Thursday, December 13, 2012

Awareness, Consciousness, Being, Nature.


 
    For what it's worth, my own interpretation of Walking Stewart's dialectic is this.  There exists a shyness between people, a kind of mistiness..  The work of intellect was to push through this shyness, achieve an understanding of being that was rewarded by the condition of happiness. When this reward was power over others through social position or wealth, happiness could be a result, but there was invariably a corruption of happiness because nothing ever remained the same, even if great efforts were made to ensure that it did.  And here it's well worth quoting Walking Stewart on the English and Berlin intrigue which sought to support the aristocracies of Holland, Flanders and Poland in their opposition to the spread of French Revolutionary fervor.  "Hence the fupport of their own ariftocracy  (those of Holland Flanders and Poland)  the moft abandoned, shameful, of any upon the face of the globe; who not fatisfied to buy one half of their confituents,  hire braves and ruffians to beat the other half into compliance."  Which was a circumstance in which happiness was clearly unattainable for anyone, unless happiness was an ill-defined word, which meant also something like "miferable paffions," or "mifanthropy."   And so, intellect would necessarily push through the mist to again achieve an understanding of being that was rewarded by happiness.

     Walking Stewart doesn't use the word "being" in his long view of the world and its people.  He prefers to think of it as "confcioufnefs," and it's relationship to what he called the  "pre-eminence of thought, or mental powers."  And in this respect he was certainly similar in his understanding to Hegel, who preferred to use the word "spirit" in his search for a noun that might serve as a descriptive vehicle around which to build the idea of what it is a person might be.  That part which is "I."    An unidentifiable phenomenon that nonetheless identifies itself.    And which is presumably going somewhere.   For Walking Stewart this "going somewhere" was  "moral motion or knowledge of felf."  Consciousness and thought, because they were never still, and especially when rendered miserable, would conspire.  And then "arrive at the goal of intellectual exiftence, when confcioufnefs and thought will augment the happinefs fought after, and procured in an enlightened ftate of nature."    Discourse between consciousness and thought, in other words, would 'augment' the chase after happiness, and it was this motion of chasing or pursing or looking for understandings, that came from "nature."  It was this word "nature" Stewart used when he thought about the thing that we are.  For him consciousness was more like awareness than it was like the word I am so prone to use which is "being."    And I agree the eighteenth century use of  the letters F and S, is on the one hand hysterical and on the other hand frustrating.  



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