Thomas Kuhn (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
First, we discuss Lakatos's life in relation to his works. . Descartes' theory of the vortices, is fairly rational if we take it as an attempt (in the . a thesis entitled “On the Sociology of Concept Formation in the Natural Sciences”. In a certain sense, art, like philosophy, reflects reality in its relation to man, and aims, ideals, joys and sufferings, a world that is part of the vortex of our existence. His philosophical, sociological and economic works are studded with apt of a view of the world, a true and large-scale assessment of events, a rational. The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States Imani Perry according to the findings in these cognitive and sociological research studies, only of race neutrality and rational basis but also of the relationship between This us-them vortex doesn't have to be based in broad racial categories in.
The problematic nature of translation arises from two assumptions. First, as we have seen, Kuhn assumes that meaning is locally holistic. A change in the meaning of one part of the lexical structure will result in a change to all its parts.
This would rule out preservation of the translatability of taxonomies by redefining the changed part in terms of the unchanged part. This rules out the possibility of an all-encompassing taxonomy that incorporates both the original and the changed taxonomies. Ian Hacking relates this to the world-change thesis: Kuhn continued to develop his conceptual approach to incommensurability.
At the time of his death he had made considerable progress on a book in which he related incommensurability to issues in developmental psychology and concept acquisition. During the s his focus was primarily on the early theory of heat and the work of Sadie Carnot.
However, his first book concerned the Copernican revolution in planetary astronomy First, he demonstrated that Aristotelian science was genuine science and that those working within that tradition, in particular those working on Ptolemaic astronomy, were engaged in an entirely reasonable and recognizably scientific project.
Secondly, Kuhn showed that Copernicus was himself far more indebted to that tradition than had typically been recognized. Thus the popular view that Copernicus was a modern scientist who overthrew an unscientific and long-outmoded viewpoint is mistaken both by exaggerating the difference between Copernicus and the Ptolemaic astronomers and in underestimating the scientific credentials of work carried out before Copernicus. This mistaken view—a product of the distortion caused by our current state of knowledge—can be rectified only by seeing the activities of Copernicus and his predecessors in the light of the puzzles presented to them by tradition that they inevitably had to work with.
According to classical physics a particle could possess any energy in a continuous range and if it changes energy it does so in a continuous fashion, possessing at some point in time every energy between the initial and final energy states. Modern quantum theory denies both these classical principles.
Energy is quantised—a particle may possess only one of a set of discrete energies. However, argued Kuhn, Planck did not have in mind a genuine physical discontinuity of energies untilwhich is after Albert Einstein and Paul Ehrenfest had themselves emphasized it in —6. Many readers were surprised not to find mention of paradigms or incommensurability.
Indeed the whole essay may be seen as a demonstration of an incommensurability between the mature quantum theory and the early quantum theory of Planck which was still rooted in classical statistical physics. Kuhn argues that the modern quantum concept was introduced first not by Planck but by Einstein.
Furthermore, this fact is hidden both by the continued use of the same term and by the same distortion of history that has affected our conception of Ptolemy and Copernicus. At the same time other developments in philosophy opened up new avenues for criticism.
That criticism has largely focussed on two areas. In particular paradigms and their theories are not questioned and not changed in normal science whereas they are questioned and are changed in revolutionary science. Thus a revolution is, by definition revisionary, and normal science is not as regards paradigms. Furthermore, normal science does not suffer from the conceptual discontinuities that lead to incommensurability whereas revolutions do.
This picture has been questioned for its accuracy. Kuhn could reply that such revisions are not revisions to the paradigm but to the non-paradigm puzzle-solutions provided by normal science. But that in turn requires a clear distinction between paradigmatic and non-paradigmatic components of science, a distinction that, arguably, Kuhn has not supplied in any detail.
At the same time, by making revisionary change a necessary condition of revolutionary science, Kuhn ignores important discoveries and developments that are widely regarded as revolutionary, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and the revolution in molecular biology. The double-helical structure of DNA was not expected but immediately suggested a mechanism for the duplication of genetic information e.
For a realist conception of scientific progress also wishes to assert that, by and large, later science improves on earlier science, in particular by approaching closer to the truth. If we do take theories to be potential descriptions of the world, involving reference to worldly entities, kind, and properties, then the problems raised by incommensurability largely evaporate. For truth and nearness to the truth depend only on reference and not on sense.
