Consciousness As Dynamic Integrity: Sensory And Rational Unity


Dialectics has always recognized the unity of sensory and rational components of consciousness. At the same time, the division of cognitive activity into two stages (phases, steps, periods) stemming from Parmenides is not dialectical; for this reason, mutual penetration of the two stages was persistently imposed. Another stage (phase, step) has been introduced in Marxism: practice in which the unity of the corporeal and the incorporeal, and the sensory and the rational is obvious. In this study, however, the emphasis is not on practice but on verbal, terminological evidence of the dialectical unity, which is found in ancient and medieval philosophy, and in German classics. The authors emphasize the dialectical unity and difference between ontological and gnosiological approaches to bring into focus the unity and difference of the stages of cognition, their mutual “penetration” and crossing, and reveal the linguistic possibilities of expressing these dialectical transformations. An ideal image “in itself” can exist for a long time in consciousness and not become a linguistic meaning: in this case, it is simply a signal of the neurophysiological code. Feelings, sensations, more complex emotions, and many types of representation are not verbalized until they are conceptualized and comprehended. It can be said that in this case, feelings get control over man; however, when feelings and emotions are comprehended and verbalized, man masters his emotions. The term signification lift is proposed by us to denote the procedure of increasing the degree of abstraction in comparison with the initial form of sensation.

Keywords: Concept, representation, rational, sensory, suffering of the soul


Human consciousness is a living, continuously changing “wave-corpuscle field” of sensations, judgments, passions, memories and expectations, which is open to the outside world. Will and faith, purpose and assessment, intuition and speculation, the “highest color” of matter, the “spark of God” in man, language and speech, soul and spirit, prognosis and memory, observation and a creativity effort, a gracious gift and a heavy cross, insight and oblivion – these are by no means all components and definitions of consciousness.

“Philosophical” and deep, after the ancient Greek, the most “adapted” for discussing worldview issues, the contains a certain solution in the very term and reveals the nature and essence of consciousness: is cognized being, or “known being”. The Russian terms (consciousness) and (knowledge) do not contain such connotations. It should be noted that the English word directly inherits the proud Greek γνώσης:.

In this study, we focus only on the main component in terms of gnosiology – forms and stages of cognition: sensation and thinking. Our ideas can be treated as a gnosiological approach to ontology.

Problem Statement

Consciousness recognizes itself through cognizing being: this identification is reflected in philosophy as the principle of unity, that is the coincidence of the foundations of both domains. As Parmenides says: “τό γάρ αυτό νοείν έστίν τε καί είναι:” “...For it is the same thing that can be thought and that can be....” (Parmenides, 1989, p. 34).

In the Middle Ages, ideas about the essence, path and “work” of consciousness adequate to being were used to distinguish two types of human spiritual experience: sensory-rational and religious-mystical. The most prominent philosophers of the Middle Ages combined the corporeal and the incorporeal, the sensory and the rational, even in terminology.

First of all, William Ockham (2002), the philosopher of the XIII century, undoubtedly accepts the linguistic union of being and cognition: “... , quod ponitur convertibile cum, significat idem, quod, that iswhich is considered reversible with, means the same as (p. 12).

Similar to Aristotle and Boethius, he points out that the images of consciousness are the essence of suffering, of the soul.

And the Philosopher talks about this, [asserting] that words are signs of suffering of the soul (voces sunt earum, quae sunt in animae, passionum notae). Boethius reports the same when he writes that words denote concepts; and in general all authors assert that all words denote sufferings or their signs (passiones, vel sunt notae earum) ... (Ockham, 2002, p. 15)

It is in this reversion that one can see the direct possibility of the sensory and rational unity in consciousness, since passiones animae are not perception, and not even ideas, but, conceptae.

The second line of reasoning presented is semiotic.

Ockham (2002) writes: “... voces sunt signa secundario significantia illa quae per passiones animae vel conceptus primario importantur ...” (p. 19). “... Words are signs, in the second sense denoting those [things] that are primarily given for passions of the soul” (p. 22).

