Insights into Inward Consciousness

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Item Code: IDE012
Author: G. Srinivasan
Publisher: Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR)
Language: English
Edition: 1994
ISBN: 8185636109
Pages: 135
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8" X 5.8"
Weight 340 gm
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Book Description
From the Jacket:

The purpose of this treatise is to descriptively analyse the structure of consciousness from 'within'. The method adopted is the 'inward' approach in which consciousness turns back on itself and comports itself towards its own understanding. The 'inward' description of the structure of consciousness in this treatise follows its own distinct line of development, resulting in a 'unified wholeness' of perspective without being confined to the constraints of any particular brand of phenomenology. Temporality, dread, death, etc. are described as inherent to human existence and emphasis is laid on the urge for inner transcendence to the poise of pure consciousness in which Being is encountered. The truths expressed in the treatise are 'experiential', accessible to all those who seek to live in full understanding of the nature of their existence in the world.


About the Author:

G. Srinivasan (b. 1930) was educated at Mysore University. He taught philosophy at Sri Venkateswara University (1955-66) and Mysore University (1966-90). After retirement, he was awarded the Senior Fellowship Research, New Delhi, for two years (1991-93).

Professor Srinivasan has a large number of books to his credit. His major publications include The Existentialist Concepts and the Hindu Philosophical Systems; Personalism: An Evaluation of Hindu and Western Types; Studies in East-West Philosophy; Whitehead's Concept of God; The Phenomenological Approach to Philosophy; Philosophical Perspectives: East and West.


The proper study of mankind, said Alexander- Pope, is man. What makes the study of man fascinating is the strange, but unavoidable combination of two different components in him—consciousness and body. This combination which is, indeed, paradoxical makes him at once the crown of all creation and the quintessence of dust. In the evolutionary development what is distinctive of the human being is not the possession of consciousness, because there is consciousness, implicit or explicit as the case may be in every being depending upon the level of evolution in which it is placed, but the way in which it functions in the human being as the revealing principle. There is no substitute or alternative to it. The mind and the senses which are accorded the status of the instruments of cognition are able to discharge their function by borrowing the power of revelation from consciousness. Therefore, consciousness is unique. That is why it is spoken of as ‘the light of lights’ (jyotisam jyotih) by the upanisad, as ‘the principle of principles’ by Husserl.

We may say in general terms that the work of consciousness is threefold: it reveals the beings of the world; ‘it turns back upon itself P so as to make itself a theme of its own study’ (p. 3), that is to say, it reveals itself; and finally it helps to have an encounter with Being. And so, the study of consciousness is challenging. It is this challenging study that Professor G. Srinivasan has undertaken in the present volume which is the fruit of his work as at Senior Research Fellow of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research a few years back.

Professor Srinivasan’s Insights into Inward Consciousness is a comprehensive and scholarly study of the nature and function of consciousness. Of the different approaches to the study of consciousness—cosmological, anthropological, epistemological, and psychological—he adopts ‘the inward approach’ taking advantage of the a phenomenological method used by Husserl, Heidegger, and others without however bound by any particular mode of approach of these western thinkers. The ‘inward approach’ to the study of conscious- ness is totally different from the ‘objective approach’ generally adopted in epistemology, psychology, and other disciplines. If consciousness is treated as one among the objects of the world, one will miss its essential nature as the revealing principle. It should not be thought that consciousness exists in splendid isolation from the things of the world. On the contrary, it is a being—in-the-world. As Professor Srinivasan puts it, ‘when consciousness "reflects" on itself and "sees itself from within" it discovers itself as being—in-the-world’. (p. 11) The inward approach to consciousness, as distinguished from outward approaches, is ‘the only method which can bring into the clear gaze of consciousness its own subjectivity, inwardness, and the "concreteness" of existence "lived" by it’. (p. 105) The inward approach to the study of consciousness has been adopted not only by the phenomenologists in the West, but also by Advaita Vedantins in India.

Professor Srinivasan’s acquaintance with phenomenology as well as Buddhism and Advaita helps him a great deal in his subtle analysis of the issues connected with the study of consciousness.

Since consciousness is a being-in-the—world, it has relation with the body, external objects, and other persons. Professor Srinivasan’s analysis of the relation between consciousness and the body deserves careful attention. The concept of ‘consciousness in—the—body’ refers to a unitary phenomenon such that we have to think of the relation between consciousness and the body in terms of, what Professor Srinivasan calls, ‘having’ and ‘being’, of` difference and identity. While the difference between them is obvious, their ‘identity’ be- comes the problematic. Professor Srinivasan’s observation that consciousness can view the body as its ‘immediate possession’ through an act of internal transcendence (p. 20) will be of interest to both the Heideggerian and Advaita scholars. His analysis of the relation between consciousness and other persons, which takes us to the problem of inter subjectivity, is equally interesting. When he high- lights not only the role and significance of communication as the medium through which the subjectivity of the other person comes to be known and recognized, but also the freedom of individuals as the presupposition of communication (pp. 24-26) , he reminds us of the discussion of the importance of the communicative competence by Habermas and others.

There is no phenomenologist without metaphysical orientation. Professor Srinivasan admits that his ‘inward description’ of consciousness has a metaphysical orientation. He maintains that the ‘encounter with being in the poise of pure consciousness’ is the culmination of the progressive inwardization of consciousness. (p. 105) in his description of pure consciousness he avoids the two Extreme metaphysical positions of Buddhism and Advaita and follows ‘a middle course’. (p. 102) Professor Srinivasan suggests that Being which is encountered in pure consciousness may be described in ‘personal’ or ‘impersonal’ terms. Whether Being is personal or impersonal, will always remain an ‘open’ question. What is really important, according to him, is the transformation that takes place in ‘the individual’s attitudes and activities in his being-in-the—world’ Q! 21 result of such an encounter with Being. (p. 104) Professor Srinivasan’s approach to the issues connected with consciousness is scholarly; his presentation of ideas is lucid and logical; and some of the views he holds and the conclusions he has drawn are provocative. I am happy to commend his volume to the attention of scholars interested in this theme.


