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Difference Between Consciousness and Self

consciousness_bookConsciousness vs Self

One of the things that make human beings completely distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom, is our desire and ability to be able to seek a sense of understanding of ourselves, as well as the world around us. Over the years, there have been a number of breakthroughs and insights, brought about by a number of different individuals with regards to the human body, particularly the human mind.

Of the different human body parts, it is the human mind that continues to fascinate so many researchers, medical professionals, philosophers and psychologists. After all, it is here, in the human mind, where most of our thought processes take place – from how we make decisions to how we behave towards certain situations and events. The human mind remains to be something, where its true potential and mechanism, has been barely understood.

Part of this includes the concepts of consciousness and self-awareness. For many, these two concepts appear one and the same. After all, the concept of consciousness has been defined to be a form of awareness, as well as a variety of different phenomena that occurs within the human mind, as far as the fields of psychology and medicine are concerned. Although, when it comes to the field of philosophy, these two concepts are considered to be very distinct from one another.

Consciousness has been initially defined, by philosophers, as ‘shared knowledge’. Eventually, this definition was refined, and more contemporary philosophers referred to the concept of consciousness as the ability of an individual to determine his or her own actions, in order to determine which thoughts and actions are right, and which actions are wrong. There are a number of different kinds of consciousness, each pertaining to a particular ability of an individual to perceive whatever thoughts or actions pass through his or her mind. One example of this, is the phenomenal consciousness, which pertains to our ability to perceive feelings, sensations, and emotions. Another example is access consciousness, which deals with the person’s ability to reason, and control one’s behavior. This concept, in effect, provides the basis of our ability to think and behave in a certain way.

On the other hand, self-awareness is referred to as the ability of an individual to separate oneself, and one’s thoughts and expressions, from the rest of the world. Self-awareness goes beyond the consciousness, in that this concept is seen to provide individuals with the ability to choose which thoughts, actions and behavioral patterns that the individual would opt to use in a given situation or circumstance, rather than just merely assimilating what the majority is using. As such, the concept of self-awareness perceives human beings to be thinkers, and the controller of one’s thoughts, rather than being controlled by the thoughts.


1. The concepts of consciousness and self-awareness pertain to the workings of the human mind, as it is studied by philosophers.

2. The concept of consciousness focuses on the ability of an individual to gain and share knowledge. On the other hand, the concept of self-awareness pertains to the ability of the individual to separate his or her thoughts and expressions from the majority.

3. Consciousness explains how we make choices, while self-awareness focuses on why we make choices.

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  1. This article omits any reference to the tremendous contribution of Princeton University psychology professor, Julian Jaynes and his work, “The Origin Of Consciouness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind.”

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