From sensation to consciousness

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The paper deals with the transformation of sensation concept throughout modern thinking. A particularr focus is laid on the transition of sensation from the external &#8211; the body and his surface &#8211; into the inside &#8211; the depth and darkness of human consciousness. If &#8220;nothing but a body can touch and be touched&#8221; (Lucretius, <i>De rerum natura</i>, I, 304), it is namely in the passivity, in the stance of &#8220;being touched&#8221;, that sensation forces a passage towards the inside, the mind, the soul, and modifies it. Modern philosophy changes the way of thinking this passage, in accordance with a new concept of subject and consciousness, and with a renewed approach to the mind-body connection. Focus of the paper are the theories of Malebranche and Condillac, as, notwithstanding the basic difference of their argumentative stance, they both propose a new path for this transition. Both Malebranche, by twisting from within meaning and extent of Cartesian dualism, and Condillac, pursuing Lockean anti-innatism, acknowledge the fundamental passivity of the sentient subject. The pervasive power ascribed to sensation is instrumental in engendering a new enlarged representation of the inner space of consciousness. Keywords: sensation; passivity; inside/outside; modifications of the soul


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