Before considering modern theories, let us look first at consciousness from the standpoint of conventional psychology, since this embodies views which naturally occur when we begin to reflect upon the subject.
I leave on one side for the present the question whether pure sensation is to be regarded as a form of consciousness: what I am speaking of now is perception, where, according to conventional psychology, we go beyond the sensation to the "thing" which it represents.
If I set to work to recall what I did this morning, that is a form of consciousness different from perception, since it is concerned with the past.
"Thought" in the narrower sense is that form of consciousness which consists in "ideas" as opposed to impressions or mere memories.
This is a different form of consciousness from any of the earlier ones.
But yet I am firmly persuaded that a great deal of consciousness, every sort of consciousness, in fact, is a disease.
And when one is slapped in the face--why then the consciousness of being rubbed into a pulp would positively overwhelm one.
Not expecting to come on the enemy down by the stream, and having stumbled on him in the fog, hearing no encouraging word from their commanders, and with a consciousness
of being too late spreading through the ranks, and above all being unable to see anything in front or around them in the thick fog, the Russians exchanged shots with the enemy lazily and advanced and again halted, receiving no timely orders from the officers or adjutants who wandered about in the fog in those unknown surroundings unable to find their own regiments.
But its definition, or significance, was there in the quickest part of his consciousness. He possessed a dim, vague, imperative knowingness that it was not merely not good, but supremely disastrous, leading to the mistily glimpsed sense of utter endingness for a dog, for any dog, to go into the water where slipped and slid and noiselessly paddled, sometimes on top, sometimes emerging from the depths, great scaly monsters, huge-jawed and horribly-toothed, that snapped down and engulfed a dog in an instant just as the fowls of Mister Haggin snapped and engulfed grains of corn.
Perhaps, in Jerry's brain, the rising into the foreground of consciousness of an image of a log awash connoted more intimate and fuller comprehension of the thing being thought about, than did the word "crocodile," and its accompanying image, in the foreground of a human's consciousness.
He was very lame and sore and weak, and as full consciousness returned he felt the sharp torture of many cruel wounds and the dull aching of every bone and muscle in his body as a result of the hideous beating he had received.
He tried to piece out the details of his adventure prior to the time he lost consciousness to see if they would explain his present whereabouts--he wondered if he were among friends or foes.
At first he shivered all over, then the shivering ceased and little by little he began to lose consciousness
. He did not know whether he was dying or falling asleep, but felt equally prepared for the one as for the other.
A horrid turmoil of mind and body; bursting sobs; broken, vanishing thoughts, now of indignation, now of remorse; broken elementary whiffs of consciousness, of the smell of the horse-hair on the chair bottom, of the jangling of church bells that now began to make day horrible throughout the confines of the city, of the hard floor that bruised his knees, of the taste of tears that found their way into his mouth: for a period of time, the duration of which I cannot guess, while I refuse to dwell longer on its agony, these were the whole of God's world for John Nicholson.
When at last, as by the touching of a spring, he returned again to clearness of consciousness and even a measure of composure, the bells had but just done ringing, and the Sabbath silence was still marred by the patter of belated feet.