~ 29 August 2004 ~

Consciousness

In his essay “The Mind,” Jonathan Edwards offers the following definition of consciousness:

CONSCIOUSNESS is the mind’s perceiving what is in itself—ideas, actions, passions, and every thing that is there perceptible. It is a sort of feeling within itself. The mind feels when it thinks; so it feels when it discerns, feels when it loves, and feels when it hates.

Having taken a few too many personality tests recently, I appreciate this wholistic view of the mind. Most personality tests attempt to nicely categorize what is going on in our minds. A test that tells us that we’re say, an INTJ—may indeed be pretty close to reality. Edwards, however, shows us that there is a much better gauge of our own minds—our own minds themselves!

The rub, of course, is that we humans are remarkably lazy when it comes to introspection. Our minds typically only want to “feel” that which will not disturb the rest of our consciousness. Calvin’s notion that “without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God” shows us the ultimate end of such a lack of mental feeing. How greatly would our lives be affected if we were conscious of all the depths of our own minds?

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