Consciousness, its origin and essence. The problem of consciousness in the history of philosophy

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Consciousness, its origin and essence. The problem of consciousness in the history of philosophy
Consciousness, its origin and essence. The problem of consciousness in the history of philosophy

Consciousness should be considered as the second most broad philosophical category after matter. F. M. Dostoevsky was of the opinion that man is a mystery. His consciousness can be considered as mysterious as well. And today, when the individual has plunged into the many-sided secrets of the creation and development of the world, the secrets of his inner being, in particular, the secrets of his consciousness, are of public interest and still remain mysterious. In our article, we will analyze the concept of consciousness, its origin and essence.

General Questions

concept of consciousness in philosophy
concept of consciousness in philosophy

Today, the concept of consciousness in philosophy is interpreted in different ways, depending on how specific philosophers solve the key questions of philosophy, and first of all, the question related to the nature of the world. What is idealism? Objective idealism is capable of tearing consciousness away frommatter, nature and endow it with a supernatural essence (Hegel, Plato and others). Many subjective idealists, such as Avenarius, noted that the brain of the individual is not the abode of thinking.

Materialism believes that matter is primary, and behavior and consciousness are secondary categories. These are the so-called properties of matter. However, they can be understood in different ways. Hylozoism (from the Greek variant hyle - matter, zoe - life) said that it is advisable to consider consciousness as a property of all matter (D. Diderot, B. Spinoza and others). Panpsychism (from the Greek variant pan - everything, psuche - soul) also recognized the universal natural animation (K. Tsiolkovsky). If we argue from the point of view of modern and dialectical materialism, then we can conclude that the concept of consciousness in philosophy involves defining it as a function of the brain, a reflection of the outside world.

Elements of Consciousness

what is idealism
what is idealism

In the process of studying consciousness, its origin and essence, it is advisable to touch on the issue of its structure. Consciousness is formed from sensory images of objects that are a representation or sensation and therefore have meaning and meaning. In addition, an element of consciousness is knowledge as a set of sensations that are imprinted in memory. And finally, generalizations created as a result of the highest mental activity, language and thinking.

It is interesting to note that since ancient times, thinkers have been quite intensely trying to find the solution to the mystery associated with the phenomenon of consciousness. Thus, the philosophy of the origin andthe essence of consciousness even then occupied the most important position in the still emerging science. For many centuries, heated debates about the essence of the category and the possibilities of its cognition have not ceased. Theologians viewed consciousness as an instantaneous spark of the majestic fire of the divine mind. It is worth noting that the idealists defended the idea associated with the primacy of consciousness over matter. They tore consciousness out of the objective relationships of the real world and considered it as an independent and creative essence of being. Objective idealists noted that human consciousness is something primordial: not only can it not be explained by what exists outside of it, it itself is called upon to interpret all the actions and phenomena that take place in history, nature, and the behavior of all individuals separately. Consciousness is recognized as the only reliable reality only by supporters of objective idealism.

To know, characterize, define consciousness, its essence and origin is very difficult. The fact is that it does not exist as a separate object or thing. That is why the problem of consciousness in the history of philosophy is still considered an essential mystery. It is inexhaustible.

The problem of consciousness in the history of philosophy

consciousness is primary
consciousness is primary

This problem has always served as an object of close attention of philosophers, since the recognition of the role and place of man in the world, as well as the specifics of relations with the reality surrounding him, presupposes the determination of the roots of human consciousness. It should be noted that for philosophical science the named problem is important andfor the reason that specific approaches to the issue related to the essence, origin and development of human consciousness, as well as the nature of its relationship directly to being, affect the original methodological and worldview settings of any of the current philosophical trends. Naturally, these approaches are different, but in essence, in any case, they deal with the same problem. We are talking about the analysis of consciousness, which is considered as a specifically social form of management and regulation of the interaction of the individual with reality. This form is characterized primarily by the identification of the individual as a kind of reality, as well as a bearer of special methods of interaction with everything around him, which includes his management.

Such an understanding of consciousness, its origin, essence implies an extremely wide range of issues, which is the subject of research not only in philosophical science, but also in special natural and humanitarian areas: psychology, sociology, pedagogy, linguistics, physiology of higher nervous activity. Today, it is important to include semiotics, computer science and cybernetics in this list. Consideration of some aspects of the category of consciousness within the framework of the presented disciplines, one way or another, is based on a specific philosophical and worldview position associated with the interpretation of consciousness. However, the creation and subsequent development of scientific research of a special plan stimulates the formation and deepening of the directly philosophical problems of consciousness.

