The Nature of Human Mind and Thought: An Essay on Consciousness and its Modes

Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada) (1994)
Abstract
This thesis is an essay exploring the problem of consciousness and its relevance for educational theory and practice. An overview of the literature indicates that consciousness is a phenomenon with two aspects: the physical and the mental. The physical aspect is advocated by 'naturalists' who hold the objective third person view of consciousness; itself compatible with the scientific view of physical reality. The mental aspect is presented by 'mentalists' who hold the subjective first person view of consciousness. The subjective aspect is verified through introspective means and appears to be compatible with the phenomenological view of the world. Either the physical or mental aspect, when considered apart from each other, constitute a fragmented explanation of the nature of consciousness. I argue that to overcome this constraint we must explain consciousness as a phenomenon with two aspects. ;Consciousness is a phenomenon comprising an objective or physical aspect and a subjective or mental aspect. Moreover, consciousness manifests itself in socially constructed human activity. Both aspects of human consciousness appear to complement each other within the quasi-natural environment of the inter-subjective social world. Both aspects become social through human interaction in the form of speech, communication, and discourse. ;The suggested solution to the problem concerning the nature of consciousness also serves as a springboard for reaching beyond the doctrines of 'Formalism' and 'Informalism' in educational philosophy. The valid elements of 'Formalism' and 'Informalism' are synthesized to produce a monistic view of education on the basis of an understanding of consciousness. The thesis shows that doctrines of education must reflect, and correspond to, doctrines describing the nature of consciousness. Humans consciousness is affected by both objective and subjective elements of knowledge. Knowing subjects are capable of conscious activity based not only on objective knowledge about physical phenomena of nature, but also on subjective knowledge caused by mental states progressively disclosing the interior of human subjectivity and the self. It is further suggested that a concept of education must also be based on the way the consciousness of individual learners gets objectified through symbolic interaction in the social world
Keywords Consciousness   Education   Non-formal education
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