Site hosted by Build your free website today!









The Act in Its Traditional Interpretation

Before embarking upon a discussion of the act and the person it is first necessary to look, however briefly, into a question that has but the semblance of purely terminological significance. It is only man's deliberate acting that we call an "act" or "action." Nothing else in his acting, nothing that is not intended and deliberate deserves to be so termed. In the Western philosophical tradition a deliberate action has been seen as the actus humanus, the human act, with the stress laid on the aspect of purpose and deliberateness; it is in this sense that the term is used, even if implicitly, throughout this book, since only man can act purposely and deliberately.'0 The expression "actus humanus" itself is not only derived from the verb agere - which establishes its direct relationship with action and acting because agere means to act or to do - but it also assumes, as it is traditionally used in Western philosophy, a specified interpretation of the action, namely, the interpretation found in the philosophies of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. The interpretation is realistic and objectivistic as well as metaphysical. It issues from the whole conception of being, and more directly from the conception of potentia -actus, which has been used by Aristotelians to explain the changeable and simultaneously dynamic nature of being.11

Here we are concerned with the concrete being that is man, with his own proper mode of acting. The specific mode of man's acting is precisely the reason why in Scholastic philosophy the action is defined as actus humanus or, more precisely, as actus voluntarius. Such action is the concretion of the dynamism proper to man, insofar as its performance is conformable with the free will. The feature indicated by the attributive voluntarius is the decisive factor in the inherent essence of action as well as for its separateness from the acting of any other subject that is not a person. In the light of the Aristotelian conception as interpreted by the Scholastics, the peculiar aspect of the term actus is its close link with a corresponding potentia. This points to the potential substratum of actualization; it explains why actus humanus considers man as the subject who acts; less directly, it accounts for his potentiality as the source of acting. The same is accomplished with still greater precision by the expression actus voluntarius, which points directly to the power that serves as the dynamic basis in conscious acting, the basis of action. The power in question is the free will. The attribute voluntarius also tells us how the action is accomplished, namely, that it is "voluntary" -which means there is nothing to interfere with the actualization of the free will.


Action as Peculiar to the Person

Nevertheless, the term "human act" or "action" as such contains a definite interpretation of action as conscious acting, which is strictly connected with the philosophy of being. In its own way this interpretation is correct. It accounts for the experiential facts as a whole and brings out most meaningfully all that is essential in them. In a sense we may even say no other interpretation of human action is possible; for it seems there is no conception better suited for grasping both the thoroughly dynamic nature of human actions and their intimate association with the human being as a person. It seems, moreover, that any attempt at dealing with this problem, any attempt that strives to attain the full meaning of all its essential elements and constitutive interrelations, must in one way or another acknowledge the philosophical content hidden in the terms "human act" and "voluntary act." The same philosophical content is assumed also in the attempt undertaken in this study. Nevertheless, in the course of our considerations we shall have to scrutinize and unfold these assumptions further and reexamine them in their various aspects. For the moment it suffices to say that the historical conception tends to assume the human person as the source of action: whereas the approach of this study is from the opposite side, and aims to bring into full view precisely that which is only assumed in the classic conception of the "human act"; for indeed, as we have pointed out before, action may also serve as a source of knowledge of the person.12 Action as such - that is, as the human action - ought to be helpful in the cognitive actualization of the potentiality, which it takes for granted as its roots. But the potentiality is that of the personal being, so that action is to be interpreted not only as the human action but also as the action of the person. In approaching the person through his actions we shall have to retain that philosophical intuition which appears to be indispensable for the comprehension and the philosophical interpretation of any dynamism and thus also of the dynamism of action, that is, of conscious acting. Since, then, the fullest and most comprehensive interpretation of that dynamism is the only way of bringing into view the whole reality of the person, the provision of such an interpretation shall be our main objective.

When so defined, action is identical in meaning with human action; the noun action is related to the verbs to act and to do. "Action," in the sense it is used here, is equivalent to the acting of man as a person. While "human act" shows such action as a specific manner of becoming based on the potentiality of the personal subject, the terms act or action themselves tell us nothing about it. They seem to denote the same dynamic reality but, in a way, only as a phenomenon or manifestation rather than as an ontic structure. It does not mean, however, that they prevent us from gaining access to this structure. On the contrary, both action and conscious acting tell us of the dynamism proper to man as a person. It is owing to this intrinsic content that they comprise all that is meant by "human act"; apparently philosophical thought has so far failed to develop a more fundamental concept for expressing dynamism apart from the concept of actus.13


Voluntariness as Indication of Consciousness

By ''action'' is meant acting consciously. When we say ''conscious acting" we implicitly refer to the kind of acting that is related to and characteristic of the will. Thus the phrase to some extent corresponds to the actus voluntarius of Scholastic philosophy, since any acting pertaining to the human will must also be conscious. We can now see even more vividly how condensed is the meaning of "action" or of the corresponding "conscious acting" of everyday speech. In it are contained the ontological meanings, which belong to the human act, as well as the psychological meanings, which are traceable in such attributives as the Latin voluntarius or the English conscious. Hence the notion of action contains a great wealth of implications, which will have to be gradually extricated and explicated. Simultaneously, our explication will gradually disclose that reality of the human person; indeed, it is the object of this study to uncover and gradually to expound the notion of action from the point of view of the reality of the human person. That aim we shall strive to achieve step by step, keeping in mind the organic integrity of the concrete action in its relation to the person. This gradual approach is, indeed, the direct consequence of the very conception of an "aspect"; an aspect may never stand for the whole and may never put it out of view. If it is substituted for a whole, it ceases to be but an aspect, and unavoidably leads to errors in the conception we form of any composite reality. But it is precisely such a complex reality that we have in the acting person. We cannot for a moment forget the existence of this complexity and the ensuing epistemological principles when we embark upon the analysis of the person and his action by examining first, the aspect of consciousness and second, that of efficacy.



Is this Analysis Possible and Necessary?

The concept of "conscious acting" brings us to envisage the aspect of consciousness in an action but does not precisely identify it. It is first necessary to recognize the difference between conscious acting and the consciousness of acting; the aspect of consciousness will then come into view, as it were, in itself. The distinction, when we make it, allows us to gain a direct access to consciousness, thus enabling us to examine it in greater detail - though obviously we must continue to take account of the function which it performs in the acting as well as in the whole existence of the person. For man not only acts consciously, but also has the consciousness that he is acting and even that he is acting consciously. This is apparent in the fact that ''conscious'' and ''consciousness'' have two different applications: one is used attributively, when reference is made to conscious acting; the other is employed as a noun, which may be the subject, when the reference is to the consciousness of acting. Our discussion will henceforth concentrate on the consciousness of acting and consequently on the consciousness of the acting person; hence our aim will be to disclose its relationship with the person and the action. It is only in this connection that consciousness as such will be considered. When, on the other hand, we speak of conscious acting - without stressing the consciousness of acting - then we point only to action, to its constitutive feature that proceeds from cognition. What is implied here is the kind of cognition that makes the action also voluntary, which means that it is performed according to the will; for cognitive objectivation is assumed in the correct functioning of the will. It now becomes clear why the expression ''conscious acting'' says nothing directly of the consciousness of acting. It is, however, possible and even necessary to discern, in that dynamic whole, consciousness as such, and to examine it as a special aspect. Since we shall be concerned throughout this study with conscious acting an examination of the consciousness itself of acting, which is the theme of this chapter, may throw new light on the whole dynamic system of person and action.