Two terms can differ in sense yet share the same reference, and correspondingly two sentences may relate to one another as regards truth without their sharing terms with the same sense. And so even if we retain a holism about the sense of theoretical terms and allow that revolutions lead to shifts in sense, there is no direct inference from this to a shift in reference.
Consequently, there is no inference to the inadmissibility of the comparison of theories with respect to their truth-nearness. While this referentialist response to the incommensurability thesis was initially framed in Fregean terms Schefflerit received further impetus from the work of Kripke and Putnam bwhich argued that reference could be achieved without anything akin to Fregean sense and that the natural kind terms of science exemplified this sense-free reference. In particular, causal theories of reference permit continuity of reference even through fairly radical theoretical change.
They do not guarantee continuity in reference, and changes in reference can occur on some causal theories, e. Arguing that they do occur would require more, however, than merely pointing to a change in theory. Rather, it seems, cases of reference change must be identified and argued for on a case by case basis. The simple causal theory of reference does have its problems, such as explaining the referential mechanism of empty theoretical terms e.
Causal-descriptive theories which allow for a descriptive component tackle such problems while retaining the key idea that referential continuity is possible despite radical theory change KroonSankey Of course, the referentialist response shows only that reference can be retained, not that it must be.
Consequently it is only a partial defence of realism against semantic incommensurability. A further component of the defence of realism against incommensurability must be an epistemic one.
For referentialism shows that a term can retain reference and hence that the relevant theories may be such that the later constitutes a better approximation to the truth than the earlier.
Nonetheless it may not be possible for philosophers or others to know that there has been such progress. Methodological incommensurability in particular seems to threaten the possibility of this knowledge. However, we never are able to escape from our current perspective.
A realist response to this kind of incommensurability may appeal to externalist or naturalized epistemology. So long as the method has an appropriate kind of reliability it can generate knowledge.
Contrary to the internalist view characteristic of the positivists and, it appears, shared by Kuhn the reliability of a method does not need to be one that must be evaluable independently of any particular scientific perspective.
It is not the case, for example, that the reliability of a method used in science must be justifiable by a priori means. Thus the methods developed in one era may indeed generate knowledge, including knowledge that some previous era got certain matters wrong, or right but only to a certain degree.
A naturalized epistemology may add that science itself is in the business of investigating and developing methods. As science develops we would expect its methods to change and develop also. The social sciences in particular took up Kuhn with enthusiasm. There are primarily two reasons for this.
The status as genuine sciences of what we now call the social and human sciences has widely been held in doubt. Such disciplines lack the remarkable track record of established natural sciences and seem to differ also in the methods they employ.
More specifically they fail by pre-Kuhnian philosophical criteria of sciencehood. On the one hand, positivists required of a science that it should be verifiable by reference to its predictive successes. Yet psychoanalysis, sociology and even economics have difficulty in making precise predictions at all, let alone ones that provide for clear confirmation or unambiguous refutation.
For example, Popper famously complained that psychoanalysis could not be scientific because it resists falsification. Kuhn himself did not especially promote such extensions of his views, and indeed cast doubt upon them. He denied that psychoanalysis is a science and argued that there are reasons why some fields within the social sciences could not sustain extended periods of puzzle-solving normal science b. Although, he says, the natural sciences involve interpretation just as human and social sciences do, one difference is that hermeneutic re-interpretation, the search for new and deeper intepretations, is the essence of many social scientific enterprises.
This contrasts with the natural sciences where an established and unchanging interpretation e. Re-intepretation is the result of a scientific revolution and is typically resisted rather than actively sought. Another reason why regular reinterpretation is part of the human sciences and not the natural sciences is that social and political systems are themselves changing in ways that call for new interpretations, whereas the subject matter of the natural sciences is constant in the relevant respects, permitting a puzzle-solving tradition as well as a standing source of revolution-generating anomalies.
Their judgments are nonetheless tightly constrained during normal science by the example of the guiding paradigm. During a revolution they are released from these constraints though not completely. Consequently there is a gap left for other factors to explain scientific judgments. Later Kuhn repeated the point, with the additional examples of German Romanticism, which disposed certain scientists to recognize and accept energy conservation, and British social thought which enabled acceptance of Darwinism c, Such suggestions were taken up as providing an opportunity for a new kind of study of science, showing how social and political factors external to science influence the outcome of scientific debates.
