the word "consciousness" is often loosely used and has a variety of meanings. More commonly it is used in one of two meanings. It means first "the mind's awareness of its own processes," or "the immediate knowledge which the mind has of its sensations and thoughts." In this sense it is a kind of subject-object consciousness and involves distinction, contrast, polarity, and may have arisen in the process of evolution in the stress and tension experienced by an organism in adjusting itself to new and adverse situations. In the second sense, however, "consciousness is identified with mind, and 'conscious' with 'mental.' Mind and consciousness mean the same thing. To be conscious is just to have a mental process. Now it is in this second sense, as we are told, that the word is correctly used in psychology.
It would seem then that we have merely a new word for the old thing, for it is clearly stated that the word "consciousness" when correctly used means just the same as the word "mind" and to be conscious is to have a mental or psychical experience. Consciousness is just a comprehensive word to designate all sorts of "psychical" processes, such as thoughts, feelings, volitions, impulses, pains and pleasures. Now the word "psychical" is wholly orthodox in modern psychology. It is sometimes used in a broader sense than the word "mental" and is expressly applied to any phenomenon which is subject matter of the science. But the English word "soul," corresponding to the Greek ψνχή is the noun correlative with the adjective "psychical." Consciousness, therefore, when "correctly" used, is not the consciousness indicated by the etymology of the word nor the subject-object consciousness of Locke, Dugald Stewart and historical psychology, but just a new word, a synonym for soul, having an old form and another meaning.
Now the reason why a new word was needed is simply this. The words "soul" and "mind," owing to their metaphysical and theological associations, have become obnoxious. The word "soul" in particular suggests something over and above our mere inner experiences, some "substance," which may perhaps leave the body and be "immortal." Interest in "immortality" has waned and the notion of "substance" adds nothing to our notion of psychological phenomena. Hence, owing to quite fortuitous reasons, the good old Saxon word "soul," which has indeed a much more spotless history than the word "consciousness," has been sacrificed. This perhaps was inevitable, but it is unfortunate that the new word is one having rightfully another
- Titchener, "A Text Book of Psychology," p. 17.
- Dugald Stewart, quoted by Titchener, loc. cit.
- Compare Bawden, "The Psychological Theory of Evolution," Journal of Comparative Neurology, Vol. XL, No. 3, p. 263.
- Titchener, op. cit., p, 18.