Reflexive Self- Consciousness by Eugene Halliday
What is ‘new’ about this book and its contents are many things.
Firstly its ‘precision of language’ usage; which in a now ‘scientific age’ is paramount. The terminology is so precise that even with the help of a good English etymological dictionary, a significant length of time is required to read and digest the contents of its pages. Never a word is wasted and because of this the text’s compaction and density seems at times impenetrable. It required me 2 days to read and assimilate 30 pages in 1985. Thirty five years on and after sharing and teaching its contents for 20 of those years, the book continues to reveal its secrets.
Secondly, today ‘consciousness’ is yet to be ‘defined’ by the scholars, precisely because as Eugene Halliday explains, Consciousness is ultimately ‘infinite’, cannot be defined, (define means to ‘set the limits of’) in that consciousness is that within which all definitions appear.
Thirdly and perhaps most interestingly, consciousness and will are not separable, and the catalytic and reflexive aspects of consciousness belong to will, and that the Reflexive aspect of Reflexive Self-Consciousness is revealed as a new functional development of consciousness for human evolution. Eugene Halliday hints that without this ‘reflexivity’ man is unfit to move to the next stage of human development. Quite a challenge to any reader, and a spur to charge the minds and hearts of all.
Fourthly, and not last, modern western psychology and also in many other psychologies, the ‘self’ is defined as a complex of ancestrally and educationally conditioned reflexes, fixed mental forms, emotional charges, impulses to action, and what is conjunctively called the ‘ego’. The ‘Self’ (capital S) in Reflexive Self-Consciousness is a not the ‘self’ construct referred to in modern psychologies, rather it is ‘free will consciousness’, undefined, and a pure observing and initiating force function; the very force function which guarantees the onward and upward trajectory of human development.
This review could go on for pages, pointing to new aspects of the book’s content. The title has countless insights and is one of the best books ever written, one of the best books you will read, and continue to read. It will be as relevant in 100 years’ time as it is today. If you do not understand it, give it to your children and their children. Good reading folks..!
Malcolm H Clark