Pickering this influence is taken to be central, not marginal, and to extend to the very content of accepted theories. Feminists and social theorists e. Furthermore, the fact that Kuhn identified values as what guide judgment opens up the possibility that scientists ought to employ different values, as has been argued by feminist and post-colonial writers e.
Kuhn himself, however, showed only limited sympathy for such developments. External history of science seeks causes of scientific change in social, political, religious and other developments of science.
First, the five values Kuhn ascribes to all science are in his view constitutive of science. An enterprise could have different values but it would not be science c, ; Secondly, when a scientist is influenced by individual or other factors in applying these values or in coming to a judgment when these values are not decisive, those influencing factors will typically themselves come from within science especially in modern, professionalized science.
Personality may play a role in the acceptance of a theory, because, for example, one scientist is more risk-averse than another c, —but that is still a relationship to the scientific evidence. Even when reputation plays a part, it is typically scientific reputation that encourages the community to back the opinion of an eminent scientist. Thirdly, in a large community such variable factors will tend to cancel out. Kuhn supposes that individual differences are normally distributed and that a judgment corresponding to the mean of the distribution will also correspond to the judgment that would, hypothetically, be demanded by the rules of scientific method, as traditionally conceived c, This corresponds to the Kantian distinction between noumena and phenomena.
The important difference between Kant and Kuhn is that Kuhn takes the general form of phenomena not to be fixed but changeable. One the one hand work on conceptual structures can help understand what might be correct in the incommensurability thesis Nersessian Kuhn articulates a view according to which the extension of a concept is determined by similarity to a set of exemplary cases rather than by an intension.
On the other hand, the psychology of analogical thinking and cognitive habits may also inform our understanding of the concept of a paradigm.
Kuhn, however, failed to develop the paradigm concept in his later work beyond an early application of its semantic aspects to the explanation of incommensurability. Nonetheless, other philosophers, principally Howard Margolishave developed the idea that habits of mind formed by training with paradigms-as-exemplars are an important component in understanding the nature of scientific development. As explained by Nickles b and Birdthis is borne out by recent work by psychologists on model-based and analogical thinking.
Unquestionably he was one of the most influential philosophers and historians of science of the twentieth century. His most obvious achievement was to have been a major force in bringing about the final demise of logical positivism. Nonetheless, there is no characteristically Kuhnian school that carries on his positive work. It is as if he himself brought about a revolution but did not supply the replacement paradigm.
But as far as the history of science and science studies more generally are concerned, Kuhn repudiated at least the more radical developments made in his name. Turning to the philosophy of science, it was clear by the end of the s that the centreground was now occupied by a new realism, one that took on board lessons from general philosophy of language and epistemology, in particular referentialist semantics and a belief in the possibility of objective knowledge and justification.
In the hands of realists the thesis is taken to undermine the theory-observation dichotomy that permitted positivists to take an anti-realist attitude to theories. In the hands of Kuhn however, the thesis is taken, in effect, to extend anti-realism from theories to observation also. As for Lakatos himself, a chance remark in his most famous paper suggests something about his attitude. One has to appreciate the dare-devil attitude of our methodological falsificationist [or perhaps as he would have said in an earlier phase of his career, the conscientious Leninist].
He feels himself to be a hero who, faced with two catastrophic alternatives, dares to reflect coolly on their relative merits and [to] choose the lesser evil. As one of the leaders of the DEK, Lakatos agitated for the dismissal of reactionary professors from Debrecen and the exclusion of reactionary students. He became a graduate student at Budapest University, but spent much of his time working towards the communist takeover of Hungary.
Lakatos worked chiefly in the Ministry of Education, evaluating the credentials of university teachers and making lists of those who should be dismissed as untrustworthy once the communists took over Bandy The College, and others like it, was closed in after the communist takeover.
Inafter the communist takeover was substantially complete, he gained a scholarship to undertake further study in Moscow. He was arrested in April on charges of revisionism and, after a period in the cellars of the secret police including, of course, torturehe was condemned to the prison camp at Recsk. However Lakatos was probably doomed anyway.
Unquestionably Syme will be vaporized, Winston thought again. He thought it with a kind of sadness, although well knowing that Syme…was fully capable of denouncing him as a thought-criminal if he saw any reason for doing so.
There was something subtly wrong with Syme. There was something that he lacked: You could not say that he was unorthodox. He believed in the principles of Ingsoc, he venerated Big Brother, he rejoiced over victories, he hated heretics….