What is contained in the following pages is a short treatise on the nature of human consciousness from 'within'. The deliberations begin with the affirmation of being in its indeterminateness as revealed in its concealment through the determinate particular entities in outer perception, and terminate in an 'inner' encounter with being in the poise of pure consciousness. What is stretched between the beginning and the end is the structure of human consciousness with its various inherent aspects 'inwardly' analyzed.

The treatise is divided into five chapters for purposes of descriptive analysis:

In Chapter 1, the metaphysical Being which is the 'indeterminate immediate' is describe as what determines the distinctive nature of consciousness as a mode of being capable of disclosing the other entities in the world which are also modes of Being. The method adopted for the 'understanding' of the structure of consciousness from 'within' is broadly described as the 'inward approach' to consciousness. What makes possible this kind of 'understanding 'of the nature of consciousness from 'within' is however the capacity of consciousness to 'turn back' upon itself so as to disclose itself and thereby comport itself towards its own understanding.

In Chapter 2, the 'unitary' structure of being- in the world of intentional consciousness is described in its 'inward wholeness' and the various structural aspects of intentional consciousness are ' inwardly' analyzed. The various structural relations which the intentional consciousness bears to 'things', other persons, temporality, nothingness, death, etc., as disclosed within the 'inward wholeness' are described in this chapter. Sections dealing with human freedom, aesthetic experience and causality are not deviations from the main theme since their relevance to the 'inwardness' of consciousness is explained. The distinction between the 'transcendent' perception and the 'immanent' perception, and the nature of 'inner duality' are some of the subtle issues which have also received due emphasis in this chapter.

In Chapter 3, deliberations are centered on the nature of inner transcendence to the poise of pure consciousness. Attentions has been drawn to the inherent fatigue or 'boredom' characteristic of the 'temporal' existence of intentional consciousness and the 'inner dulity' which is the source of 'conflict' in its being, as creating an urge for inner transcendence to the higher poise of consciousness. Accordingly, the distinction between the intentional consciousnesses is shown to be 'common' and 'transcendent' to the modes of intentional consciousness. It is shown to be the 'phenomenological residuum' remaining after phenomenological 'reduction' and is also described as the 'experiential residuum' in which the individual can 'inwardly' station himself in a poise of pure inner transcendence through the 'nullification' of the mental modes of intentional consciousness. The encounter with being is affirmed as internally occurring in this consciousness and being is described as one of 'integral unity'.

In chapter 4, an effort is made to elucidate some of the important distinction and to amplify a few subtle ideas for purpose of clarification. The phenomenological status of pure consciousness as described in this work is distinguished from the egoistic 'I' on the one hand and the metaphysical soul-substance on the other. The interpretation of the nature of Being as personal or impersonal is considered to be of pure consciousness since it is only a matter of mental construction put upon such transient and ineffable experiencing' of Being as such by the system-building in philosophy in accordance with their own intellectual inclinations.

In Chapter 5, a condensed and synoptic view of the work is provided, in which the main ideas of the treatise are consolidated. The significant observation made in the course of work is highlighted and the different contextual meaning of some important terms is also explained.

In this treatise, my purpose is not expound or interpret the philosophy of any particular thinker with exclusive commitment to him nor is I primarily interested in the subtle difference among the various thinkers and in the mutual criticisms advanced by them against each other in support of their own views. This is obvious throughout the work, especially in my treatment of intentional consciousness, pure consciousness, nature of being, etc. I have mainly tried to describe what I have 'felt' to be true and in this sense there is a distinct line of development of deliberation in this work. The views of other 'thinker' are 'assimilated' into these deliberations only to the extent that they are in conformity with the views expressed by me.

It will not be out of place to mention here that the worth of this treatise depends upon the extent to which the 'truths' expressed in it are internally felt' by the readers in their own consciousness, as there is no way of objectively demonstrating them. It is however too much to expect that the readers should agree with all that is said in this work or find all that is contained in it valuable. But even if they find 'some' significance or value in any of the ideas expressed in the work, however meager it may be, I feel that the effort made by me in writing this treatise has not been altogether a waste.

Lastly, I regard it my pleasant duty to acknowledge my deep sense of gratitude to the authorities of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi, for awarding the senior fellowship to write this treatise and for kindly accepting if for publication. I am also thankful to my esteemed friend, Prof. R. Balasubramanian, Chairman, I.C.P.R. for kindly writing the Foreword to this book.




    Foreword by R. Balasubramanian ix
    Inward Approach to Consciousness
    Uniqueness of Consciousness
    The Notion of Being
    Consciousness and Things
    Consciousness and the Body
    Consciousness and Other Persons
    Consciousness and Temporality
    Consciousness and Causality
    Transcendent Perception and Immanent Perception
    Consciousness and Freedom
    Consciousness and Aesthetic Experience
    Consciousness and Death
    The Inner Duality
    Phenomenological Reduction
    Nullification of Mental Modes
    Revealment of Being
    Inner Dynamism of Consciousness
    Some Implications of International Consciousness
    Consciousness and Value
    Order of Psychological Priority
    Pure Consciousness and the 'I'
    Time and the 'Timeless'
    Death and Dread
    Nothingness and Freedom: Different Contextual Meaning
    Meaning of Choice less Awareness
    Consciousness as 'Openness'
    Some Metaphysical Questions
    Select Bibliography 115
    Index 117

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