Concept and What is: Consciousness

William James, American psychologist (1842-1910), stated that the psychology is the science of mental life, covering both their phenomena as their conditions. With regard to the object of study, the keywords are phenomena and conditions. In relation to the phenomena, he meant that the object of study of psychology should be sought in immediate experience. Already in relation to the conditions, referred to the importance of the body, especially the brain, mental life.

According to James, physical substructures of consciousness form a basic part of psychology. Consciousness must be examined in its natural environment, which is the physical human being. This notion of biological action of the brain about consciousness is an exclusive feature of the approach of psychology of James. He rebelled against the artificiality and the narrowness of the position of Wundt. Believed were conscious experiences simply experiences conscious and not groups or sets of elements. The discovery of minimum elements of consciousness, through the introspective analysis, showed that they existed independently of a trained observer. Psychologists carry out readings of experience based on its systematic position and with your point of view.

James argued that the fact some people trained to be able to analyze their conscious experiences in a psychology lab, doesn't mean that the elements for her reported are present in the consciousness of anyone exposed to the same experience. It said that the simple sensations do not exist in conscious experience, being merely the result of some process of inference or abstraction, where our mind generates a discriminating attention, choosing within our repertoire of experiences, the objects and relationships needed to elaborate a sensation.

He created the expression stream of consciousness, to explain the idea that mental life consists of a unit in a total experience that changes. Consciousness is a constant flux and any attempt to split it into separate temporarily phases can distort it.

How consciousness is constantly changing, it is not possible to experience the same thought or e same feeling more than once. One can think of an object or stimulus on more than one occasion, but the thoughts are not identical in every situation. Are different due to the experiences involved. Thus, consciousness is defined as cumulative and non-recurring.

The mind is also continuous. There is no abrupt disruption in the stream of consciousness. It is possible to notice lapses of time, for example, when we are sleepy, but when we are awake, we have no difficulty of establishing relationships with our stream of consciousness in progress. The mind is selective: as we are able to pay attention only to a part of the universe of our experiences, she chooses between the various stimuli that is exposed. The mind filters experiences, combines and divides other, selects and rejects others. The main selection criterion is the relevancy-the mind selects the relevant stimuli in such a way that allows the consciousness operate so logical, thus creating a series of ideas that may result in a rational conclusion.

James pointed out, too, the function or purpose of consciousness. Believed that she played some biological function, otherwise I wouldn't have survived long. The function of consciousness and provide the ability to adapt to the environment, allowing us to choose. To develop this idea, James made distinction between choice and habit; believed that they were involuntary habits and unaware. When we are facing a new problem and we have to choose a way to confront him, consciousness enters into the scene.

James stated that it is obvious and palpable that our mental state is never exactly the same. Every thought produced by means of a particular fact is unique and has only a certain similarity with the other thoughts coming from the same fact. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus (544 to 484 BC) already pronounced that way in his celebrated phrase: "no one can enter the same river twice", wanting to say that, from the first experience entering the River, the person is no longer the same, because this experience brought her sensations before I tried and the waters in which bathed, moved on and now are other waters that pass by this river.

As psychology deals with the personal and immediate consciousness, introspection (back the attention inside of themselves) should be your basic method. James had science of the hardships of introspection and accept even considering an imperfect method of observation. However, he believed in the possibility of a more thorough check of the results produced by the comparison of the obtained by various observers disputes.
Published for educational purposes
Culture and Science

Recommended content