Tag Archives: Consciousness

Hegel vs. Freud

Both Hegel and Freud venture to explain the consciousness and how we interpret our surroundings. In Freud’s piece, An Outline of Psycho-Analysis, he explains how we interact with internal and external events in terms of the id, ego, and super ego, while Hegel explains his ideas in Sense Certainty using the all-excompassing ‘I’.  Continue reading

The Implications of “Here”

“‘Here’ itself does not vanish; on the contrary, it abides constant in the vanishing of the house, the tree, etc., and is indifferently house or tree. Again, therefore, the ‘This’ shows itself to be a mediated simplicity, or a universality” (61).

I think that Hegel’s theory concerning “Here” is absolutely fascinating for its implications with regards to “universality” and “consciousness.” Hegel claims that “Here” is a term used to describe the placement or position in which a certain object resides. The word is constant. Just because its fixation changes, such as shifting from defining the placement of a dog to the placement of a cat, does not mean that “Here” “vanishes,” or takes on another meaning. It merely shifts focus from one object to another.

The theory of “Here” is imperative in the explanation of Hegel’s belief in universality, or the essence of a thing. Although “Here” can be used to describe many different objects, its meaning does not change based off of its fixation. With whatever object it references, “Here” refers to the placement of position of a thing not the thing in which is describes. Therefore, “Here” in itself never disappears or changes in meaning; rather, its focus shifts depending on the way in which it is being used to define the placement of an object. Its essence is never transformed.

The theories of “Here” and “universality” all tie into Hegel’s overarching theme of consciousness or cognitive awareness. As humans, we are constantly using our senses to gain knowledge and data from our environment. In order to quantify and then analyze such information, we need markers such as “This” and “Here.” These terms allow us to determine the meaning of and interpret the details our senses recognize. Such techniques provide us with the ability to ascertain the essence of the things we run into during our travels so that we may be cognitively aware of the environment surrounding and our placement in such an environment. Therefore, “Here” serves not only as a way in which to define the position of objects near and around us but also as a facilitator of the discovery of our own placement in the world.

Consciousness and the Law

In The Philosophical Works and Selected Correspondence of John Locke, Lock discuss how someone perceives one’s self and the idea of “consciousness” and how it relates to one’s existence. One unique aspect of consciousness that Locke discusses is the idea that no matter what some one looks like, or what condition he or she is in, that person is still the same person.  Continue reading

Exploring the Foundation of Identity

“For in them the variation of great parcels of matter alters not the identity: An oak growing from a plant to a great tree, and then lopped, is still the same oak; and a colt grown up to a horse, sometimes fat, sometimes lean, is all the while the same horse: Though in both these cases, there may be a manifest change of the parts; so that truly they are not either of them the same masses of matter, though they be truly one of them the same oak, and the other the same horse. The reason whereof is, that in these two cases, a mass of matter, and a living body, identity is not applied to the same thing” (Chapter 27, paragraph 3).

Many authors, especially philosophers, turn to beautiful metaphors to describe their ideas to readers. Here, Locke follows this ancient tradition, furthering his claim that variation does not alter identity through the example of the development of an oak tree and maturation of a horse.

I found these metaphors to be not only eloquent and engaging but also great illustrations of his assertion. In order to further his point that “variation” in “matter alters not the identity,” he describes an oak starting out as a small shoot and then growing into a “great tree,” showing that just because the shape of the tree changes, its element is not transformed: it is still composed of wood and undergoes the process of photosynthesis in order to survive.

Furthermore, he writes of how when a colt matures to a horse, growing either “fat” or “lean,” it is still “the same horse” by nature. Its physical attributes does not change the fact that larger horses and skinnier horses are still the same horse, just with different characteristics, such as either an enlarged or shrunken frame. The horses’ “matter,” or what makes the horses horses never changes.

As “parts” change, the object changes into a different form of that same object; however, its identity does not change in relation to these so-called “great parcels of matter.” According to Locke, its identity remains the same. Here, he writes that, in the sake of using the tree metaphor, as long as the tree has the ability to do its same biological functions through appendages that make it a tree, such as roots, trunk, and branches, in the furthering of its life as an organism, the tree continues to exist as one and the same tree, despite the changes in its constituent matter. He, therefore, concludes that even though living organisms constantly lose and gain portions of their matter through process of growth and aging, we are not inclined to believe that they have changed into different creatures. The identity of organisms is based on their ability to sustain the biological processes that keep them alive. In conclusion, Locke believes that identity is founded upon this principle, and that the only time such identity shifts is when something separates from the original organism and gains a life of its own.