).
The psychological conscience is often evoked like a light , the conscience Morale like a voice : if the first “lights us”, the second “speaks us”. The moral conscience indeed indicates the interior feeling of a standard of the good and evil which known as how to appreciate the value of the human conduits to us, whether they are as of ours or those of others. It is the demon which made condemn Socrate.
This “voice” of the conscience, which is made hear in the individual is however, according to Rousseau, the same one in any man. In spite of the diversity and the variability of manners and knowledge, it is universal: it is in us the call of nature , because “ though all our ideas come us from the outside, the feelings which appreciate them are with-inside us, and they is by them alone that we know suitability or unsuitableness who exists between us and the things which we must respect or flee ” (Emile, Livre IV). A such instinct, but however sign of our freedom, it never misleads us, for little that it is really listened to: “ Conscience! Conscience! divine instinct, immortal and celestial voice; guide assured an ignorant and limited, but intelligent and free being; infallible judge of the good and the evil, which make the man similar to God, it is you which make the excellence of its nature and the morality of its actions; without you I do not feel anything in me which raises me above the animals, that the unhappy privilege to mislay me of errors in errors using an understanding without rule and of a reason without principle ” (ibid).
Heard thus, said Alain, the conscience is “ the knowledge returning on itself and fascinating for center the human person itself, which is put in residence to decide and to be judged. This interior movement in is very thought; because that which is not said finally: “that do I have to think? ” cannot be known as thinker. The conscience is always implicitly moral; and immorality always consists in not wanting to think that one thinks, and to defer the interior judgment. One names quite unconscious those which do not raise any question of themselves with themselves ” ( Définitions , in Arts and the Gods ).
For Alain, there is thus no morals without deliberation, nor of deliberation without conscience. Often morals condemns, but when it approves, it is still at the end of an examination of conscience, of a return on oneself of the conscience, so that “ all morals consists in knowing spirit”, i.e. “ obliged absolutely ”: it is the conscience and it only which tells us our duty.
The question however remains to know which origin to allot to the moral conscience. Because so for Rousseau “ the acts of the conscience are not judgments, but feelings ” (ibid), it will not be thus any more for Kant, which will regard on the contrary the moral conscience as the expression of the practical Raison − and even less for Bergson, which will see in her the product of a social conditioning, or for Freud, which will locate it like the direct heiress of the Surmoi ( Faintness in the culture , VIII), authority however in major unconscious part.
Functions of the conscience
- Regulation of the behavior and interface with the outside world: according to the theory of the access consciousness , the state of consciousness is an access to information likely to be useful for the organization and to guide it. The conscience is thus a state independent at the same time of what that made be conscious of such or such thing and any idea of phenomenal structure.
- Function social
Theories of the conscienceQuestions of knowing what characterizes the conscience, which are its functions and which reports/ratios it maintains with itself do not prejudge necessarily an ontological statute which it is possible to give him. One can for example consider that the conscience is part of the reality which appears in state of consciousnesses while being more than one simple abstraction produced starting from the “conscious” adjective. This realistic thesis (within the meaning of medieval philosophy, to see Realism and Nominalism) does not have much any more of defenders nowadays. One of the reasons is that the descriptive investigation does not make necessary this kind of assumptions realistic. besides
the conscience studies by its Manifestation S. a school of thought, the Behaviorisme, proposes to study only the demonstrations themselves, without seeking to pose Hypothèse of a conscience subjacent and quite difficult to define.
- conscience from the materialist point of view: to see page of discussion.
- approach of Timothy Leary with its 8 circuits.
- Other cognitive theories (Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennett, Antonio Damasio, Gerald Edelman, Giulio Tononi).
and even of the physical approaches completely , like that of Jean-Pierre Changeux, according to which the Percept S and the Concept S constitute physical entities resulting in physical and logical connections of neurons, which it intends to highlight; it is already the case for the percepts.
See also: Science and conscience
Some questions to meditate
can one speak about Self-knowledge?
- What to know oneself?
- Which can one Know of oneself?
- What to have clear conscience?
- is it Enough to be conscious to know?
- can one prove the Existence conscience?
- does the man have to always follow his conscience?
- is the conscience a guide or a witness?
- is Any conscience necessarily moral?
- can one escape the requirements from the conscience?
- do we Somme conscious or have us to return to us conscious?
- can one say that the conscience isolates the Society man which surrounds it?
- Can one say that the conscience is in time or that time is in the conscience?
- can a conscious being not be responsible?
- is the conscience a knowledge?
- is the conscience a privilege?
- is the conscience a burden, a load?
- is the conscience an illusion?
- the conscience would not be it not the beginning of the madness?
- Toute awakening is it liberator?
- does the self-awareness suppose others?
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