At this point the question may, or even should, be asked why the aspect of consciousness is discussed in the first chapter, that is, why the discussion of the consciousness of acting precedes the discussion of efficacy, though it is efficacy that makes of conscious acting the action of the person. Why in our analysis do we first consider what is secondary and not what is fundamental in our conception of action? The question cannot be answered in advance; a possibly full and detailed explanation will emerge only in the course of our inquiry. At any rate, if we first undertake an analysis of the consciousness of acting, we shall be better able to disclose the ground for the analysis of efficacy, to extend, as it were, the range of the analysis, and at the same time to draw in sharper contour the image of action as the dynamism which best expresses the human person as such. Needless to say, even when considered in a position of priority, the analysis of consciousness refers also to efficacy - as well as to the whole human dynamism - and permanently presupposes it. I do not intend to enter here into an analysis of consciousness as such and in itself, but only in its strict association with the dynamism and efficacy of the human being, just as in the reality of the human experience the consciousness of acting is strictly associated with acting consciously. The singling out of consciousness as a separate object of investigation is only a methodical operation; it is like taking a term out of brackets in order thereby to gain a better understanding of what remains bracketed. That is precisely the reason why in the title of this chapter mention is made not of consciousness alone but of the person and his acting in the aspect of consciousness.


How Is Consciousness Implied in the Human Act?

The traditional interpretation of action as human act implies consciousness in the sense earlier Crefined as attributive: human is equivalent to conscious acting. It is in this sense that consciousness is, so to speak, completely merged in the voluntarium, in the dynamism of the human will. This interpretation neither isolates nor develops the aspect of consciousness. But consciousness as such, consciousness in the substantival and subjective sense, because it permeates deep into the whole person-action relation and because in itself it is an important aspect of this relation, may be perceived by itself in conscious acting. It is this aspect that not only reflects the existence of the person as well as his actions, but also fashions them in a specific manner. Let us note, however, that although in the traditional conception of human act this aspect was not entirely disregarded, its presentation was vague, and, as it were, only implied in it.14

The traditional conception of actus humanus was in fact, as we already remarked, a tributary, not only of an epistemologically realistic position, but also of a metaphysical standpoint. It conceived consciousness as something that was incorporated and subordinate, as if it was dissolved in man 5 actions and in his being, the being of the rational nature; though man existed and acted consciously, it was not in consciousness that his being and acting had their specific origin. In this connection we have to keep in mind that our own stand on that question is also clearly against any tendency to attribute absolute significance to consciousness. We want, however, to bring out and, so to speak, to expose the fact that consciousness constitutes a specific and unique aspect in human action. Whereas in the Scholastic approach, the aspect of consciousness was on the one hand only implied and, as it were, hidden in "rationality" (this refers to the definitions, homo est animal rationale and persona est rationalis naturae individua substantia); on the other hand it was contained in the will (understood as appetitus rationalis) and expressed by voluntarius. The task set out in this investigation is to go farther and to exhibit consciousness as an intrinsic and cons titutive aspect of the dynamic structure, that is, of the acting person.

Indeed, man not only acts consciously, but he is also aware of both the fact that he is acting and the fact that it is he who is acting - hence he has the awareness of the action as well as of the person in their dynamic interrelation. His awareness is simultaneous with conscious acting and, so to speak, accompanies it. But it is also present before and after. It has its own continuity and its own identity separate from the continuity and the identity of any particular action.'5 Every action finds consciousness, if one may say so, already there; it develops and comes to pass in the presence of consciousness, leaving behind little trace of its passage. Consciousness accompanies and reflects or mirrors the action when it is born and while it is being performed; once the action is accomplished consciousness still continues to reflect it, though of course it no longer accompanies it. The accompanying presence of consciousness is decisive in making man aware of his acting rather than in making his acting conscious. Again, it is its presence that makes him act as a person and experience his acting as an action, the role of the aspect of consciousness being manifested most appropriately in the latter. This is precisely what we shall now strive to expound.


In what Sense Is "Consciousness" Used Here?

Although it is true to say that in the ultimate analysis the function of consciousness is cognitive, this statement describes its nature only in a very general way; for in this function consciousness seems to be only a reflection, or rather a mirroring, of what happens in man and of his acting, of what he does and how he does it. (The distinction between what happens in man and what he does is of great importance in all our future discussion of action and will be fully examined in the next chapter.) Consciousness is also the reflection, or rather the mirroring, of everything that man meets with in an external relation by means of any and all of his doings - also cognitive - and all the things happening in him. This is all mirrored in consciousness. "Contained" in it, so to speak, there is the whole man, as well as the whole world accessible to this concrete man - the man who is me, that is, myself. How is all this "contained" in consciousness? The question is important and the answer is that whatever consciousness "contains" is held by it in its own specific manner. We shall now seek to define that "specific manner."

It lies in the essence of cognitive acts performed by man to investigate a thing, to objectivize it intentionally, and in this way to comprehend it. In this sense cognitive acts have an intentional character, since they are directed toward the cognitive object; for they find in it the reason for their existence as acts of comprehension and knowledge. The same does not seem to apply to consciousness. In opposition to the classic phenomenological view, we propose that the cognitive reason for the existence of consciousness and of the acts proper to it does not consist in the penetrative apprehension of the constitutive elements of the object, in its objectivation leading to the constitution of the object.16 Hence the intentionality that is characteristic for cognitive acts - to which we owe the formation, and an understanding, of the objective reality on any of its levels - does not seem to be derived from acts of consciousness. These are not essentially intentional by nature, even though all that is the object of our cognition, comprehension, and knowledge is also the object of our consciousness. But while comprehension and knowledge contribute in an intentional way to the formation of the object - it is in this that consists the inherent dynamism of cognizing - consciousness as such is restricted to mirroring what has already been cognized. Consciousness is, so to speak, the understanding of what has been constituted and comprehended. The purport of the preceding remarks is that the intrinsic cognitive dynamism, the very operation of cognition, does not belong to consciousness. If acts of cognition consist in constituting in a specific way the meanings referring to cognitive objects, then it is not consciousness that constitutes them, even if they are indubitably constituted also in consciousness.

It seems, therefore, impossible to deny the cognitive properties or even the cognitive function of consciousness, though the nature of the properties and the function is specific. What we may perhaps call the "consciousness trait" is peculiar to the particular acts of consciousness as well as to their current totality, which may be viewed as the sum or the "resultant" of those acts and which we usually simply refer to as consciousness. As ''consciousness'' we understand then "reflecting consciousness" - that is, consciousness in its mirroring function. If we see it as if it were the derivative of the whole actively cognitive process and of the cognitive attitude to the external reality, like the last "reflection" of the process in the cognizant subject, it means that we recognize this reflecting or mirroring as possible insofar as we attribute to consciousness the specific quality of penetrating and illuminating whatever becomes in any way man's cognitive possession. (But such penetrative illumination is not tantamount to the active understanding of objects and, subsequently, to the constituting of their meanings.) If we are to keep to this description, the penetrative illumination is rather like keeping objects and their cognitive meanings "in the light," or "in the actual field of consciousness."


Consciousness Is not an Autonomous Subject

Obviously the aim of our present discussion is not to elaborate a complete and finished theory of consciousness. To deny the intentional nature of the acts of consciousness seems to be contrary to most contemporary opinions on that issue. Looking at consciousness, however, we see it not as a separate and self-contained reality but as the subjective content of the being and acting that is conscious, the being and acting proper to man. Disclosing consciousness in the totality of human dynamisms and showing it as the constitutive property of action we strive to understand it, but always in its relation to the action, to the dynamism and efficacy of the person. This manner of seeing and interpreting consciousness - consciousness in what we call the substantival and subjective sense - protects us from conceiving it as an independent, self-contained subject. Indeed, to recognize that consciousness is an independent subject could pave the way to a conception of it in absolute terms and consequently would lead to idealism, if it were taken as the sole subject of all the contents - which would then be nothing but an expression of its own doing (thus, esse = percipi). This line of reasoning, however, lies beyond the scope of the present considerations. Our concern here is solely with consciousness considered from the point of view of the person and his existential efficacy; it is this consciousness that we are striving to describe when we speak of the mirroring and illuminating function peculiar to both the particular acts of consciousness and to the resultant of those acts.

