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A theory of consciousness and the self.

Moss, Edward. (1984) A theory of consciousness and the self. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

My chief purpose in this study is to reach a clear view of what we mean by the Self. There are many ambiguities in our ordinary uses of this word, and it might therefore seem appropriate to begin the study with definitions and philosophical argument. However the approach I have adopted is rather that of a descriptive, phenomenalist psychology, an attempt to describe in as coherent and comprehensive a way as possible what happens in consciousness and where and how the Self emerges. In practice this means that I have to begin with a description of the organism in its environment in order to provide a framework for the subsequent analysis of consciousness, and in particular to establish the key concepts of information, coding, behaviour and consciousness itself. Next I try to provide a broadly comprehensive account of the processes of conscious life --- otherwise of the mind - including the central processes of purposive thought, decision and action. In the course of this exploration it becomes clear that a determining part in these processes is played by the idea which each of us forms of himself or herself. The three central chapters of the study are therefore taken up with a closer examination of this feature. The first of them deals with how it is built up and works, while the second and third deal with the question of how we can establish when it is working well or not. These two chapters represent an examination of the concept of coherence and wholeness in the idea of the Self, of how it is created and sustained, of the imperfections of this wholeness and of what can be done about them. This leads into the area of ethics, of healing, and of the psychological aspect of religion. Finally, in the last chapter, "The Idea and the Reality", I try, on the basis of the preceding analysis, to deal with some of the philosophical problems which inevitably arise when any comprehensive account of the Self is attempted. Can we equate the mind's idea of the Self, which is the subject of the central analysis of this study, with the true Self? If not, what is the true Self? In what sense, if any, can the Self be said to be free? If the Self is free, what can we say about the use of freedom, which is responsibility? And what ultimately becomes of the Self? I cannot claim to provide definitive answers to these profound and perennial questions, nor to review all of the immense literature which has gathered round them. But I try to present them in a framework derived from the preceding enquiry, and to suggest a possible approach to them which is coherent with the rest of the study. Some of these questions go beyond science and natural philosophy into the field of religion. Insofar as I touch upon the psychology of religion, I do so from the inside as a believing Christian. I do not apologise therefore for the fact that in some of the later sections of the study I include some suggestions about a possible Christian interpretation of the nature and destiny of the Self. In doing so I am not departing from the rational and objective purpose of the study; rather I am trying to show how a Christian view can be seen to fit on to the preceding argument and, in its own fashion, to reinforce and complete it.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Moss, Edward.
Date : 1984
Contributors :
ContributionNameEmailORCID
http://www.loc.gov/loc.terms/relators/THS
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 1984.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 22 Jun 2018 14:24
Last Modified : 06 Nov 2018 16:53
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/847828

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