Yet a faint air of disreputability always clung to him. He said things that would have been better unsaid, he had read too many books…. Lakatos was the sort of over-zealous communist who was sometimes a couple of pamphlets ahead. After his release from Recsk in September minus several teethLakatos remained for a while, a loyal Stalinist. It was whilst working at the Mathematics Institute that he first gained access to the works of Popper. Gradually he turned against the Stalinist Marxism that had been his creed.
The very foundation of scholarly education is to foster in students and postgrads a respect for facts, for the necessity of thinking precisely, and to demand proof. Stalinism, however, branded this as bourgeois objectivism. Under the banner of partinost [Party-like] science and scholarship, we saw a vast experiment to create a science without facts, without proofs. This was the struggle against empiricism [Laughter and applause]. But that was pretty much the complaint of early revisionists such as Bernstein see Kolakowski Lakatos left Hungary in November after the Soviet Union crushed the short-lived Hungarian revolution.
He walked across the border into Austria with his wife and her parents. Even his friendship with Feyerabend and his friendship and subsequent bust-up with Popper were very much work-related. In Britain his academic career was meteoric. By he was Professor of Logic, with a worldwide reputation as a philosopher of science.
During the student revolts of the s, which in Britain were centred on the LSE, Lakatos became an establishment figure. Lakatos died suddenly in of a heart attack at the height of his powers. These were subsequently combined in a posthumous book and published, with additions, in What Lakatos does not make so much of though he does not conceal it either is that in his view the development of mathematics is also much more like the development of thought in general as analysed by Hegel than Hegel himself supposed.
Thus there is a certain sense in which Lakatos out-Hegels Hegel, giving a dialectical analysis of a discipline mathematics that Hegel himself despised as insufficiently dialectical see Larvor, For Lakatos, the development of mathematics should not be construed as series of Euclidean deductions where the contents of the relevant concepts has been carefully specified in advance so as to preclude equivocation. Rather, these water-tight deductions from well-defined premises are the perhaps temporary end-points of an evolutionary, and indeed a dialectical, process in which the constituent concepts are initially ill-defined, open-ended or ambiguous but become sharper and more precise in the context of a protracted debate.
The counterexample is a solid bounded by a pair of nested cubes, one of which is inside, but does not touch the other: Sir, your composure baffles me. A single counterexample refutes a conjecture as effectively as ten. The conjecture and its proof have completely misfired.
You have to surrender. Scrap the false conjecture, forget about it and try a radically new approach. I am interested in proofs even if they do not accomplish their intended task. Columbus did not reach India but he discovered something quite interesting. Thus even in his earlier work, when he is still a professed disciple of Popper, Lakatos is already a rather dissident Popperian.
Firstly, there are the hat-tips to Hegel as well as to Popper that crop up from time to time in Proofs and Refutations including the passage where he praises and condemns them both in the same breath.
Secondly, for Popper himself a proof is a proof and a refutation is supposed to kill a scientific conjecture stone-dead. Thus non-demonstrative proofs and non-refuting refutations mark a major departure from Popperian orthodoxy. This is arguably a lot more realistic than the Popperian theory it was designed to supplant or, in earlier formulations, the Popperian theory that it was designed to amend. For Popper, a theory is only scientific if is empirically falsifiable, that is if it is possible to specify observation statements which would prove it wrong.
A theory is good science, the sort of theory you should stick with though not the sort of thing you should believe as Popper did not believe in beliefif it is refutable, risky, and problem-solving and has stood up to successive attempts at refutation. It must be highly falsifiable, well-tested but thus far unfalsified.
The problem is that there seems to be no such body. Lakatos thought that the astronomers were right not to abandon Newton even though Newton eventually turned out to be wrong and Einstein turned out to be right. If the earth goes round the sun then the apparent position of at least some of the fixed stars namely the closest ones ought to vary with respect to the more distant ones as the earth is moving with respect to them.
Some parts of the night sky should look a little different at perihelion when the earth is furthest from the sun from the way that they look at aphelion when the earth is at its nearest to the sun, and hence at the other end of its orbit.
Indeed it was completely undetectable until when sufficiently powerful telescopes and measuring techniques were able to detect it, by which time the heliocentric view had long been regarded as an established fact.
Thus astronomers had not given up on either Copernicus or his successors despite this apparent falsification. How does it work? Instead of an individual falsifiable theory which ought to be rejected as soon as it is refuted, we have a sequence of falsifiable theories characterized by shared a hard core of central theses that are deemed irrefutable—or, at least, refutation-resistant—by methodological fiat. This sequence of theories constitutes a research programme. The shared hard core of this sequence of theories is often unfalsifiable in two senses of the term.