Occam's logic/semiotics recognizes both the written or spoken word and the mental image as a term and a sign. “The concept, or suffering of the soul, naturally denotes everything that it designates; and a spoken or written term does not designate anything other than by a secondary arbitrary determination” (Ockham, 2002, p. 25). Signification, or designation, was set equal to display – liberty alien to the Russian philosophy of the twentieth century associated with the criticism of Helmholtz's “theory of symbols”.

The outstanding nominalist also had little doubt that the concept is a strong feeling associated with the focus of the “soul” on the object of cognition. “Terminus conceptus est intentio seu passio animae aliquid naturaliter significans vel consignificans, nata esse pars propositionis mentalis et pro eodem nata supponere”. “The term-concept is the intention or suffering of the soul, which means or designates something natural, being part of a mental proposition [judgment] and is substituted for it” (Ockham, 2002, p. 27). The Latin term, synonymous with – passions of the soul, indicates an emotional and impetuous act of grasping (the object of thought). The German termthe concept, designates the same. And the Russian word (ponyatie), although not as energetic as (kontsept), is nevertheless closely related to the word (ob'yatie), which is very emotional.

What is passions of the soul?

This is a passion for cognition.

“…Potest anima aliquid intelligere, quod non prius intelligebat, per hoc quod vult intelligere aliquid, quod non prius intellexit”. (Ockham, 2002, p. 27).

Research Questions

  • In contrast to ontology, gnosiology introduces the cognitive relationship between the observer and the observed, the subject and the object. At the same time, prior to Kant, the subject was not primarily man: S is the subject of judgment, the plot; he may be a man contingently (“this person is literate”), he may not be (“the sky is blue”), but in any case the subject is opposed to the object or group of the predicate (in logic). However, there is a dialectical opportunity to overcome the rigidity of the basic cognitive relationship, if we determine the starting point of the cognitive process.
  • Our gnosiological approach to ontology called existential materialism includes explanatory abstraction, a neologism based on a German term. Bewuβtsein, consciousness, can receive a temporal-topological link: here-and-now-being-consciousness, Da + Bewuβtsein, Dabewuβtsein, the meeting place for the subjective and the objective. Feelings are a kind of “centaurs”; they are both corporeal and incorporeal, but it should be noted that feelings are abstracted from the central form of sensation, perception. Normally, a person perceives the phenomenon as a whole and focuses on individual feelings only if he makes it a goal. In the German language, there are a dozen terms for the Russian восприятие (vospriyatie): Erfassen – understanding, catching; Aneignung – capturing, seizing; Aufnahme – accepting, receiving; Auffassung – finding, catching and grasping; Empfindung, the most common term, reflects everything that is found with the help of sensory forms of cognition: sensation, impression, feeling.
  • The state of Dabewuβtsein, which can be called awareness in English, which is close to the German Wahrnehmung, “acceptance of the truth”, is the starting point for cognition, striving to its heights: reasoning, at the general gnosiological level, and science as the highest form of rational-objective activity, with its special language, ideal objects, theories and hypotheses, general and special methods that allow for the prognostic function.
  • “Designations” are quite various and exist on at least two levels: consciousness and its components represent their object “in a natural way”, and words and other linguistic signs are derived from it. However, there is a significant difference between representation-display and representation as such: the image is closely related to its object, and the sign is relatively free from it.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to demonstrate the dialectical unity of the sensory and the rational in its expressed and manifested form relying mostly on the philosophical classics, ontology of Parmenides, and the latest ideas.

Research Methods

The study employs a universal approach of classical dialectics, primarily of the German classics; the logic of high scholasticism; a historiographical approach and linguo-logical methods of comparative analysis.


There is a duality of representations that belong to both sensibility and abstraction, more precisely, they are a connecting bridge between feelings and thoughts. The sphere of sensibility is no less important since it initially transforms perception into representation. Reproduction of perception from memory, while retaining all the features of this extremely rich sensory image in a less vivid, schematized form, approaches thinking in the sense of isolation and separation from the object.

Logic revealed the mechanism of transformation from initial perception, the central link of sensibility, to representation, which is the central link of cognition; logic orders more or less amorphous sensibility and forms concepts.

