Consciousness: Are We All In This Together? Essay

Consciousness: Are We All In This Together? Essay

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A question that continues to puzzle scholars (and Honors students, alike) is that of what defines human consciousness. It would be simple to say that it is defined by one’s awareness of itself and of its surroundings. What makes the question so difficult to answer, though, is that consciousness is much more than an acute awareness; it is the process of becoming aware, finding the purpose of our consciousness, and building morals and intelligence from that awareness that entangles those who search for answers in a web of utter confusion.
In beginning my search for the understanding of consciousness, I chose to look into the thoughts and beliefs of Karl Marx and Jean-Paul Sartre. Marx and Sartre are similar in their philosophy in that they both agree that our existence defines the essence(s) of our consciousness, but they differ when discussing their ways of achieving consciousness. For Marx, consciousness is sought through the materials we, humans, produce through our labor and social and religious practices. Sartre, on the other hand, thinks that consciousness is a “nothing” and must be defined by the individual rather than a class or group, as Marx suggests. Ultimately, both agree that humans have the ability to change and control the essence of existence, which is important in understanding the power humans have in their mortal lives. My interest and search for consciousness begins with the empowering thought of control over all essences and humans’ ability to freely define them. I believe that Marx and Sartre capture the image of human ability in excellent and similar ways. Their differences, though, call into question how we are to live our mortal lives: are we destined to discover and fulfill our purpose individually or c...

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... of being human.
The most important belief amongst these two philosophers is the human’s ability to control and shape our consciousness by using choices and materials to make it into what we wish it to be. They see the power of human beings through their own manifestation and not through a higher being; if anything, we could consider ourselves the higher being from whom we should seek guidance. It is for this reason that Marx and Sartre are note-worthy figures in the understanding and creation of our consciousness.

Works Cited

SparkNotes Editors. (2005). SparkNote on Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980). Retrieved
October 31, 2011, from
Marx, K. (1968). The german ideology: Idealism and
materialism. (Vol. 1). Progress Publishers. Retrieved from

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