Consciousness: Philosophical Definition

mind philosophy

In antiquity, consciousness did not exist: only the “nous,” the knowing mind, had a value. It is the philosophical modernity that gave about a consciousness. Descartes laid as the foundation of knowledge for consciousness has resisted the methodical doubt (see The Metaphysics of Descartes). Kant, Hegel, Sartre taking on board this achievement of modern philosophy.

General Definitions:

– From Latin conscientia: knowledge shared with another

– Psychological Meaning: knowledge, intuition or feeling that a subject has of himself to statements and actions

– Moral Sense: ability to make moral judgments about good and evil

Specific definitions of philosophers:

Descartes: “My own thought or consciousness” (Discourse on Method)

Rousseau: “Conscience,” Conscience, “Instinct divine, immortal and celestial voice guide assured of an ignorant and narrow-minded, but intelligent and free; infallible judge of good and evil, which makes man like God, it ‘ is you who make the excellence of its nature and morality of his actions “(Emile or Education)

Kant: “Consciousness is just another representation of a representation is in me” (Critique of Pure Reason)

Kant: “Conscience is the practical reason representing the man’s duty to acquit or convict him in each case where applicable law” (Critique of Practical Reason)

Hegel: “Man is a being endowed with consciousness and thinking, that is to say, what it is, whatever its way of being, he is a being for itself” ( Phenomenology of Spirit)

Bergson: “Consciousness is the power of choice” (Creative Evolution)

Alain: “Conscience is the knowledge back upon itself” (Definitions)

Sartre: “Conscience is the refusal to be substance” (Being and Nothingness)

Rabelais: “Science without conscience is but ruin of the soul” (Panagruel)

Dante: “Provided that my conscience does not reproach me do, I am willing to submit to the will of fortune” (The Divine Comedy)


Cite this article as: Tim, "Consciousness: Philosophical Definition, May 26, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 26, 2012,

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