Art and Conscious of Mind – Lecture 4

The Self Awareness of the conscious mind

lucas-cranach-the-elder-adam-and-eveLucas Cranach ‘Adam and Eve’ 1526

The painting depicts the particular moment after Eve has already eaten the apple. She is already able to reflect upon things in a different way than Adam, who is scratching his head wondering what is happening. We can see on Eve’s expression that she knows more than Adam at that moment. Only after eating the apple they become aware of their own bodies, their minds and their self. Before they lived not knowing of their own existence. After eating the apple they are able to see themselves as something that is distinct from the world and not part of it. they have their own mind and awareness. They become embarrassed of their bodies.


Everything to us is a continuous blissful state. Things don’t work the way we want them to , and we never have problems with the world. Everything has minds but we as humans can reflect on our own minds  and existence. Capacity we have that we know we exist and we know we have a mind.

We know Adam is puzzled and that Eve knows more than him because we can reflect our own minds into the situation.


What is the self that is aware of itself?

Descartes – ‘I THINK,  THEREFORE I AM’

If you are thinking at all you must be existing.

Logical problems with the self conscious

A camera can’t take a photograph of itself. You can’t turn the mind on itself. Hammer can’t hammer itself. 

Mallarme – Spent a year trying to work out his own thoughts. We are not use to think about the thing we think with.

Paradox of Introspection:

What we believe we are thinking can be different from what we are actually thinking. People do not realise their minds have wandered, or are not aware of mental responses that are given away by physiological behaviour.

Paradox of Self consciousness

Thoughts about ourselves presuppose the cognitive and linguistic capacity for self thought, If I think about myself, who is thinking?

Paradox of explanation

Can an object (like the mind) explain itself? We are limited to our own form and consciousness.

Infinite Regress:

Conceptual regress: Things go on forever and ever. eg infinite regress in mathematics 1.3333333 -> idea of 3 going on forever.

Physical regress: Physics sort itself out somewhere in the way. Grounded in solid physics of the world.


Self Awareness in Art:


Bartisch 1548, Man whose eyes have been turned inward. Possibility of something looking at itself. 



Johannes Gumpp 1646, Self Portrait – You don’t see the artist’s head but only the reflection and his painting. It’s referring to it’s own existence as a painting. Painting a painting. Conceptual development. It allows us to see 4/5 things at the same time.  A  bit like turning the camera on its own. Complex set of relations turning on itself. Someone is watching him over his shoulder and catching him in the act of painting.



Braque, Still life with violin 1909 – Refer to itself. The act of making it. You’re not looking at a still life, you’re looking at still life of a painting. It paints its own condition of painting.


Camera Feedback:


Camera ———— Monitor  (face a camera close to a monitor playing the camera image)

– Based purely on something looking at itself. 

-Feedback gives us complex physical organic process.



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