Theories of consciousness in early-modern philosophy

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A semantic shift of the word consciousness (<i>conscientia</i>, <i>conscience</i>, <i>Gewissen</i>, <i>Bewusstsein</i>, <i>coscienza</i>) occurred in 17th- and 18th-century European languages. While in pre-modern times the term consciousness had been related to theology and ethics, in early modern thought, a new meaning was added to the term, somehow different from the original one. Early modern philosophers and scientists used consciousness to refer to the knowledge of Self. In addition, it is apparent that the syntagms relating to the word consciousness &#8211; as, for instance, <i>freedom of consciousness</i>, <i>casus conscientiae</i> &#8211; became more frequent in political, religious, scientific and philosophical texts. My contribution will analyse the occurrences of these semantic fields in some important philosphical and scientific texts and will examine their specific uses and contexts. Keywords: consciousness; conscience; bewusstsein; modern philosophy; philosophical dictionary


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