For example, developmentInformatics, the development of "thinking" machines and the related process of computerization of social activity forced us, on the other hand, to consider the issue related to the essence of consciousness, specific human capabilities in the activity of consciousness, optimal ways of interaction of the individual and his consciousness with modern computer technologies. Currently topical and rather acute issues of the modern development of society, the interaction of the individual and technology, the relationship between nature and scientific and technological progress, aspects of communication, education of people - all the problems of social practice that take place in modern times turn out to be organically connected with the study of the category of consciousness.

Relation of consciousness to human being

the essence of consciousness and its connection with the unconscious
the essence of consciousness and its connection with the unconscious

The most important in modern science about the origin and essence of consciousness has always been and remains the question of the relationship of the consciousness of the individual to his being, of the inclusion of a person who has consciousness in the world, of the responsibility that consciousness implies in relation to the individual, about opportunities that are provided to a person from the side of consciousness. It is known that the activity of a practically transformative nature, as a specific form of social attitude to the world, implies as its prerequisite the creation of an "ideal plan" of concrete real activity. It is worth noting that human existence is somehow closely connected with consciousness. It is as if "permeated" by him. In short, cannot existhuman existence apart from consciousness, in other words, regardless of its forms. It is quite another thing that the actual existence of a person, his relationship with the surrounding natural and social reality is a broader system, within which the category of consciousness is considered a specific condition, prerequisite, means, "mechanism" for inscribing an individual into the general system of being.

In the context of social activity, which should be interpreted as an integral system, consciousness acts as its necessary condition, element, prerequisite. So, if we proceed from the definition of human reality as a whole, then the secondary nature of the consciousness of the individual in relation to social being is considered the secondary nature of the element with respect to the system that includes it and encompasses it. Ideal work plans developed by consciousness, current projects and programs precede activity, but their implementation exposes the newest "non-programmed" layers of reality, opens up a fundamentally new texture of being that goes beyond the boundaries of the original conscious attitudes. In this sense, our being constantly goes beyond the programs of action. It turns out to be much richer than the content of the initial representations of consciousness.

Such an expansion of the so-called "existential horizon" is carried out in an activity that is stimulated and directed by consciousness and soul. If we proceed from the organic inclusion of the individual in the integrity of living and inanimate nature, then the category under consideration acts as a propertyhighly organized matter. Thus, hence the need to trace the origins of the consciousness of the genetic plan in the varieties of the organization of matter that precede the individual in the process of evolution becomes urgent.

Approach prerequisite

In the process of considering the essence of consciousness and its connection with the unconscious, it is worth noting that the most important prerequisite for the approach indicated above is the analysis of the varieties of the relationship of all living things to the environment, within which appropriate behavioral regulators appear as their "servicing mechanisms". The development of the latter in any case presupposes the emergence of bodily organs. Thanks to them, the processes of consciousness and psyche are carried out. We are talking about the nervous system and its most highly organized department - the brain. However, the most significant factor in the development of these bodily organs is considered to be the function necessary for a full human life, for which the above organs work. The individual is conscious through the brain, but consciousness is not in itself a function of the brain. Rather, it refers to a certain, specific type of relationship of a socially developed person to the world.

If we take into account this premise, then we cannot say that consciousness is primary. Initially, it acts as a public product. The category appears and develops in the joint work of individuals, in the process of their communication and work. Being involved in such processes, people are able to develop appropriate ideas, norms, attitudes, which together with their coloring in emotional termsthe content of consciousness, considered as a specific form of reflection of reality. This content is fixed in the individual psyche.

General sense

what is dualism
what is dualism

We have covered the basic concepts of the origin and essence of consciousness. In the broad sense of the word, it is expedient to associate with it the idea of self-consciousness. It must be borne in mind that the development of the most complex forms of self-consciousness takes place at rather late stages in the history of social consciousness, where self-consciousness is endowed with a certain independence. Nevertheless, it is possible to understand its origin only on the basis of considering the essence of the category as a whole.

