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Consciousness and the World$
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Brian O'Shaughnessy

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199256721.001.0001

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Self‐Consciousness and Self‐Knowledge

Self‐Consciousness and Self‐Knowledge

(p.102) 3 Self‐Consciousness and Self‐Knowledge
Consciousness and the World

Brian O'Shaughnessy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Self‐awareness—knowledge of self and of one's mental states—is of central importance in ensuring the properties constitutive of consciousness in rational beings. A modified Cartesian thesis is defended: that a well‐formed state of self‐conscious wakefulness is such that the present contents of that mind must be insightfully given to its owner. This is demonstrated through investigating four different states in which insight is diminished and consciousness absent or impaired: sleep, trance, intoxication, and psychosis. These states are analytically explored, and the thesis proven in each case. It emerges that the very items that constitute consciousness in unthinking animals, do the same in thinking animals, only in a more developed form. The differentia of the state of self‐conscious wakefulness is analysed into the co‐presence of a syndrome of mutually necessitating properties : self‐knowledge, rationality, freedom, thinking, etc. When this syndrome is conjoined with the availability of the perceptual attention, together with experience, the state is fully constituted. This is the answer to the fundamental question: what is consciousness?

Keywords:   Cartesianism, consciousness, Descartes, freedom, intoxication, psychosis, rationality, self‐consciousness, self‐knowledge, trance

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