Firstly scientists working within the programme are typically and rightly reluctant to give up on the claims that constitute the hard core. Secondly the hard core theses by themselves are often devoid of empirical consequences. To derive empirical predictions from Newtonian mechanics you need a whole host of auxiliary hypotheses about the positions, masses and relative velocities of the heavenly bodies, including the earth. So when something goes wrong, and the observation statements that they entail turn out to be false, we have two intellectual options: For Lakatos an individual theory within a research programme typically consists of two components: Together with the hard core these auxiliary hypotheses entail empirical predictions, thus making the theory as a whole—hard core plus auxiliary hypotheses—a falsifiable affair.
What happens when refutation strikes, that is when the hard core in conjunction with the auxiliary hypotheses entails empirical predictions which turn out to be false? What we have essentially is a modus tollens argument in which science supplies one of the premises and nature plus experiment and observation supplies the other: But logic leaves us with a choice.
The conjunction of the hard core plus the auxiliary hypotheses has to go, but we can retain either the hard core or the auxiliary hypotheses. What Lakatos calls the negative heuristic of the research programme, bids us retain the hard core but modify the auxiliary hypotheses: It is this protective belt of auxiliary hypotheses which has to bear the brunt of tests and gets adjusted and re-adjusted, or even completely replaced, to defend the thus-hardened core.
How is she supposed to do this? Well, associated with the hard core, there is what Lakatos calls the positive heuristic of the programme. Alternatively, if stellar parallax is not observed, we can try to refute this apparent refutation by refining our instruments and making more careful measurements and observations.
Lakatos evidently thinks that when one theory in the sequence has been refuted, scientists can legitimately persist with the hard core without being in too much of a hurry to construct the next refutable theory in the sequence. On the one hand, they connect the central theses of the hard core with experience, allowing to them to figure in testable, and hence, refutable theories.
On the other hand, they insulate the theses of the hard core from refutation, since when the arrow of modus tollens strikes, we direct it at the auxiliary hypotheses rather than the hard core. So far we have had an account of what scientists typically do do and what Lakatos thinks that they ought to do. But what about the Demarcation Criterion between science and non-science or between good science and bad?
Even if it is sometimes rational to persist with the hard core of a theory when the hard core plus some set of auxiliary hypotheses has been refuted, there must surely be some circumstances in which is it rational to give it up! The Methodology of Scientific Research Programme has got to be something more than a defence of scientific pig-headedness! As Lakatos himself puts the point: Each of them, at any stage of its development, has unsolved problems and undigested anomalies.
All theories, in this sense, are born refuted and die refuted. But are they [all] equally good? Some science is objectively better than other science and some science is so unscientific as to hardly qualify as science at all. Rather we ask ourselves whether the sequence of theories, the research programme, is scientific or non-scientific or constitutes good or bad science. What is it for a research programme to be progressive?
It must meet two conditions. Firstly it must be theoretically progressive. The statement presupposes a universal field. But what does this mean?
Consciousness of the World and the World of Consciousness
It means that there is a universal form of connection, of interaction and thus a unity of the universe: This is what follows from the principle of reflection as a universal property of matter. Figuratively speaking, one may say that every point in the universal field is a living mirror of the universe.
One of the key aspects of the interaction of living organisms with the environment is their ability to obtain vital information about it. This ability and the ability to use such information to some purpose is so important for their behavioural acts that it may be classed among the fundamental properties of everything that is alive.
Moreover, organisms that have had a more complex evolution possess more diversified information. The living organism acquires a special adaptive activity, which represents a qualitatively higher level of interaction of the organism as a whole with the environ ment, that is to say, behaviour regulated by mind.
This activity allows the organism to detect and relate biologically significant pointers, to anticipate and mediate its behaviour— not only to obtain one thing but also to avoid another.
It is possible that the rudiments of mental activity appeared in animals that had no nervous system. There can be no doubt, however, that mental activity later became a function of the brain. An animal regulates its behaviour in accordance with the information received from organs, produced by evolution, for obtaining information about environing things and processes.
Mental activity in the form of sensation and perception is a kind of double information, which relates to the properties and relations of external things and also their significance for the life of the particular organism.