It is necessary nevertheless to note that the sum or resultant of the acts of consciousness determines the actual state of consciousness. The subject of this state, however, is not consciousness itself but the human being, of whom we rightly may say that he is or is not "conscious," that he has full or limited consciousness, and so on. Consciousness itself does not exist as the "substantive" subject of the acts of consciousness; it exists neither as an independent factor nor as a faculty. A full discussion of the arguments in support of this thesis is the task of philosophical psychology or anthropology and lies beyond the scope of the present enquiry. Nevertheless, from what was already said of the nature of the consciousness it is clear that it is entirely dissolved in its own acts and in their specific character of "being aware"; and though this specific character is connected with the mirroring function it is a different thing from cognitive objectivation. Indeed, it is not only cognitively that man enters into the world of other men and objects and even discovers himself there as one of them: he has also as his possession all this world in the image mirrored by consciousness, which is a factor in his innermost, most personal life. For consciousness not only reflects but also interiorizes in its own specific manner what it mirrors, thus encapsulating or capturing it in the person's ego. Here, however, we come to another and supposedly a deeper function of consciousness, which we shall have to discuss separately. We shall then have to answer the question how this interiorization may be accomplished by the mirroring and illuminating functions of consciousness, which we have identified in the preceding analysis. At any rate, our investigation brought us closer to the conscious aspect of action and at the same time of the conscious aspect of the person. We have found that consciousness of action differs from an action conceived as consisting in acting consciously. The consciousness of an action is a reflection, one of the many mirrorings, which make up the consciousness of the person. This reflection belongs by its very nature to consciousness and does not consist in the objectivation of either the action or the person, even though it carries within itself a faithful image of the action as well as of the person.




Consciousness Conditioned by Its Reflecting Function

From what we have said so far we gather that consciousness mirrors human actions in its own peculiar manner - the reflection intrinsically belongs to it - but does not cognitively objectivize either the actions or the person who performs them, or even the whole "universe of the person," which in one way or another is connected with man's being and acting. Nevertheless, the acts of consciousness as well as their resultant are obviously related to everything that lies beyond them, and especially to the actions performed by the personal ego. This relation is established by means of the consciousness, which is constituted by the meanings of the particular items of reality and of their interrelationships. When we speak of the aspect of consciousness that refers to meanings, and at the same time state that consciousness as such has no power of cognitive objectivation, we come to the conclusion that the whole of human cognition - the power and the efficacy of active comprehension - closely cooperates with consciousness. Consciousness itself is thus conditioned by this power and efficacy - it is conditioned, so to speak, by the cognitive potentiality, which conformably with the whole Western philosophical tradition appears as a fundamental property of the human person.

The power and the efficacy of active understanding allows us to ascertain the meaning of particular things and to intellectually incorporate them, as well as the relations between them, "into" our consciousness. For to "understand" means the same as to "grasp" the meaning of things and their interrelations. Insofar as all this is alien to consciousness the whole process of active comprehending neither proceeds in it nor is owing to it. The meanings of things and of their relations are given to consciousness, as it were, from outside as the product of knowledge, which in turn results from the active constitution and comprehension of the objective reality and is accumulated by man and possessed by him by various means and to different degrees. Hence the various degrees of knowledge determine the different levels of consciousness.

All the forms and kinds of knowledge which man acquires and possesses and which shape his consciousness with respect to its content, that is from the side of objective meanings, have to be distinguished from what we call "self-knowledge." There is no need to explain that self-knowledge consists in the understanding of one's own self and is concerned with a kind of cognitive insight into the object that I am for myself. We may add that such an insight introduces a specific continuity to the diverse moments or states in the being of the ego,'7 because it reaches what constitutes their primary unity, which comes from their being rooted in the ego. Hence it is not surprising that self-knowledge more than any other form of knowledge must be consistent with consciousness; for its subject matter is the ego, with which - as will be fully demonstrated in the course of further analysis - consciousness remains in an intimate subjective union. At this point self-knowledge and consciousness come closest together, but, at the same time, they deviate from each other, since consciousness, for all the intimacy of its subjective union with the ego, does not objectivize the ego or anything else with regard to its existence and its acting. This function is performed by acts of self-knowledge themselves. It is to them that every man owes the objectivizing contact with himself and with his actions. Because of self-knowledge consciousness can mirror actions and their relations to the ego. Without it consciousness would be deprived of its immanent meanings so far as man's self is concerned - when it presents itself as the object - and would then exist as if it were suspended in the void. This situation is postulated by the idealists, because it is only then that consciousness may be viewed as the subject producing its own subject matter regardless of any factors outside of it. Had we pursued this line of thought we might be led to ask whether consciousness should not be regarded as a real subject or even whether it, so to speak, does create itself. As already noted, however, such questions are of only peripheral interest in the present study.


Consciousness Opened to the Ego by Self-Knowledge

Owing to self-knowledge the acting subject's ego is cognitively grasped as an object. In this way the person and his action have an objective significance in consciousness. The reflection or mirroring by consciousness, which is not only subjective but also constitutes the basis for subjectivation (about which more will be said later), does not abolish the objective meaningful constituents of the ego or of its actions; rather, it derives them continuously from self-knowledge. The coherence of self-knowledge and consciousness has to be recognized as the basic factor of the equilibrium in the inner life of a person, especially so far as the intellectual structure of the person is concerned. The "subject" man is also the "object"; he is the object for the subject, and he does not lose his objective significance when mirrored by consciousness. In this respect self-knowledge seems prior to consciousness, and cognitively relates it to the ego and its actions, even if consciousness in itself were not intentionally directed toward them. At the same time, self-knowledge sets, so to speak, a limit to consciousness, the limit beyond which the process of subjectivation cannot proceed.

What is more, the objectivizing turn of self-knowledge toward the ego and toward the actions related to the ego is also a turn to consciousness as such, so far as consciousness also becomes the object of self-knowledge. This explains why, when man is conscious of his acting, he also knows he is acting; indeed, he knows he is acting consciously. He is aware of being conscious and of acting consciously. Self-knowledge has as its object not only the person and the action, but also the person as being aware of himself and aware of his action. This awareness is objectivized by self-knowledge. Thus the objective meaning in what consciousness reflects appertains not to any being or any acting of the person who is my own self, but solely to the being and the acting that involves consciousness and of which I am aware. Man has the self-knowledge of his being conscious and because of it he is aware of the consciousness of his being and acting. But the process does not extend indefinitely; the limit to the reflecting of consciousness is set by self-knowledge. If, on the one hand, it provides the basis for this mirroring - because it forms the content of consciousness - then on the other hand, it marks out the boundary circumscribing its own sphere owing to which consciousness is established in the existence of man, and ascertains itself as immanent in the being instead of spiralling away in an unending sequence of "self-subjectivations."

Earlier in this discussion we emphasized the point that conscious-. ness itself was to be seen neither as an individual subject nor as an independent faculty. The subsequent analysis has shown even more clearly that what we understand by "consciousness" has at its roots the same cognitive potentiality as that to which man owes all the processes of comprehension and objectivizing functions. It springs from the common stock of this potentiality, emerging, as it were, from the background of the processes of comprehension and objectivizing cognition; but at the same time, it appears to be seated more deeply inside the personal subject. It is precisely the reason why, as it seems, all interiorization and subjectivation is the work of consciousness - of which more will be said later.


Self-Knowledge as the Basis of Self-Consciousness

That man can be aware not only of his own self and of the actions related to it but also of the consciousness of his actions in relation to the ego appears as the work of self-knowledge. In such phrases as "It is how I became conscious of my action" or "I became conscious of... this or that," we speak of an actualization of a conscious process, though in fact we mean an actualization of a self-knowing process; for consciousness itself cannot make us aware of anything, because this can be achieved only intentionally, that is, by an act of cognition. Nevertheless, since consciousness is intimately united with cognition, we have expressed ourselves correctly.