Erst wenn wir das Eine und Gemeinsame in dem Vielen herausfinde, scheiden, was in den räumlich und zeitlich getrennten Erscheinungen gleich, was in ihnen verschieden ist, wenn wir die Unterschiede abstufen und so den Inhalt derselben ordnen, wird die Wahrnehmung zur wirklichen Kenntniss, kann jedes einzelne in ein schon vorhandenes System von Vorstellungen eingereiht werden, die als Prädicate unserer Wahrnehmungsurtheile jede einzelne Erscheinung in eine feste und bleibende Vorstellung zu verwandeln gestatten. (Sigwart, 2019, p. 73)

In general, all spheres, or fields, which imply the “chemical” process of transformation of one into another, is of great interest.

When a person – and better than others, great artists of the word – is able to designate, that is, to his sensation (or another sensory form) using a word, it turns into a. In our works, this elevation of the degree of abstraction is called the signification lift. However, the relationship between the sensible and the rational in consciousness and cognition is probably most clearly demonstrated by aesthetics in a universal sense, not only as a European form of culture and knowledge about it, but also like any other one. Refer to the authoritative opinions of modern philosophers in order to demonstrate this phenomena.

A famous American philosopher Robert Ellinson introduced the concept of redemptive power of art and wrote:

All throughout, the concept introduced by the present author, of the redemptive power of art to make life worthwhile by bringing to birth the higher emotions, that makes the expressions of emotion universal and redemptive of the human spirit in the face of the flatness, the meaninglessness, the wastefulness, the crudeness, and the ultimately disappointing nature of life devoid of this redeeming power of art. (Allinson, 2019, p. 54)

An outstanding Lithuanian philosopher Antanas Andrijauskas analyzes examples of the synthesis of intellectual work and high, refined emotions on the example of the Chinese school of Wenrenhua:

The refinement of Chinese Renaissance culture and the search for new opportunities for artistic self-expression were distinctively revealed in the creative work of followers of the so-called Wenrenhua (Intellectual) School. ... Marked by the strong influence of Daoist, Chan, and Fengliu aesthetic ideals, the Intellectual School distinctively expressed what is characteristic in the creative work of the artists of the Chinese Renaissance – universalism, artistism, and a profound philosophical subtext. (Andrijauskas, 2020, p. 247)

A young contemporary philosopher from Hong Kong, Muk Yan Wong, points out that convincingly expressed, shared emotions even more than formal logic serve as a cross-cultural dialogue in these difficult times: “While facing multifaceted contemporary problems and crisis, we do not lack rational and intelligent solutions. We lack mutual understanding, reciprocal tolerance, and sustainable collaboration. The role of emotion in establishing a platform of cross-cultural dialogue should not be overlooked” (Muk, 2019, p. 44).

In fact, at the level of everyday consciousness, any person who is able to say “cold”, “red”, and “melodic” makes this universal ascent from sensation to concept, from feeling to thought.

These examples show that the domains – the corporeal and the incorporeal, the sensory and the rational – intersect, intertwine, and “penetrate” into each other.

The two considered types of cognition, sensory and rational, are often supplemented in the history of philosophy with something in between, the third: sometimes through the distillation of the intuitive from the sensory; sometimes through confidence and faith; or by introducing clear distinctions: reason and sense; or by adding “experience” and/or “practice” as the third stage of cognition. Intuition was emphasized by John Locke (1689) (and earlier by the scholastics).

Whatever comes short of one of these, with what assurance soever embraced, is but faith or opinion, but not knowledge, at least in all general truths… There can be nothing more certain than that the idea we receive from an external object is in our minds: this is intuitive knowledge. (p. 35).

The idea of the priority of intuitive knowledge and confidence in its power was noted by Ockham: owing to such knowledge, one can comprehend whether a thing exists at all and make an existential judgment (Ockham, 2002).

Go back to the sensory, the abstract and their linguistic forms.

A well-known maxim says: a close mutual dependence between language forms and (dispassionate) forms of abstract thinking has been proven and even obvious, but the relationship between emotional experiences and speech does not exist or has not been proven.