The process of development of mental activity involves qualitatively new formations. The essential thing about this process is the genesis of new forms of behaviour arising in the course of an animal's life. These are related to the concept of instinct and the acquired abilities of imitation and learning.
Instinct is a purposeful and goal-oriented adaptive activity based on direct reflection of reality. It is conditioned by innate mechanisms and stimulated by biological needs.
The important thing about behaviour determined by instincts is that without actually comprehending them the animal per forms objectively intelligent actions in relation to stereotype situations that are biologically essential to the survival of the species. From the evolutional standpoint instinct, as an innate feature of mode of action, is the "informational experience" of previous generations of the given species and of man in satisfying biological needs, experience which is beneficial to the individual of the species and recorded in certain morphological-physiological structures of the organism and also in the structure of its mental activity.
At the common-sense level, in fairy tales and myths, animals have from time immemorial been presented as our little brothers in reason. They have been credited with cunning, initiative, consciousness, conscience, a sense of beauty, all the human characteristics.
Everyone has heard of exceptionally intelligent dogs saving human beings and serving them devotedly, of horses carrying their riders out of danger, finding their way in snowstorms, and so on.
At the scientific level scientists have for many years now been investigating the behaviour and mental activity of animals, particularly, such higher species as dolphins and apes, which possess amazing ability to imitate and observe. At a recent international conference which discussed the problem of consciousness in animals, most of the delegates said no in reply to the question, "Do animals think?
Thinking means solving problems of various degrees of complexity. Both experiments and observation have shown that the higher animals are capable of solving relatively simple problems, whose terms do not go beyond the given situation.
They can find devious ways to a goal, construct a biologically significant structure, track down a quarry, improve a stick for obtaining food, crack nuts with a stone, and so on. Monkeys are very interested in anything new. In short, the higher animals have an elementary intellect. But to the concept of consciousness we attribute a very wide meaning, which is possessed only by human beings, and if animals have it, they can be said to have only its biological rudiments or prerequisites.
From the very beginning, consciousness has been a social product and will remain such for as long as human beings in general exist. Whereas animals' mental activity depends on biological laws and regulates their behaviour, human consciousness aspires to creative knowledge and practical transformation of the world.
The development of humankind and human consciousness is associated with the transition from the gathering of ready-made objects to the process of labour, that is, to production of the means of existence with the help of man-made tools. Labour with its necessary transition from life in the conditions of a biological community to the social form of life and, consequently, to communication by means of language, transformed the basically instinctive behaviour of animals and led to the formation of mechanisms for conscious human activity.
Arising and developing in labour, consciousness is also and indeed mainly embodied in labour and creates the world of humanised nature, the world of culture. So the answer to the riddle of the origin of consciousness can be expressed in two words: By sharpening the blade of his stone axe and communicating by means of speech man at the same time sharpened his own intellect.
It was labour, the relations formed on its basis, and also language in the form of gesture, sound and writing, in the form of painting, sculpture and music, that developed the consciousness of our distant ancestor beyond the limits of the individual mind and made possible the formation of supra-individual consciousness — the dawn of various forms of social consciousness as the rudiments of scientific knowledge, art, simple rules of morality, various kinds of magical, mythological and religious notions and rituals.
All this would later develop in the course of history and grow into a rich variety of forms of social consciousness — philosophy, science, art, morality, political ideology and law. The world monotheistic religions would arise. All these forms would be either a true or imaginary reflection of more developed forms of people's social existence, their material and intellectual production, the ideals and aspirations of various social groups, classes, nations and humanity as a whole.
The power of culture grows like a snowball.
It has a complex structure with various levels, from the ordinary mass consciousness to the highest forms of theoretical thought. Though relatively independent, social consciousness has a feedback effect on the life of society. Between personal and social consciousness there is a constant interaction.
Just as society is not the sum-total of the people whom it includes, social consciousness is not just the sum-total of individuals' consciousness. Just as the general will by no means expresses the will of every individual, so the social consciousness is not the consciousness of every member of society. Social consciousness is a qualitatively specific intellectual system, with a relatively independent existence.
Historically evolved standards of consciousness become the personal convictions of the individual, the source of moral rules, aesthetic feelings and ideas. In their turn, personal ideas and beliefs, thanks to the creative activity of those who have them, acquire social value, become socially significant and merge in the general ocean of the social consciousness. Important ideas are thus recorded in words and deeds. That is why they do not die with their creators.