It is highly symptomatic and not without reason that we have these two terms in our vocabulary. They bring order into many problems of a noetic as well as of an ontological nature and clarify, on the one hand, the objective aspect of the subject and, on the other, that composite and complex structure of the subject's nucleus which is the ego. It is this subjectiveness of the object that we shall now have to analyze. But before we begin we must stress once again that what is meant when speaking of "being conscious of an action" is not just the reflection itself in consciousness of a conscious act but intentional self-knowledge. By this phrase we mean that by an act of self-knowledge I objectivize my action in relation to my person. I objectivize the given essential constituent of my action in the actual acting of my person and not of what would only happen in my person; furthermore, my acting is a conscious event (thus indirectly equivalent to the exercise of the free will), and thus, by being performed according to the will, may have a moral value, positive or negative, and so is either good or evil. All this which is constitutive of the action and objectivized by an act of self-knowledge becomes the "content" of consciousness. This objectivation allows us to see the objective sense of consciousness, that is, the relation of consciousness to the "objective" world. We may thus speak of consciousness from an "objective point of view" by virtue of the meanings of the different objects through which it manifests itself. But we may speak of consciousness from the objective point of view also in a more specific manner with respect to the meaningful structure appertaining in consciousness to the ego, to its mode of being and operations spreading through a radius of interconnectedness. This sense, or more strictly speaking, this set of senses, consciousness owes to self-knowledge. Because of its various senses consciousness appears also in a special modality of "self-consciousness." It is self-knowledge that contributes to the formation of self-consciousness.


The Specific Position of Self-Knowledge in the Totality of Human Cognition

Having outlined the interrelation existing between consciousness and self-knowledge we shall now - before carrying on our analysis of consciousness and in particular of self-consciousness - briefly consider self-knowledge as such. In our approach to the problem we will for the moment ignore the functions of consciousness, as if the concrete ego were nothing else but the object of its own cognition, that is, of self-knowledge.

The preceding analysis has shown that every man's ego constitutes, in a way, a meeting point where all the intentional acts of self-knowledge concentrate. This is the knowledge that at the very point constituted by the objectified ego meets everything in any way connected with or in any way referring to the ego. Hence we have, for instance, moral self-knowledge, which precedes fundamentally the science of morals, not to mention ethics; we have also religious self-knowledge prior to anything we know of religion and theology; or again, there is the social self-knowledge independent from what we know about society, and so on. Self-knowledge is concentrated on the ego as its own proper object and accompanies it to all the domains to which the ego itself extends. Nevertheless, self-knowledge never objectivizes any component of these domains for its own sake but solely and exclusively because of and in relation to the ego.

From the preceding remarks we now see more or less clearly that the function of self-knowledge is opposed to any "egotistic" approach to consciousness, to any approach that would tend to present consciousness (even if only vicariously) in the guise of the "pure ego" -the subject. Nor has self-knowledge anything in common with an objectivizing cognition that would be concerned with an abstracted and generalized ego, with any sort of egology. To self-knowledge the object is the concrete ego itself, the self as such. Indeed, there may be even some question whether "knowledge," which strictly speaking has a general object, is the right term in relation to self-knowledge;'8 for self-knowledge not only has as its object the unique, individual ego, the self, but is also permanently and inextricably entangled in the details referring to the ego. In our analysis we have in focus "self-cognition" rather than "self-knowledge." It consists in the acts of objectivizing penetration of the ego with all its concreteness and its concomitant detailedness, which yields to no generalization whatever. But even so, it is still the real knowledge of oneself as an integral whole; for it is not restricted only to the recording of details that have a bearing upon the ego but continuously strives after generalizations. Such generalizations are, for instance, all the opinions one has of oneself or judgments of oneself, which belong to self-knowledge, and it alone can form them. It is to be noted, however, that these opinions - any overall view of the ego - are mirrored in consciousness; thus, not only are the singular data which have a bearing upon the ego mirrored in consciousness but, in addition, the continuously developing overall complex that the ego keeps on unfolding. In the opinions about this complex there is never just one self-knowing theory of one's own ego, for they also have an axiological character, which varies with respect to different moral points of view, the aspect of value being of no less importance for self-knowledge.

Self-knowledge is not just a specific instance of the knowledge of the human being in general, even though the ego, which it strives to objectivize as comprehensively as possible, is, both from the ontological and intentional points of view - as the object of self-knowledge -a human being. Nevertheless, all the cognitive work it performs proceeds solely from self-experience to self-understanding but does not go as far as to include any generalizations about man as such. There is in our cognition a subtle but precisely marked out boundary between the knowledge of man in general and self-knowledge, the knowledge of the ego. The knowledge of the ego, however, might in its concreteness come prior to the knowledge of man. Yet it draws upon it, because self-knowledge of my very self makes use of all I know about man in general, that is to say, of different opinions about the human being I might hold or only know about, as well as of the cognition of concrete men, in order to gain a better understanding of my own ego and the ego as such. But it does not resort to the knowledge of its own self for a better understanding of other men or of the human being in general. The knowledge of man, in general, turns to the resources of self-knowledge to obtain a deeper insight into its own object. Self-knowledge, on the contrary, as we have mentioned takes the knowledge of man into consideration, but in its direct orientation stops at the ego and keeps to its singular specific cognitive intention; for it is in the ego that man always finds fresh material for cognizing himself. The old adage says, individuum est ineffabile.



Mirroring and Experience

The analysis of self-knowledge gives us a better understanding of that function of consciousness which we have assigned to it previously, namely, the function of mirroring; in this respect consciousness is not restricted to a simple mirroring of everything that constitutes the object of cognition and knowledge - and specially the object of self-understanding and self-knowledge - but it also in its own peculiar manner permeates and illuminates all it mirrors. We do not mean by that to deprive consciousness of its specifically characteristic cognitive vitality.19 In point of fact, all that has been said here about self-knowledge may lead to the false impression that the reflecting or mirroring function of consciousness may appear lost in self-knowledge, in the objectivizing processes of self-comprehension, which concentrates on the ego as the object. The question may then well be asked whether in view of the prominent role assigned to self-knowledge there are any reasons for the distinctive existence of consciousness at all. This question leads to another, of a methodological nature: how has the conception of consciousness here outlined been reached, and, particularly, how did we come to the conception of the relation of consciousness to self-knowledge? Obviously, these questions are of paramount significance in view of both the foregoing remarks and the forthcoming analyses.

To answer them it is necessary to recall that in this study the approach to consciousness is founded on experience, which allows for the objectivation of the full human dynamism, in particular the dynamism already referred to in the title of The Acting Person. Thus the interpretation of consciousness in its relation to self-knowledge already assumes, albeit antecedently, the total, overall conception of the man-person, which we intend to develop in the course of this study. In that approach the decisive factor for unraveling the problem of the consciousness-self-knowledge relation seems to be the question of the objectiveness and the simultaneous subjectiveness of man. Consciousness is the "ground" on which the ego manifests itself in all its peculiar objectiveness (1)eing the object of self-knowledge) and at the same time fully experiences its own subjectiveness. We thus have emerging into view the other function of consciousness, as if another trait of it, which in the living structure of the person complements the permeative and illuminative function of mirroring, and in a way endows consciousness with the ultimate reason for its presence in the specific structure of the acting person.

