Here is a couple of quotes by Roberto Assagioli, about animal consciousness
“I believe the will is the Cinderella of modern psychology, It has been relegated to the kitchen. The Victorian notion that will power could overcome all obstacles was destroyed by Freud’s discovery of unconscious motivation. But, unfortunately, this led modern psychology into a deterministic view of man as a bundle of competing forces with no centre. This is contrary to every human being’s direct experience of himself. At some point, perhaps in a crisis when danger threatens, an awakening occurs in which the individual discovers his will. This revelation that the self and the will are intimately connected can change a person’s whole awareness of himself and the world. He sees that he is a living subject, an actor, endowed with the power to choose, to relate, to bring about changes in his own personality, in others, in circumstances. And this awareness leads to a feeling of wholeness, security and joy. Because modern psychology has neglected the centrality of will, it has denied that we have a direct experience of the self. With the certainty that one has a will comes the realization of the intimate connection between the will and the self. This is the existential experience of the direct awareness of pure self-consciousness. It is self-consciousness that sets man apart from animals. Human beings are aware but also know that they are aware. We can express the importance of self-consciousness, the unity of willing and being, by saying (as opposed to Descartes): “I am aware of being and willing,” or “I am a willing self.”
(The Golden Mean of Assagioli, Sam Keen)
“After the conviction, the certainty, that the will exists, and that one has a will, is acquired, comes the realization of the close, intimate connection between the will and the self. This culminates in the existential experience of pure selfconsciousness, the direct awareness of the self, the discovery of the “I.” In reality, this experience is implicit in our human consciousness. It is that which distinguishes it from that of animals, which are conscious but not selfconscious.
Animals are conscious: they clearly show this in their emotional reactions to situations and their effective relations with human beings. Human beings go beyond mere animal awareness and know that they are aware. But generally this selfconsciousness is indeed implicit rather than explicit. It is experienced in a
rather nebulous and distorted way because it is usually mixed with, and veiled by, the contents of consciousness (sensations, drives, emotions, thoughts, etc.). Their constant impact veils the clarity of consciousness and produces Spurious identification of the self with these changing and transient contents.
From The Act of Will, 1974, p. 11
” Theoretically, the diagram is very simple. The circle in the middle represents our conscious personality – what we are aware of at any given moment. The point in the center represents the consciousness of the “I” – “I am” – a consciousness that is characteristic of the human kingdom.
Even an animal has a much broader psychological structure than we think (such as the geometric sense highlighted in the formation of the cells of a beehive, and the relative saving of space through its hexagonal shape). But animals have not acquired ego consciousness. On the other hand, the super-human beings have transcended, but not lost, this “self-awareness”. Self-awareness is in fact a necessary stage in the great evolution from mineral to God.”
(The Position Of Psychosynthesis In Contemporary Psychology, Assagioli Archive Florence)« Back to Glossary Index