An acquaintance who reads my blog asked me to define consciousness and I choose my response to this by delineating the difference, as I see it, between consciousness and awareness. Awareness is, in my view, a non-reflective natural consciousness, a consciousness of the immediate actuality of the aware subject and thus the consciousness of all sentient being. Consciousness, as I define it on the other hand, begins with reflection, when the human intellect discovers the duality of existence and begins to distinguish between the positive and the negative in existence, between good and evil, and impose this duality of existence upon the actuality of the natural world, denying the reality of spiritual being. Consciousness, therefore, involves a movement, a descent, if you will, from an immediate awareness of the reality of being into a reflective consciousness of an actuality of existence, human civilization, an artificial actuality projected into nature, which demands the projection of an individual image of being, a self, with which to explore and navigate through this artificial construction, this city of self-conscious human beings.
Cain is the archetype of the self, the fallen intellect which is constantly searching for the negative and exploiting it to advantage, and to the disadvantage of others, in order to justify itself in existence. When he is called to account for his brother’s blood, Cain refuses to accept the responsibility of his guilt. He has surrendered to the temptation of power, the ultimate power of the negative in existence, which is death. Yet rather than repent and carry the burden of guilt he chooses to willfully leave the immanent presence of absolute being in existence, his own spiritual being, with a fallen countenance. So is revealed the second movement of the fall, a fall into an intellectual consciousness that does not recognize the spiritual categories of being or acknowledge the actuality of sin. Fallen man thus becomes a creature who must construct his own world. This refusal to recognize objective intellectual existence as the actuality of sin is precisely the mark of Cain and is the defining mark of pagan life.
The naming of a baby fits the developing child into a social context which becomes its world, where it is fed on immediacy and suffers a conditioning into the values of its society. When that conditioning is complete the child becomes reflective and is forcefully indoctrinated into the material disciplines which serve the interests of its society’s rulers. These disciplines are scientific disciplines which confine the human intellect within the rationally apprehended physical universe. To transcend these world views and step outside the rationally ordered universe of the human intellect requires an act, an act of faith.