Attention was already drawn on more than one occasion to the fact that the tasks of consciousness do not end with its illuminative and reflecting function. In some respects this function might appear primary but not unique. In fact, the essential function of consciousness is to form man's experience and thus to allow him to experience in a special way his own subjectiveness. This is precisely why, if we are also to understand the "acting person" and the "action" issuing from the person so far as this constitutes an experience - hence in the experiential dimension of the person's subjectiveness - we cannot restrict our analysis of consciousness solely to its mirroring. The task of consciousness does not end with the reflecting of an action in its relation to the ego - this takes place as if on the outside but proceeds into the inner dimension. The mirror of consciousness gives us a yet deeper insight into the interior of actions and of their relation to the ego, and it is only there that the role of consciousness comes into full view. Consciousness allows us not only to have an inner view of our actions (immanent perception) and of their dynamic dependence on the ego, but also to experience these actions as actions and as our own.

It is in this sense that we say man owes to consciousness the subjectivation of the objective. Subjectivation is to some extent identifiable with experiencing; at least, it is in experience that we become aware of it. While constituting a definite reality which as the object of self-knowledge reveals itself in its own peculiar objectiveness, the acting person, owing to his consciousness, also becomes "subjectified" to the extent to which consciousness conditions his experience of the action being performed by him as the person, and thereby secures the experience had of the person in its dynamically efficacious relation to action. But then, everything that constitutes the intentional, objective "world" of the person also becomes subjectified in the same way. This "world," with its objective content, may be analyzed also in its image mirrored in consciousness. But it is then, if it becomes the material of experience, definitely incorporated into the sphere of the individual subjectiveness of every human ego. Thus, for instance, a mountain landscape cognitively reflected in my consciousness and the same landscape in my experience based on this reflection become superimposed on each other, albeit they also subtly differ from each other.


Experience of the Ego Conditioned by the Reflexive Function of Consciousness

In connection with all that has been said so far we have now to mention a new trait of consciousness, one with a new, distinctly separate function, which differs from the illuminative, reflecting function already described, and thus having a constitutive significance. We call it reflexive and assume it appertains to consciousness itself as well as to what the so-called actual state of consciousness is composed of, to that specific resultant of acts of consciousness. This state of consciousness points not only to the mirroring and all that is reflected or mirrored at any given moment, but also to experience, in which the subjectiveness of man, as the subject having the experience, gains a special (1)ecause experiential) prominence. It is in this sense that the reflexive trait or reflexiveness of consciousness denotes that consciousness, so to speak, turns back naturally upon the subject, if thereby the subjectiveness of the subject is brought into prominence in experience.

The reflexiveness of consciousness has to be distinguished from reflection proper to the human mind in its cognitive acts. Reflection presupposes the intentionality of these acts, their cognitive direction upon the object. If we consider the activity of the mind at the level of abstract "thinking," then we might say that "thought" becomes reflective when we turn toward a previously performed act in order to grasp more fully its objective content and possibly also its character, course, or structure. Thus reflective "thought" becomes an important element in the development of all understanding, of all knowledge, including the knowledge of the ego. Hence reflection accompanies and serves consciousness. But reflection and reflectiveness are of themselves insufficient when it comes to constituting an experience. This necessitates a special turning back upon the subject, and it is to this turn that we owe, along with experience, the emphasized subjectiveness of the experiencing ego. It is this particular mode of the constitutive function as proper to consciousness that we define as "reflexive," whereby we mean that it directs everything back upon the subject. In this perspective we speak of the reflexiveness and not the reflectiveness of consciousness.

The function of consciousness, in which it turns back upon the subject, differs from the mirroring and reflecting when the self-knowledge of man, who is the subject and the ego, is present as the object. The consequence of the reflexive turn of consciousness is that this object - just because it is from the ontological point of view, the subject - while having the experience of his own ego also has the experience of himself as the subject. In this interpretation we also understand by "reflexiveness" an essential as well as very specific moment of consciousness. It is, however, necessary to add at once that this specific moment becomes apparent only when we observe and trace consciousness in its intrinsic, organic relation to the human being, in particular, the human being in action. We then discern clearly that it is one thing to be the subject, another to be cognized (that is, objectivized) as the subject, and a still different thing to experience one's self as the subject of one's own acts and experiences. (The last distinction we owe to the reflexive function of consciousness.) This discrimination is of tremendous import for all our further analyses, which we shall have to make in our efforts to grasp the whole dynamic reality of the acting person and to account for the subjectiveness that is given us in experience.

Indubitably, man is more than just the subject of his being and his acting; he is the subject insofar as he is a being of determinate nature, which leads to consequences particularly in the acting. Man approached as a type of being, that is, from the ontological point of view, appears - in contradistinction to processes, events, and ideas -as an autonomous, self-centered individual being. In this fundamental notion, abstraction is made from that aspect of consciousness owing to which the concrete man - the object being the subject -experiences himself as the distinctive subject. It is this experience that allows him to designate himself by means of the pronoun L We know I to be a personal pronoun, always designating a concrete person. However, the denotation of this personal pronoun, thus also of the ego, appears more comprehensive than that of the autonomous individual being, because the first combines the moment of experienced subjectiveness with that of ontic subjectiveness, while the second speaks only of the latter, of the individual being as the ground of existence and action.20 Obviously, the present interpretation of the ego relies upon the conception of consciousness being unfolded here, as does its relation to man as the real subject. We may even say that it implies the reflexiveness of consciousness; for if we detach that experience of our subjectiveness, which is the ground for my saying, "I am the ego," from the real subject that this particular ego is, then this experiential ego would represent nothing but a content of consciousness. Hence the fundamental significance of the reflexive turn of consciousness upon the real subject, whereby consciousness co-constitutes it in its own dimension. It is thus that the ego is the real subject having the experience of its subjectiveness or, in other words, constituting itself in consciousness.


The Ego Constituted as the Subject

What has been said so far clearly shows that conformably with the epistemological assumptions made in the introduction it is impossible to detach the experiential ego from its ontological foundations. The present analysis of consciousness ought even to have grounded the ego on a more secure ontic basis of its own. Every human being is given in a total or simple experience as an autonomous, individual real being, as existing and acting. But every man is also given to himself as the concrete ego, and this is achieved by means of both self-consciousness and self-knowledge. Self-knowledge ascertains that the being, who objectively is I, subjectively constitutes my ego, if it is in it that I have the experience of my subjectiveness. Hence not only am I conscious of my ego (on the ground of self-knowledge) but owing to my consciousness in its reflexive function I also experience my ego, I have the experience of myself as the concrete subject of the ego's very subjectiveness. Consciousness is not just an aspect but also an essential dimension or an actual moment of the reality of the being that I am, since it constitutes its subjectiveness in the experiential sense. This being, which in its ontic structure is basically a real individual object, would never without consciousness constitute itself as the ego. It seems that this is how we have to interpret the manner in which consciousness is incorporated into the ontological structure of the being that is man if we are to bring out in the correct proportions his subjectiveness, that is, the subjectiveness that makes of every concrete human being the unique, individual ego.

It is perhaps worth considering still another aspect of the way that our discussion of consciousness leads from its mirroring function to experience, and not inversely, as is current in present-day philosophy. Consciousness, as we view it here, is a specific dimension of that unique real being which is the concrete man. That being is neither overshadowed by nor absorbed in consciousness, albeit this would be the case according to the fundamental tenet of idealistic thought that esse equals percipi; for idealists maintain that "to be" is the same as to be constituted by consciousness, and do not recognize any mode of being apart from consciousness and consciousness alone.2 Our approach to the matter however is the opposite: consciousness in intimate union with the ontologically founded being and acting of the concrete man-person does not absorb in itself or overshadow this being, its dynamic reality, but, on the contrary, discloses it "inwardly" and thereby reveals it in its specific distinctness and unique concreteness. This disclosing is precisely what the reflexive function of consciousness consists in. We may even say that owing to the reflexive function of consciousness man's being is directed, as it were, "inward," but still maintains the full dimensions of his rational essence. Being directed "inward" is accompanied by experiencing, and is, to some extent, identical with experience. In this interpretation an experience is seen as manifesting more than a reflex that appears as though on the surface of man's being and acting. Indeed, experience is that specific form of the actualization of the human subject which man owes to consciousness. Because of it the actual "energies" which we discover through action in man as a type of being - the energies, which, when taken together, constitute the multifarious and differentiated wealth of his virtualities - are actualized according to the pattern of subjectiveness proper to man as a person (more will be said of this in further chapters). Moreover, while so actualized they receive in experience their final, so to say, subjective shape.22 Later we shall see that this is not equally true of all human energies.


The Experiential Manifestation of Human Spirituality

Consciousness, as long as it only mirrors and is but a reflected image, remains objectively aloof from the ego; when, however, it becomes the basis of experience, when experience is constituted by its reflexiveness, the objective aloofness disappears and consciousness penetrates the subject shaping it experientially every time an experience occurs. Naturally, the mirroring and the shaping of the subject are accomplished in different ways: to mirror consciousness one retains the objective meaning of the subject - its so to speak objective status - but one shapes the ego in the pure subjectiveness of experience. This is very important. On the one hand, the functional duality in consciousness allows us to remain within the limits of our subjectiveness without losing the actual objectiveness in the awareness of our being. On the other hand, the fact that our experience is formed because of consciousness, that without consciousness there is no human experience - though there may be different manifestations of life, different actualizations of human virtualities - is in its own way explained by the attribute rationale from the Aristotelian conception and definition of man, or by the Boethian conception and definition of man as rationalis naturae individua substantia. Furthermore, consciousness opens the way to the emergence of the spiritual enactment of the human being and gives us an insight into it. The spiritual aspect of man's acts and action manifests itself in consciousness, which allows us to undergo the experiential innerness of our being and acting. Although it seems that the foundations, or rather the roots of human spirituality, lie beyond the direct scope of experience - we only reach them by inference - spirituality itself has its distinctive experiential expression shaping itself through the complete sequence of its manifestations. This is brought to light in the intimate and in a way constitutive relation between experience proper to man and the reflexive function of consciousness. Indeed, man's experience of himself and of everything making him up, of all his "world," is necessarily occurring in a rational framework of reference, for such is the nature of consciousness, and it determines the nature of experience as well as man as an experiencing being.


Consciousness and the Experience of Action in the Dimension of Moral Values

How does man have the experience of himself in action? We already know he is conscious of himself as the one who acts, as the subjective agent of action. A separate question concerns how we are to understand the mirroring of the action in consciousness when it extends beyond the subjective sphere of man and is, so to speak, enacted in the external world. But even then man has the experience of his actions within the limits of his own subjectiveness and this experience, like any other, he owes to the reflexive function of consciousness. He experiences an action as acting, as doing, of which he is the subjective agent and which is also a profound image and manifestation of what his ego is composed of, what it actually is. He draws a strict distinction between his acting and everything that only takes place or happens in his ego. Here the difference between actio and passio has its first experiential basis. The distinction itself cannot be but the deed of self-knowledge; it belongs to the significative aspect of the mirroring function of consciousness. But it is also present in experience: the human being experiences his acting as something thoroughly different from anything that only happens, anything only occurring in him.

It is also only in connection with his acting (that is, action) that man experiences as his own the moral value of good and bad (or as is sometimes wrongly said, of the moral and immoral). He experiences them in the attitude he assumes toward them, an attitude that is at once emotional and appreciative. At any rate, he is not only conscious of the morality of his actions but he actuajly experiences it, often very deeply.

Objectively, both action and moral values belong to a real subject, that is, to man as their agent, from a point of view equally formal as existential; simply, they exhibit in their being the derivative type of reality that is in a specific manner related to and dependent on the subject. Simultaneously, both the action and its corresponding moral value - goodness or badness - function, if we may say so, in a thoroughly subjective manner in experience - which consciousness conditions by its reflexive function rather than only mirroring it because of self-knowledge, for this would still give but an objectified awareness of the action and its moral value.23 As is to be seen, both functions of consciousness participate in this remarkable drama of human innerness, the drama of good and evil enacted on the inner stage of the human person by and among his actions. Thus consciousness, owing to its mirroring function closely related to self-knowledge, allows us, on the one hand, to gain an objective awareness of the good or evil that we are the agents of in any particular action - while, on the other hand, it enables us to experience the good or evil in which its reflexiveness is manifested. As already noted, this experience is by no means merely an added or superficial reflexing of an action or of its moral qualification as good or evil. On the contrary, what we are considering here has a reflexively inward direction that makes of the action itself as well as of the moral good or bad the fully subjective reality of man. In the human subjectiveness they get their, so to speak, finishing touches. It is then that man has the experience of good or evil simply in himself, in his ego; he thereby experiences himself as the one who is either good or evil. So we come to see the full dimension of morality in the subjective and personal reality.


How Does the Ego Help in Understanding Man?

The "full dimension" is also the dimension of that experience in which the good and the evil, as the moral values of a person, as well as the acting person himself become the object of comprehension or exfoliation; indeed, this exfoliation is always becoming more and more profound, a point already asserted in the introductory remarks to this study. Mention was there made that the experience of the human being and of morality served as the ground for an unraveling of the nature of both one and the other. This experience and this exfoliation was unquestionably broader than either the self-experience or the simultaneously developing self-comprehending contained in experiencing one's ego. The question we then asked was whether this self-experience (that is, experiencing of one's self) and the self-comprehending that developed with it (that is, the awareness of the self based on self-knowledge) were at all transferable to that ever expanding sphere of man's experience of things external to the ego. This of course is a significant question. We took it up again in our discussion of self-knowledge, and now we have to consider it once more. For there is no denying that the sphere of self-experience and self-comprehending serves as a privileged vantage point, a point specially productive of meanings in experience and in the understanding of man. That is why, while retaining all the specific uniqueness of self-knowledge (see the preceding section) as well as of the experience had of the ego, we strive in one way or another to draw our knowledge of man from the source of self-experience and self-knowledge. This happens presumably because from the very start we take, as it were, a double stance: beginning "inside" ourselves we go out of our ego toward "man" and at the same time we proceed from "man" back to the ego. Thus our knowledge of man proceeds as if in cycles. This course of the cognitive process is obviously valid, if the object of our cognition is not to be our ego alone but also the human being - all the more so if the human being is among others "myself," when he is also my ego.





The Element of Consciousness and the Emotive Element in Man

We now have to consider a particular problem, which should be preceded by a brief reference to its broader context. But as the full presentation is deferred to a later chapter, here, as in the rest of the present analysis of consciousness, some account is necessary of things discussed later in greater detail. The problem we will now examine is that special area of human vitality which has its origin in the emotive element of his psychic processes. We know that man's conscious actings, his actions, are on the one side dependent in different ways on the functioning of the emotive element of man's psychic life, and on the other side generate it and are themselves constituted by it to some degree. The free exercise of the will, which has an essential significance for actions, is variously modified by this side of the human psyche. These modifications are of great import for our investigation into the person and his actions. First, however, we have to look at them as an aspect, or perhaps a dimension, of consciousness - of consciousness such as we have shown it here, as if it were isolated and brought to the forefront of our argument.

