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In the opening of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Ayn Rand writes: "Consciousness, as a state of awareness"

How many states of awareness are there?

asked Nov 14 '10 at 15:49

dream_weaver's gravatar image

dream_weaver ♦

edited Nov 14 '10 at 17:34

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

I don't think she meant that consciousness is one out of multiple different states of awareness. My guess is that the phrase "as a state of awareness" was meant to distinguish the state of consciousness from the faculty of consciousness (i.e., the capacity for that state).

answered Nov 14 '10 at 17:43

jasoncrawford's gravatar image

jasoncrawford ♦

Leonard Peikoff states in OPAR, page 52: "The first stage of consciousness is that of sensation. A "sensation" is an irreducible state of awareness produced by the action of a stimulus on a sense organ."

(Jan 16 '11 at 13:44) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

And revisiting this, I must concur. The state of awareness is establishing the context by which to consider consciousness as.

(Jun 09 '11 at 19:54) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

The term, consciousness, has many meanings and nuances. Memory of yesterday is consciousness of yesterday, but not awareness of yesterday, because awareness is immediate apprehension.

The activity of cognition, which Rand wanted, in that passage, to emphasize, required her to direct the reader's attention away from one's vocabulary, one's memories, one's emotions, etc. All these things exist mentally, and are in that sense a part of consciousness, but are sometimes passive and/or stored.

The real-time, sensory-perceptual interaction with one's environment that is awareness requires the activity Rand wanted to draw our attention to. Thus, the phraseology quoted was elected.

Secondarily: There are distinctions to be made regarding sensory-perceptual awareness. There are things we are aware of and know we are aware of, and things we find we must have been aware of, but don't recall having paid any attention to, etc.

answered Jan 17 '11 at 00:29

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

I can think of three right off the bat:

  1. sensation - simple stimulus/response - plants, animals and humans
  2. perception - conversion of sensation into percepts - animals and humans
  3. cognition - ability to predict future based on percepts - some animals (not insects) and humnans

answered Nov 14 '10 at 21:48

Scott's gravatar image

Scott ♦

edited Nov 14 '10 at 21:49


Hmm, I would call those "levels" of consciousness or awareness. I'm not sure I would call them different states of awareness. That seems to imply that you can be in one, and then the other. But humans, for example, always have both percepts and concepts in their context, at the same time.

(Nov 14 '10 at 21:51) jasoncrawford ♦ jasoncrawford's gravatar image

Hmm as well: I would say that sensation, perception, and conception are three forms of awareness -- all of which could (though would not necessarily be) be simultaneously present in one state of awareness.

(Nov 14 '10 at 23:42) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Rand uses the term sensation in several ways - as a mechanism of external stimuli > response in 'lower' animals; as a type of awareness - arrived from sensory information (sense organs) e.g., pain, hunger and also the information that organs receive that lead to perception e.g., sight, sound. Only the second one really has any meaning in terms of awareness. Awareness, Rand defines as "perceiving that which exists" as such differing states is somewhat of a misnomer; either you are aware of what exists or you are not. There is no middle ground in terms of existence.

(Nov 15 '10 at 01:35) Cog Cog's gravatar image
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Asked: Nov 14 '10 at 15:49

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Last updated: Jun 09 '11 at 19:54