Der Gedanke ist etwas Unsinnliches, und alle sinnlich wahrnehmbaren Dinge sind von dem Gebiete dessen auszuschließen, bei dem überhaupt Wahrheit in Frage kommen kann. Wahrheit ist nicht eine Eigenschaft, die einer besonderen Art von Sinneseindrücken entspricht [Thought is something nonsensible, and all sensibly perceptible things are to be excluded from the area of that in which truth can come into question at all. Truth is not a quality that corresponds to a particular kind of sensation].

Frege (2008), the founder of the modern concept of the mutual dependence of the philosophy of consciousness and the philosophy of language, the forerunner of linguo-logical positivism, writes: “Thought is something extrasensory, and all sensory perceived objects should be excluded from the field in which the concept of truth is applicable. Truth is not a property that corresponds to a certain type of sensory impressions” (p. 35).

However, no designation of sensitivity should contain the features of a linguistic sign, and no term denoting the forms of rational thinking should contain sensory images. However, linguistic experience suggests the opposite.

The difficulty is in the fact that multilingual terms are not always semantically correlated. Thus, “representation” in Russian and German does indeed have the same lexical meaning, but not the English “notion” (from Latin “notitia”,); the set of signs of the English term includes a signification that is absent in sensitivity. Instead, this word fits well into the semantics of Russian (soznanie) and (znanie), as well as (znak) and(znachenie), and makes us doubt the original relationship between thinking and language. It is believed that only a thought “speaks”; however, semantically elevates representation, sensory form, to the capacity of designation, which is characteristic of the forms of thinking.

On the other hand, the Russian word (ponyatie), the German Begriff and the Latin/English have the same “pictorial”, sensory content: searching – finding – grasping.

A mental image “in itself” can exist in consciousness and not become a linguistic meaning: it is simply a signal of the neurophysiological code. Feelings, sensations, more complex emotions, and many types of representation are not verbal until they are conceptualized and comprehended. It can be said that in this case, feelings get control over man; however, when feelings and emotions are comprehended and verbalized, man masters his emotions. Any subject of cognition often performs such conceptualization of sensory images and signification elevation. Moreover, this applies to philosophers, artists, and creators, who are able to symbolically convey their high feelings.


Consciousness cognizes being, combines with it, and in the act of self-awareness it recognizes its own existence, reveals its diverse content and internal form, and dialectical transformation of perceptions and abstractions. The concept of the duality of truth originated from the Arab philosophers; it was also accepted by the philosophers of the high European Middle Ages: there are truths of sense built on accumulated knowledge about the sensory perceived world, and truths of faith, the intuitive enlightenment of man and the result of prayer and divine emanation. Due to this, the importance of focusing on the inner, ideal world has been realized.

Dialectics have always recognized the unity of sensory and rational components of consciousness. There are many reasons for this recognition, and terminological ones are not the least convincing. The mutual penetration of the sensory and the rational, obviously, occurs in the sphere of (German) – the central form, or component of consciousness/cognition. Abstractions are “above” (Guryanov, 2013, p. 25) and perceptions are “below”. Quote the words of Robert Ellinson: “Aesthetics is itself a contradiction since it attempts to put the mute into words. Emotions can only be felt, not verbalized. When we experience emotions properly, we transcend the words that we use to convey them; we transcend the gesture of the dance; we transcend the notes of the music; we transcend the bronze of the statue. To what do we transcend?” (Allinson, 2019, p. 42). The answer may be as follows: this transcendence, this elevation is “immelman” into the realm of truth and beauty. The “signification lift” is capable to move both “up” to ideal objects like “√–1” and “down” to visual images. The metaphors of modern physics – “red and green leptons”, “space hedgehogs and strings”, “black and white holes” – are vivid evidence of this phenomenon.


The authors express their deep gratitude to the Department of Philosophy, Ulyanovsk State Technical University, which first published this study at the VII International Scientific and Theoretical Conference in 2020 (in Russian).


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  • Guryanov, A. S. (2013). The principle of arising from the abstract to the concrete as the basis of theoretical thinking. In the World of Scientific Discoveries. The Problems of Science and Education, 3.4(39), 264–282.

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Guryanov, A. S., Taisina, E. A., & Avdoshin, G. V. (2021). Consciousness As Dynamic Integrity: Sensory And Rational Unity. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in The Context of Modern Globalism, vol 117. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 683-690). European Publisher.