Consciousness

Unit IV introduced you to the work of William James. James was the first to describe
consciousness as a stream a continuous succession of experiences. He saw the most
significant function of consciousness to be the role it played in selecting what to pay
attention to.
James saw the stream of consciousness as an unending parade of thoughts, feelings, images,
ideas, sensations, conceptions, and emotions, etc. that appear before our conscious
awareness and then pass away.
For this assignment you will experiment with your own stream of consciousness.
Write about:A VERY early childhood memory.

Several childish words (like moocow) that were used in your family.

Several obsessions / preoccupations you had when you were about 4th or 5th grade.
a. What did you worry about?
b. What ideas kept recurring?
c. What things did you always do?
d. What words particularly fascinated you?

What subjects did you like in school? What memories are associated with those subjects?

What books or games were your mainstays?

What “sayings” of people in your family influenced you?
a. What did your mother “always say”?
b. What did your father “always say”?
c. Your aunt Mary? etc.
PSY 3350, Theories of Personality 5

What did your teacher do one day?

What “painful” thing happened in school?

What especially happy moment can you recall?Other particularly “fresh” or “cherished” or “embarrassing” memories you have from
childhood.

Now: look at this list and ask yourself:
WHY do you remember these things and not other things? Do these memories REVEAL
anything about yourself-tell you “who you are”? Have you discovered something about
yourself by looking at them?
Write up these memories in a stream-of-consciousness essay of 400 words or more. Also,
make sure to provide an introduction which introduces and summarizes James’ concept of
personal consciousness, changes in consciousness, and continuity of thought.
Your assignment must:
? Be a minimum of 400 words.
? Be typed, double-spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins
on all sides; citations and references must follow APA format. Check with your professor
for any additional instructions.
? Include a cover page containing the tile of the assignment (Unit IV Essay), the student’s
name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference
page are not included in the required assignment page length.
Information about accessing the Blackboard Grading Rubric for this assignment is
provided below.

WILLIAM JAMES 2

William James
Introduction

William James postulated that consciousness was a stream of memories and experiences
that we hold dear, which also determine what we pay attention to in our lives (James, 1904).
Therefore, consciousness is nothing but a collection of our experiences, which play a huge role
in determining our life choices, by providing us with a decision-making framework, as
demonstrated below.
One of my oldest childhood memories involves my first ever safari where my parents
took me to Kenya, an East African country and I saw wild animals such as lions, and elephants
roaming freely in the wilderness of the African Savannah grasslands. I was only five years old,
but I have never forgotten the experience. Some of the childish words that were used in my
family include words such as teddyboo, and Doodly Doo, which are words I rarely use nowadays
as a much older person.
My main obsessions as a young child revolved around ghosts and vampires. I always
worried that one day I might find a vampire, or even a ghost in my closet or hiding under my
bed. Every night before I fell asleep, I would lay awake in my bed wondering what would
happen to me if a fell asleep and was then attacked and my blood sucked by a vampire, after
which I would also be a vampire. I also worried that ghosts of evil people who had died would
carry me away to an unknown world, where I would be the only human being and I would suffer
a lot. I always prayed for protection from God and His heavenly angels every night before I
went to sleep, and I would always feel at peace. I would silently repeat the prayer once in bed so

WILLIAM JAMES 3
that I could fall asleep. The word “monster” really fascinated me as a young child and it used to
set my imagination in motion regarding all types of monsters.
I used to love social studies in school and would be mesmerized by the stories about our
communities and the history of our great country. I can never forget the story about how our
country was discovered as it made me feel like a part of a very special country in the world. I
loved history books and the Encyclopedia was my favorite book as I had a passion for learning
about new and interesting things outside of class work. My favorite game was baseball and we
would play in the park with my dad when there was warm weather. I also loved playing with my
Nintendo game pad, I particularly loved car races and was an expert at them (by the way, I am
still an expert).
My father always used to tell me that quitter never win, and that winners never quit. I had
this saying all through my childhood and it was ingrained in my mind. He always told me to see
life as a game, which I should always play to win, and that if I ever lost, then that would only be
temporary as winning is a mindset. My mom always told me that we were all born winners and
that failure was a choice that one makes. She always insisted that I should always be kind to
other people because everyone is important and that I should never look down upon others in
society.
One day, my teacher called my name out in class and told me that I had written the best
article she had ever read in her teaching career. This event was a defining moment in my life as
from then onwards I had this innate confidence that I was a great writer. This moment gave me
confidence in my abilities and my overall performance even in other subjects improved
significantly. The most painful thing that happened to me in school was that one day the girl I
had a crush on turned me down in front of the whole class. My happiest moment in school was

WILLIAM JAMES 4
the time when I participated in the district writing competition and won an award. The moment
where the girl turned me down was my most embarrassing moment during my childhood.

WILLIAM JAMES 5

References

James, W. (1904). Does ‘Consciousness’ Exist? Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and
Scientific Methods, 1, 477-491.

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