‘Consciousness is a witness which gives us information of every thing which takes place in the interior of our minds. It is not the principle of any of our faculties, but it is a light to them all. It is not because we have the consciousness of it that any thing goes on within us, but that which goes on within us would be to us as though it did not take place, if it were not attested by consciousness. It is not by consciousness that we feel, or will, or think, but it is by it that we know that we do all this. Consciousness is indeed more or less distinct, more or less vivid, but it is in all men. No one is unknown to himself, although very few know themselves perfectly, because all, or nearly all, make use of consciousness without applying themselves to perfect, unfold, and understand it, by voluntary effort and attention. In all men consciousness is a natural process; some elevate this natural process to the degree of an art, a method, by reflection, which is a sort of second consciousness, a free reproduction of the first; and as consciousness gives to all men a knowledge of what passes within them, so reflection gives the philosopher a certain knowledge of every thing which falls under the eye of consciousness.’ (Thomas Reid, ‘Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man’, p 37, Nook Edition)
Note here the interesting thought Reid develops: consciousness as a witness to what goes on in our minds. This is an interesting take on the subject, and one which I will be following up on in the near future. Consciousness is an interesting study – though for my part I think it subject to the same difficulties present when discussing language (we cannot discuss language using anything but language, which seems similar to the fact that it is only by the light of consciousness that we can study consciousness at all). I may have to consult Wittgenstein on this matter as well as Reid.