Art and the Conscious Mind- Lecture 4

One of the most puzzling things about consciousness is that it creates the possibility of reflecting on itself. This can be regarded as the self-awareness of the conscious mind.

The mirror test is often seen as a indicator of self-awareness. It is not only humans who have this ability to recognise themselves.

elephant intelligence mark test mirror test

Antonio Damasio outlined the fundamentals of self-awareness, these being core self and one’s autobiographical self.  Counter arguments to this include Thomas Metsinger who denies the existence of self.

“No such things as selves exist in the world. For all scientific and philosophical purposes, the notion of self- as a theoretical entity- can be safely eliminated” Metzinger, 2005, Precis for Being No One, pg.3

What we imagine to  be our self is just a model of the self we imagine exists in order to explain our day to day existence.

Can you think about yourself, thinking about yourself?

Paradox of introspection (Schooler and Schreiber)

What we believe we are thinking can be different from what we are actually thinking. People do not realise their minds have wandered, or are not aware of mental responses that are given away by physiological behaviour.

Self-consciousness is not part of the mind but the result of different parts of the mind reflecting on each other.

Self-awareness in art.

597px-Self-portrait_by_Johannes_GumppJohannes Gumpp, 1646, self portrait

“‘Someone is watching him over his shoulder’ and catching him in the art of painting. He is painting him while he is painting. This someone is the fictitious author of the whole painting. ‘Fictitious’ because he is presenting himself as another; ‘author,’ because he has left us a painting which is none other than Gumpp himself. It is ‘Gumpp’ who claims to be an ‘other’: the one who is looking ‘over his shoulder,’ the ‘Gumpp’ painting the image of himself.” Stoichita, pg.245

attempting-the-impossible-1928(1)Magritte, Attempting the Impossible, 1928

“Magritte’s love of paradox was not merely capricious. It was motivated by a profound metaphysical distrust of all non-paradoxical assertions about reality. Such assertions are always the product of a limited and partial experience.” Robert Witkin, pg.184


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