On the contrary, it is often after this death that their real life, their unusual destinies and adventures begin. It is above all the great historical personalities who plant the tree of a new trend whose crown reaches out to the future, and whose rich foliage serves many generations and whole peoples, even the whole of humanity. The fate of the individual consciousness is inseparable from that of the individual himself. It comes into being as the highest form of mental activity.
It expresses the unique features of the individual's path in life, the specific features of his education, various political, religious, moral, scientific, philosophical and other social influences, all the things that diversify and enrich the individual's spiritual world. Every child, when it comes into the world, begins to think, to experience aesthetic pleasures, moral impulses and a desire for knowledge only by becoming involved in culture, by becoming aware of standards that have their roots in the previous history of humankind.
The individual becomes a personality to the extent that he commands this wealth and multiplies it. Through comprehending the products of their own material and intellectual activity, by becoming aware of their relations with one another, people have come to comprehend themselves, that is to say, they have attained self-consciousness. From the very start consciousness developed in two closely related directions, the cognitive and the constructive-creative.
Together they express the main reason for and social necessity of its origin and development. The constructive and creative side of consciousness could not have arisen or existed without cognition and cognition alone could never have provided the necessary individual, subjective spur to human development.
Consciousness was never a mere luxury, a mere act of contemplation. While rejecting the idealist explanation of consciousness as the individual's immanent activity arising from the depths of his spirit, science at the same time explodes the concept of metaphysical materialism, which treats consciousness as contemplation divorced from practice. When we speak of the activeness of consciousness, we mean its selectivity, its ability to set itself a goal, its generation of new ideas, acts of creative imagination, its guidance of practical activity.
The point of departure for any relationship to the real world is goal-setting activity. The main reason for and historical necessity of the emergence and development of consciousness, which enables man to get an accurate picture of the surrounding world, to foresee the future and on this basis transform the world by his practical activity, is its goal-setting creative activity aimed at changing the world in the interests of man and society.
A person's consciousness is not merely a contemplative reflection of objective reality; it creates it. When reality does not satisfy a person, he sets out to change it by means of his labour and various forms of social activity.
A human being is aware of the world and his attitude towards it and is thus aware of himself. At this level, the objective and subjective begin to reveal their integral unity. This duality in unity is in fact the "glimmering dawn of self-consciousness".
Self-consciousness was the answer to the imperative demand of social conditions of existence, which from the outset required that a person should be able to assess his actions, words, thoughts and feelings from the standpoint of certain social norms and to comprehend not only the surrounding world but also himself. Like consciousness as a whole, self-consciousness was moulded by labour and intercourse.
In all forms of his activity a person constantly encounters not only the external world but also himself, becomes the target of his own thoughts and evaluations.
A human being is a reflecting being. He is constantly thinking about his actions, thoughts, ideals, feelings, his moral image, aesthetic tastes and socio-political positions, his relationship to everything that goes on in the world.
Human beings have the ability to look at themselves "from the side". In the philosophical sense a self-conscious person is one who is fully aware of his place in life, the inevitability of passing through certain growth stages, the finity of his existence as a passing moment in the flow of events. The personality cannot be deprived of its reflexive dimension. This is one of the essential privileges that distinguish man from the animals. The animals must be given credit for knowing something, for possessing some elementary information about the things going on around them.
But unlike man, they are not aware of their own knowledge. Man knows about the actual act of knowledge and the fact that he is the person who knows it, that is to say, a person is aware of himself both as the subject of knowledge, the knower, and also of what he knows. A person understands not only that he knows something but also that he is far from knowing everything, that beyond his own knowledge there stretches a boundless ocean of the unknown. He knows what he does not know and hence the innumerable questions and the groping search for answers.
Can a person possess consciousness without at the same time possessing self-consciousness? Both historically and ontologically the two take shape simultaneous ly. They are something integral, although inwardly they have a qualitative differentiation. The physiological and psychological mechanisms of self-consciousness would appear to be rather more complex, more subtle and vulnerable.
Philosophy and Art
Self-consciousness is not simply consciousness turned inwards. It cannot take place directly. It is always mediated by awareness of other things outside the self. The individual gets to know himself only to the extent that he knows the world.
Thus self-consciousness clearly has a "double image"; it consists of both the external object and the subject himself. It is a kind of inner light that illumines both the self and the other thing.
Every thinking person understands how difficult it is to separate the object of thought and the act of observing this thought. There are usually three aspects to a person's reflections: