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Transformations in consciousness: continuity, the self and marginal consciousness

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The term ‘consciousness’ is usually reserved only for the focus of attention. This restriction empties the phenomenology of consciousness of some of its richness. Rather than conceiving of consciousness as one-dimensional, researchers should consider that consciousness has a three-dimensional organization. Conscious presentations are structured in a focus, context and margin pattern. Inclusion of these other dimensions of consciousness as consciousness (rather than, for example, as unconsciousness) is important for an adequate relation between scientific method and phenomenology. The problem becomes especially acute when transformations in consciousness -- attentional and temporal continuity -- are considered. Using Aron Gurwitsch's work, this paper presents an alternative to Galen Strawson's view of consciousness and the self, as an example of the usefulness of this fuller conception of consciousness. I argue here that there is significant attentional and temporal continuity in consciousness, and that this continuity provides for a sense of the self as a distinct, but continuous experience.

Keywords: Gurwitsch; Strawson; consciousness; context; field; focus; gestalt-shift; margin; phenomenology; self; stream; temporality; theme; transformation; types of attention

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Seattle University, Seattle, WA 98122, USA.

Publication date: March 1, 2000


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