The ultimate object of all consciousness

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The same distinction is applicable to mental as well as to bodily phenomena. I feel an emotion of anger; I am conscious of its presence now, as a definite state of mind distinguishable from others. This consciousness is presentative.

When the angry fit is over, I meditate upon my past state, and recall in imagination the emotion which I have experienced. This consciousness is representative. Presentative consciousness contains two constituent elements—the conscious subject, and the object of which that subject is conscious.

Representative consciousness contains three elements—the subject, the object (i.e. the image), and the concept or general notion mediating between them. A fourth element is implied as a condition, though not actually present in consciousness—viz. the original intuition from which the notion was derived, and which the object or image represents.

The ultimate object of all consciousness is thus an individual; for all intuitions are directly cognisant of individuals; and all concepts, to be realised in consciousness, require to be individualised in an image. Without the application of this test we should not be able to distinguish between the conceivable and the inconceivable; between signs indicative of notions and signs indicative of no notions at all.

I may define a triangle, as a rectilinear figure of three sides; and I may also define a biangle as a rectilinear figure of two sides; and nothing but the attempt to construct the corresponding images can show me that the one term denotes a conceivable object, and that the other is an inconceivable piece of nonsense.

***Excerpt from Henry Longueville Mansel, B.d.. Metaphysics or the philosophy of consciousness