Consciousness reflects man's ego as well as his actions; but, at the same time, it allows him to have the experience of the ego, to have the experience of himself and of his acting. His body is somehow engaged in the one just as in the other. Man is conscious of his body, and he also experiences it; he has the experience of his corporality just as he has of his sensuality and emotionality. These experiences are linked with the mirroring function of consciousness and hence are also guided by self-knowledge, whose participation is easily noticeable in a certain abstractness of what becomes the content of consciousness and is subsequently experienced. After all, to have the experience of one's body is not the same thing as to have the experience of one's corporality. The difference lies in the degree of the mental abstraction which pertains to the process of comprehension and, in relation to the ego, to the process of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge builds that significative aspect of the image we have of ourselves in our consciousness which is transferred in the operation of the reflexive function of consciousness to experience and which determines its content. In the acts of self-knowledge man, with the support of self-experience, gains an understanding of his ego both in details and as a whole. As to the comprehension of the body, self-knowledge - and with it consciousness - relies to a great extent on the particular bodily sensations. We know that neither the organism, with all its composite inner structure, nor the particular vegetative processes going on in it are - generally speaking - the object of self-knowledge or consciousness. Self-knowledge, and with it consciousness, reaches only as far, or rather as deep, into the organism and its life as sensations allow it to reach. Very often, for instance, owing to disease, which activates the corresponding bodily sensations, man becomes aware of one of his organs or of a vegetative process within himself. Generally, the human body and everything associated with it becomes the object of sensations first and only subsequently of self-knowledge and consciousness. "First" and "subsequently" do not necessarily indicate an actual time sequence; they are used in the sense of the natural adequacy of the object and of the subjective acts. The experience of the body has as its counterparts acts of sensation rather than acts of comprehension, of which in a way consciousness is built up. Nevertheless, man not only feels his body, but he is also aware of it.

The world of sensations and feelings in man, who is a feeling and not only a thinking creature, has an objective wealth of its own. To some extent this wealth corresponds to the structure of the human being as well as of the external world. The differentiation of feelings is not merely quantitative but also qualitative, and in this respect they come in a hierarchical order. Feelings of qualitatively "higher rank"

participate in man's spiritual life. In a further chapter we shall deal separately with the analysis of emotions as a specific component of the human psychic life. It is common knowledge that the emotional life of man exerts a tremendous influence in the formation of his actions. It is also well known and corroborated by numerous treatises on ethics that emotions may in some respects enhance our actions, but in others they have a restraining or even crippling effect on what in acting is essential, namely, the exercise of the free will. The participation of the free will in acting is restricted to action insofar as it is seen as conscious. Indeed, in this chapter we are concerned with conscious acting - hence also with the exercise of the free will - in the aspect of its being conscious.


What Does the Emotionalization of Consciousness Consist in?

It is only in this aspect that we shall attempt an analysis of the influence exerted by the emotive element. Our discussion is thus limited to one aspect only without aspiring to anything like a total view. We are concerned with what we have agreed to call the "emotionalization of consciousness," that is to say, the specific influence of the emotive element on the consciousness of acting. (Obviously, this influence cannot be without significance for the whole dynamism of the human person, for his conscious acting, for action.)24

The essence of the problem consists in this, that emotions - the different forms in which emotive facts occur in man as the subject -are not only reflected in consciousness but also affect in their own specific way the image that is formed in consciousness of various objects, including, of course, man's ego and his actions. Diverse feelings emotionalize consciousness, that is to say, they blend with its two functions - mirroring and reflexiveness - thereby modifying in one way or another their character. This is first manifested in the image formed in consciousness, which, so to speak, loses its aloofness with regard to emotion and the objects that emotion is attached to. As was demonstrated in previous analyses, this aloofness of consciousness is due to self-knowledge, which to some extent p05sesses the power to objectify emotions and feelings. In this way the meaning of the emotive facts taking place in the subject becomes accessible to consciousness, and thus it can maintain its objectivizing aloofness from them and from the objects they refer to. While emotions themselves occur or happen in man, he is aware of them, and owing to this awareness he can in a way control them. The control of emotions by consciousness has a tremendous significance for the inner integration of man. Obviously, the sway consciousness exerts over emotion is not achieved outside the sphere of the will and without its cooperation. Hence it is only against the background of such control that we can form moral values. We are thus faced with the fact of interpenetration of consciousness and the will; the control of consciousness over the spontaneous emotive dynamism conditioning the exercise of the free will - the proper function of the will - is simultaneously conditioned by the will.

The emotionalization of consciousness begins when the image of the meanings of the particular emotive instances and of objects they are related to fades in consciousness, so that feelings may outgrow their current understanding by man. This is practically tantamount to a breakdown of self-knowledge; for consciousness, without ceasing to mirror the emotive distances just as they come, loses its controlling, that is to say, its objective, attitude toward them. We know that in this case objectivation is a function appertaining to self-knowledge. The objective attitude of consciousness toward feelings and emotions occurring in man and toward objects they are attached to collapses when self-knowledge stops, as it were, to objectivize. It no longer establishes the meanings and so does not hold emotions in intellectual subjection.

What are the reasons? They may be different. The one most often suggested mentions the strength or intensity of emotions, their changeability, and the rapidity with which they follow one after another. But this explains only one side of the problem. On the other side we have to consider also the higher or lower efficiency of self-knowledge; like any other knowledge it has to comply with the laws of efficiency, so that its ability to cope with its proper object may vary. (The reference here is to objective material, which for self-knowledge consists of all the facts related to the ego, and such are of course emotive facts.) Let us stress once again that we are not speaking of the effective "control" of emotions as such, which is the task of the will (and of the relevant moral virtues of the Aristotelian conception) but only of that specific control of feelings which is the task of self-knowledge and consciousness. (An attempt at explaining the relationship between feelings and emotions is deferred to a later chapter, which deals with problems of emotiveness.)

The task of self-knowledge in this respect is essential, and that is why its efficiency is so important. It seems that consciousness itself is not subject to the laws of efficiency. We do not see it as being either less or more efficient, though it may be less developed and mature, or more so. The efficiency side of consciousness seems to be wholly taken over by self-knowledge. Indeed, the task of self-knowledge is to prevent the emotionalization of consciousness from going too far, to protect consciousness from being deprived of its objectivizing relation to the totality of emotive occurrences. Feelings in the subject that is man come as if in waves. Sometimes they swell - they come in whole sequences, or, what is more important, are enhanced. But every man has in him as an objective psychical component a specifically emotive dynamism, which expresses itself in the intensity of the particular feelings, of sets of feelings, or of their resultants. (We may perhaps also speak of resultants of various emotional experiences in man.)


Emotionalization and the Twofold Function of Consciousness: Mirroring and Experience

The normal, indeed, the correct functioning of consciousness requires emotions at a certain level of intensity, albeit when this level - like a threshold - is exceeded, and the over-emotionalization of consciousness begins. If feelings are either too many or too strong, or if the efficiency of self-knowledge is too low, then self-knowledge is incapable of objectifying, that is to say, of intellectually identifying them. In this way the significative aspect of occurrences having an emotive character is, as it were, lost. At first consciousness still mirrors them as "something that happens in me," but when their intensity is further enhanced or self-knowledge becomes for the time less effective, consciousness still mirrors the occurrences as "something that happens," though now it is as if they had lost their relation to the ego. The core itself of consciousness - the ego - is then rushed to the background while the enhanced feelings behave as if they are uprooted from the soil in which their unity as well as the multiplicity and separate identity of their meanings develop. For it is self-knowledge that in the normal course of events objectivizes both this unity within the ego and the separate identity of the meanings of the particular emotions. Nevertheless, when over-emotionalization, especially in its extreme forms, gains ascendency, emotions are taking over directly the field of actual consciousness, which still continues to mirror them; but now their reflection is devoid of the element of objectivation or comprehension, because this is no longer provided by self-knowledge. Man is then aware of his emotions, but he does not control them any more.

