Conscious as Cum-scioâ or as Co-conscious
Conscience. Noun. An inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the Tightness or wrongness of one’s behavior: he had a guilty conscience about his desires. origin. Middle English (also in the sense inner thoughts or knowledgeâ). (The New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1999)
And this was capable from then on of freeing me from all repentance and remorse which habitually agitate the consciences of those weak and wavering minds which allow themselves to proceed with vacillation to practice as being good things which they judge afterwards to be bad. (Descartes, 1637, Discourse on Method, Discourse, 3, p. 47)
In the seventeenth century, the word conscious had another meaning, closer to its Latin etymology. The first meaning of the word conscious in Latin, such as it evolved in ancient Rome, is that of a shared knowledge (cum-scio, knowledge withâ). This term was originally used in court proceedings. A fact became conscious for the ancient Romans when the court could establish, with the testimony of witnesses, a version of the facts that could be accepted by all. Hobbes14 perfectly summarizes the meaning of this term at that time: When two, or more men, know of one and the same fact, they are said to be conscious of it one to another; which is as much as know it togetherâ (Hobbes, 1651, I.7.31, p. 50).
The Latin word conscientia means complicity, confidence, intimate knowledge, conviction.15 This brings us back to the transpersonal dimension of the mind; but this dimension is examined from another angle than the one I brought up in the sections dedicated to platonic Idealism For Descartes and Hobbes, there is consciousness when many people think that others have a thought similar to theirs. Consciousness is like a kind of electric plug of the mind that allows it to branch out on a network of social communication. The distinction is important. In one case, we have individual thoughts that influence only the individual who has them In the other case, we have thoughts that circulate from soul to soul and form the support of the social networks, like justice, ideologies, art, or science. To know that we are many who follow a law or accept that the Earth turns around the sun is consciousness. In that sense, according to Hobbes, animals would not have consciousness.