1. states of consciousness introPresentation Transcript
States of Consciousness
WHAT IS CONSCIOUSNESS?
Consciousness refers to your individual awareness of your unique thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations and environment.
Your conscious experiences are constantly shifting and changing depending on your attention.
For example, in one moment you may be focused on reading this slide.
Your consciousness may then shift to the memory of a conversation you had earlier with a classmate.
Next, you might notice how uncomfortable your chair is or maybe you are mentally planning dinner.
This ever-shifting stream of thoughts can change dramatically from one moment to the next, but your experience of it seems smooth and effortless.
The conscious experience was one of the first topics studied by early psychologists.
Structuralists used a process known as introspection to analyse and report conscious sensations, thoughts, and experiences .
We will now complete ‘Try it Yourself’ 1.1 on exploring your own consciousness...
French philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) (pronounced ‘Day-Cart’ ) and American psychologist William James (1842–1910) were two highly articulate and influential people who wrote about consciousness. Their work had a profound influence on psychology and is still discussed today.
Cogito Ergo Sum
Descartes equated the mind with consciousness. The mind creates our real experience of the world and it interacts with our body.
In order to study the mind, one’s thoughts and feelings (‘I think’) must be observed because they make us exist in our world (‘therefore I am’ ).
American psychologist William James compared consciousness to a stream; unbroken and continuous despite constant shifts and changes.
Key Terms and Ideas
For the exam, you must know definitions for the following key terms and concepts and be able to relate them to an example where appropriate.
For the exam, you must know:
> the reason why consciousness is a psychological construct.
> examples of consciousness as a psychological constructs (namely the work of Descartes and James)
> the difference between monism (especially materialistic monism) and dualism
> the difference between structuralism and functionalism .
Define consciousness with reference to internal and external factors
In what ways is consciousness personal, subjective, continuous and changing?
How does Descarte describe consciousness? To what extent is his view different from contemporary psychological descriptions? Explain your answer.
How does James describe consciousness? To what extent is his view different from contemporary psychological descriptions? Explain your answer.
In what ways are Descarte and James’ views similar/different.