Emotionalization in the sphere of the mirroring function of consciousness is accompanied by an emotionalization of experience. The assertion here made is that consciousness does not cease to mirror even in a state of the utmost intensity of emotions and feelings, and even then we still can discern its mirroring; now, however, this function no longer has its proper significance for the formation of experiences had in the emotional sphere of the whole inner life of man. Thus the reflexive function of consciousness, which is responsible for the formation of experience, loses its decisive role. It is remarkable that emotions and passions are not experienced by the human being when too strong; they are then only "undergone" by him or, strictly speaking, allowed to grow in him and prevail upon him in some primitive and, as it were, impersonal fashion; for "personal" signifies only that experience in which also the experienced subjectiveness of the ego is to be discerned. This being so, emotive instances in the form of passions, though they have their own primitive subjectivity, do not help to experience subjectiveness in a way that brings into prominence the personal ego as the source of experiences, as the center governing emotions. All this, however, is connected with the reflexive influence of consciousness. This influence is often hindered by impulsions of invading feelings, in the face of which the reflexive function of consciousness is, so to say, inhibited. Man then only experiences his emotions and allows them to dwell in him according to their own primitive forms of subjectivity, but does not experience them subjectively in a way that would bring out the personal ego as the true pivot of experience.

We now see the full complexity of the emotionalization of consciousness which presents throughout a particular and thus unique problem. Sometimes even the most powerful emotions may fail to over-emotionalize consciousness in the sense here considered, so that emotions remain under the control of consciousness. Sometimes, on the contrary, emotionalization of consciousness is stimulated by emotions that are (objectively considered) still relatively weak. But we do not intend to analyze these things here; what we are now interested in is - as we tried to show in the preceding section - the essence itself of the problem, especially from the point of view of consciousness, and that co-constituting of the personal subjectiveness of the human ego in which consciousness takes part. The emotional threshold mentioned earlier seems to be the necessary condition in the truly human, personal experiencing of emotions and, in this sense, also emotional experiences. As long as the intensity of feelings remains at a certain level, consciousness performs normally its mirroring and reflexive functions. It is only then that the genuine emotional experiences, with all their subjective completeness, are formed - instead of the primitive emotive occurrences, which, though they indubitably proceed from the subject, cannot be endued by consciousness with the subjective profile appertaining to the personal ego. This is so because the emotionalization of consciousness obstructs or even prevents its proper actualization.

In all that was said above no final pronouncements about the value of feelings and emotions for the inner life of man and for morality should be seen. The discussion of these questions is deferred to another chapter.





Subjectivity Inherent in the Reality of the Acting Person

The preceding analyses have brought us to the point when it becomes possible, and even in a way necessary, to discriminate clearly between man's "subjectivity" - which we are here considering together with the analysis of consciousness - and "subjectivism" as a mental attitude. To have shown the subjectivity of the human person is fundamental for the realistic position of this study. Indeed, man has appeared in our analysis as the subject, and it is he as the subject that is experiencing himself. That is the ground on which the dynamic relation, or rather interrelation, between the person and the action is actualized. The failure to recognize man's subjectivity would deprive us of the level on which can be grasped all the aspects of this interrelation. The aspect of consciousness has an essential significance for asserting man's subjectivity, because it is consciousness that allows man to experience himself as the subject. He experiences himself as such and therefore he "is" the subject in the strictly experiential sense. Here the understanding springs directly from the experience without any intermediate steps, without any recourse to arguments. He also experiences his actions as acts of which he himself is the agent. This efficacy, which we shall discuss fully in the next chapter, is made evident by experience and is seen by us from the aspect of consciousness. Thus, in order to grasp efficacy as a fully experiential datum, it is necessary to come close to experience as well as to man's subjectivity, which is the proper ground of experience. Viewing subjectivity solely from the metaphysical standpoint, and stating that man as a type of being constitutes the true subject of existing and acting, autonomous individual being, we abstract, to a large extent from what is the source of our visualizations, the source of experience. It is far better, therefore, to try to coordinate and join together the two aspects, the aspect of being (man, person) with the aspect of consciousness; the aspect of acts (acting and action) with the aspect of experience.

This is important not only for methodological reasons, which were already discussed in the introduction, but also for the sake of our subject matter. We made this point a moment ago when asserting that without outlining a possibly complete explanation of man's subjectivity it would be impossible to grasp the full depth of the dynamic interrelation of person and action. For the interrelation is not only mirrored in consciousness, as if it were reflected in an inner mirror of man's being and acting; in addition, it is owing to consciousness that it obtains in its own way its final, subjective form. The form is that of experience, the experience of action, the experience had of the efficacious interrelation of person and action, and of the moral value that germinates in this dynamic system. All these are objective data, but data that hold their objectivity and reality status only and exclusively in the subjectivity of man. Without completely revealing this subjectivity it is also impossible to reach and bring to light the whole, objectively multifarious composition of those factual data. It is important to stress, however, that the bias of subjectivism may also develop in connection with a narrow and one-sided bias of objectivism.


The Difference between Subjectivity and Subjectivism

Subjectivism, as here considered, seems to consist first, in a complete separation of experience from action and second, in reducing to the mere status of consciousness and moral values that, as we have figuratively put it, germinate in this action as well as in the person. What we are speaking of now was previously seen as the "absolutization" of a single aspect. The reduction which operates such absolutization of the experiential aspect is characteristic of the specific mental attitude inherent in subjectivism and, in a more distant perspective, in idealism. Indubitably, consciousness is that aspect of man which lends itself to being absolutized: but then it ceases being merely an aspect of the human functioning. As long as consciousness is maintained as merely an aspect - and throughout this chapter we have tried to treat it as such - it serves only to gain a better understanding of the subjectivity of man, in particular of his inner relation to his own actions. However, when consciousness is absolutized, it at once ceases to account for the subjectivity of man, that is to say, his being the subject, or for his actions; and it becomes a substitute for the subject. Subjectivism conceives consciousness itself as a total and exclusive subject - the subject of experiences and values, so far as the domain of moral experience is concerned. Unfortunately, with this approach, experiences and values lose their status of reality; they cease being anything real and remain only as the moment of consciousness: esse = percipL25 Ultimately consciousness itself ceases being anything real: it becomes but the subject of a meaningful network. The path of subjectivism ends in idealism.

We may even say that this trend has some support in the purely conscious character of the "acts of consciousness." It was asserted earlier that acts of consciousness as such and consciousness as wholly contained in them are neutral or indifferent to external real things and beings, as well as to the ego conceived as a nucleus of man seen as a real being. They do not establish anything - in the sense of positing its actual existence; rather, they only mirror things. They contain only subject matter which owes its objectiveness and its status of reality to self-knowledge. The boundary of objectivism and realism in the conception of man - in our case this applies to the person-action totality - is marked out by the assertion of self-knowledge. In spite of its specifically conscious character, consciousness integrated by self-knowledge into the whole of a real person retains its objective significance and thus also the objective status in the subjective structure of man. In this perspective and due to this status consciousness appears but the key to the subjectivity of man, and so it in no way can serve as the basis for subjectivism. It owes its role in human subjectivity to its being the condition of experience, in which the human ego reveals itself (experientially) as the object.

Conclusions Leading to the Analysis of Human Efficacy

Now that we have examined the aspects of consciousness in the acting person we are ready for the next step, and we can embark upon an analysis of efficacy. We must retain, however, all the significant conclusions reached so far as a contribution to our further investigations into the dynamism proper to the human person. This dynamism, and in particular the efficacy, which forms an essential moment in the dynamic emergence of action from the person, is not only realized in the field of consciousness but is, as we have tried to show here, also thoroughly pervaded by consciousness. Even if in the course of our discussion we placed the aspect of consciousness somewhat apart and in isolation - like the mathematician who puts an expression outside the brackets - the effect aimed at was to show up more sharply the presence of consciousness in the person's action. Moreover, we could see better the specific function performed by consciousness in the formation of the characteristic subjectivity of the person - the subjectivity from which, because of its virtual efficacy, the action issues.

The features of human efficacy differ from those of consciousness, though obviously the specificity of the former cannot be grasped in isolation from the latter. Each of them in its own specific manner determines both person and action.

Back to Contents