Idealism: concept and essence

What is idealism? The category of substance in philosophical science is used to designate those moments that exist due to itself, but in no case due to something else. If consciousness is accepted as a substance, then idealism appears. This doctrine fully substantiates the thesis that the basis of everything that exists in the Universe is based on ideas, as Plato taught or as Leibniz proclaimed, that everything consists of monads, which are atoms, but not material, but having a specific degreeconsciousness. It is worth noting that in this case, matter is interpreted either as a kind of existence dependent on consciousness, or as a special kind of existence of the spirit, that is, its own creation. From this it is clear what the human soul is in idealism.

Previously, there was also a variant of idealism of the subjective type. This, if we talk about the extreme form, was defended by the philosopher of the early 18th century from Britain, J. Berkeley. He proved that everything around us is only a collection of our perceptions. This perception is the only thing that a person can know. In this case, the bodies, together with the properties inherent in them, various kinds of relationships, were interpreted as complexes of sensations.

What is dualism?

the problem of consciousness in the history of philosophy
the problem of consciousness in the history of philosophy

There are teachings related to two substances. They argue that the soul and body, consciousness and matter are two fundamentally different, and independent of each other, varieties of being. It's like two independently developing substances. This position is called dualism. It should be noted that it is closest to human common sense. As a rule, we are sure that we have both a body and a consciousness; and that although they somehow agree with each other, the distinctive features of thoughts, feelings, and such material things as tables or stones are too large, if we consider objects in relation to each other, to include them in one kind of being. This dilution to the opposite of the conscious and the material is given quite easily, howeverless then in dualism there is a basic and essentially insoluble question, consisting in explaining how matter and consciousness, so different in characteristics, are capable of mutually coherent relationships. After all, as substantial principles, in other words, independent principles, they, in accordance with the categorical status given to them, cannot influence each other and interact in one way or another. Dualistic interpretations of the relationship between matter and consciousness are forced either to allow this interaction in some situations, or to imply a pre-established harmony in a previously agreed change in matter and spirit.

Consciousness and thinking

So, we have figured out what dualism is. Further, it is advisable to move on to the issue of consciousness and thinking, the relationship and interdependence of categories.

what is the human soul
what is the human soul

Under thinking, one should consider the process of reflection in the human mind of the essence of things, relationships and regular connections that arise between phenomena or objects of reality. During the thought process, the individual interprets the objective world in a different way than in the processes of imagination and perception. In public representations, the phenomena of the external plane are reflected exactly as they affect the senses: in forms, colors, the movement of objects, and so on. When an individual thinks about certain phenomena or objects, he draws in his own mind not these external characteristics, but directly the essence of objects, their mutual relations and connections.

The essence of absolutely anyof an objective phenomenon is known only when it is considered in organic connection with others. Dialectical materialism interprets social life and nature not as a random collection of separate phenomena independent of each other, but as one whole, where all components are organically interconnected. They condition each other and develop in close dependence. In such mutual conditionality and connection, the essence of the object, the laws of its existence are manifested.

When perceiving, for example, a tree, an individual, reflecting in his own mind the trunk, leaves, branches and other parts and properties of this particular object, perceives this object in isolation from others. He admires its shape, bizarre curves, freshness of green leaves.

Another way is the thought process. In an effort to understand the key laws of the existence of this phenomenon, to penetrate into its meaning, a person necessarily reflects in his mind, including the relationship of this object with other phenomena and objects. It is impossible to understand the essence of a tree if you do not determine what role the chemical composition of the soil, air, moisture, sunlight, and so on play for it. Only the reflection of these relations and connections allows an individual to understand the function of the leaves and roots of a tree, as well as the work that they perform in the circulation of substances in the living world.

Instead of a conclusion

So, we have considered the category of consciousness and its main aspects. Dismantled the concept of origin and essence. Pointed to the relationship with the thought process. We have determined what the human soul is and why it hasattitude, including to the material, is in contact with it.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the thought of a particular subject simultaneously leads to the following consequences: reflection of this phenomenon in its essence, in other words, in its interdependence and relationships with other objects; thought about this phenomenon in general, and not in any particular form.

One condition is important for the emergence and subsequent development of consciousness. It's about human society. Practical activity shows that consciousness exists only where a person exists and develops. For it to appear, reflection objects are needed.

From all the material it is advisable to draw some conclusions. Consciousness is the highest form of reflection of reality, peculiar only to man. The category is associated with articulate speech, abstract concepts, logical generalizations. Knowledge is considered to be the “core” of consciousness, the method of its existence. Its formation is associated with the emergence of labor. The need for the latter in the process of communication predetermined the relevance of the language. Labor and language have decisively influenced the formation of human consciousness.