Self-consciousness





1. Our consciousness is not merely a knowledge of many individual things,

the possession of concrete and abstract, particular or general conceptions

and ideas, the cherishing of sensations, feelings and the like. We not

only know, but we know that we know, and we can ponder in thought over the

very fact that we are able thus to reflect in thought. Thought can turn

its attention upon itself, can establish that it takes place, and how it

runs its course, can reflect upon the forms in which it expresses itself,

its powers, its laws, possibilities, and limits, and can ponder over the

general nature of thought and the contingent individual nature of the

particular thinking subject. (The very possibility and preliminary

condition of moral freedom is implied in this.) How naturalism is to do

justice to this fact it is not easy to see. Even if it were possible that

the mental content was gained through mere experience, that comparisons,

syntheses, and abstractions were formed simply according to the laws of

association, and that these were sublimed and refined to general ideas,

and could grow into axioms of logic and of geometry, or crystallise into

necessary and axiomatic principles--none of which can happen--yet it would

always be a knowledge of something. But how this something could be given

to itself remains undiscoverable. The soul is a tabula rasa and a mere

mirror, says this theory. But it would still require to show how the

silver layer behind the mirror began to see itself in the mirror.





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