John Elof Boodin (1869―1950) began his systematic philosophical training with the study of the German idealists under the tutelage of James Seth, and subsequently he studied under Josiah Royce. Although this idealistic indoctrination imprinted him with certain permanent habits of thought, its effect was ameliorated by the influence of the British empiricists, Poincaré, the Anglo-American neo-realists, and the pragmatists, especially James and Peirce. His own philosophical work might be characterized as having wedded some of the form and aim of idealism to a content derived from more empirical philosophies and from the sciences. Although he is of the opinion that “Idealistic systems have, one and all, been romantic exaggerations,”1 he still subscribes to the necessity of doing metaphysics, i.e. of providing a final integration and evaluation of the presuppositions and consequences of our more specific truth-seeking activities. Metaphysics and the special sciences stand in a sort of feedback relationship, inasmuch as the desire to harmonize specialized bodies of information leads inevitably to the speculative extension of principles which have yielded partial understanding in specific areas of inquiry to the whole of experience, while the resulting world-view in turn serves as a paradigm or “regulative ideal” which furnishes inspiration for the further progress of science (RU, xxi). Boodin characterizes his own metaphysics as embodying the point of view of “pragmatic realism,” the term ‘pragmatic’ bearing the signification first given to it by Peirce.2 This avowed pragmatism means that those features of the universe are real which we are forced to acknowledge in order to live successfully, rather than those which are deducible from a priori postulates.3 In Hegelian terminology “the categories of thought must be tested by their success in actual use,” that use being to further the practical, intellectual, artistic, and other values of human experience.4 But our experience is peculiar to our place in history and its details have been permeated by modem science. Therefore our metaphysics must be similarly modem and culturally, even personally, relative if it is to be of use.5 The movement of philosophical thought is from a basic intuition of the real to its elaboration in conceptual form to the adaptation of those concepts to the experienced world as revealed through the most advanced techniques of enquiry,  terminating in a comprehensive interpretation which gratifies all the fundamental human desires, emotional and volitional as well as intellectual.
The conceptual elaboration of Boodin’s intuition begins with the positing of five “ultimate and generic concepts, viz. energy, consciousness, space, time and form.”6 Of these, Boodin’s treatment of time has received the most attention, partly because it was the subject of his first book, Time and Reality (New York, 1905), partly because that treatment contains some novel features which antedate similar notions subsequently promulgated by Bergson. It is also notable that he replaces the traditional category of being with dynamic processes, “energy,” demoting substance to the insecure status of “being precisely what we must take it as in experience” (RU, 73) in order to further our own purposes. (Å later article says, “All our evidence deals with transactions . . . . Entities have meaning only in encounters . . . . To ask what anything is when it does not act is meaningless.”7) Although not one of the detailed applications of these generic concepts is totally devoid of novelty and philosophical interest, this paper will be restricted to the consideration of just one–consciousness. Boodin’s account of consciousness is an especially intriguing piece of philosophizing which begins with the rejection of some features of popular theories of consciousness which allegedly conflict with the experiential facts, and ends by proposing, largely on grounds of conceptual economy, a rather unconventional hypothesis as to the nature of consciousness. I shall follow this order in presenting Boodin’s reasoning; and subsequently I shall consider some of the advantages, and disadvantages, of his proposal.8
First among the views of consciousness rejected by Boodin is the ancient contention that consciousness, although different from material things, is nevertheless a peculiar sort of stuff or energy. If consciousness were a form of energy or substance, it should at least be comparable to other forms, i.e. it should produce discernible effects and be capable of being measured. Mental processes do possess quantitative characteristics inasmuch as they are all capable of variation in intensity, forcefulness, and duration; and this may tempt one to attribute these characteristics to consciousness. Boodin admits that “all psychological processes are conative processes” which vary in strength; and he holds it to be a scientific rather than a philosophical problem as to whether the conative tendency which underlies all psychic processes is of the same sort or different from electrical, mechanical, and other sorts of energy.9 In any case, psychological processes “have describable relations or continuities with other processes, such as physiological and chemical,” and so apparently hold some status, however difficult it may be to describe precisely, in the realm of matter and energy. However, three considerations forbid our extending this conclusion to consciousness. The very fact that psychic events have quantitative properties and casual connections with physiological events is  itself a reason against supposing the same characteristics to belong to consciousness. Since the experienced “variations in kind and intensity can all be accounted for as due to variations in the complexity and intensity of the processes, conditioned by the cortex in the last analysis” (RU, 118), the attribution of similar variability to consciousness would be a useless duplication. Consciousness comes into evidence in proportion to the complexity of biological structure, true; but fatigue, disease, or partial destruction of the structure do not diminish consciousness so much as they impoverish or distort the conscious processes. We may lose visual or auditory images, fail to think coherently, and be unable to regulate our activities in an organized manner, while remaining “as conscious as ever” (ibid.). Secondly, the psychic processes are not necessarily conscious. “The ego is an affair of dispositions or tendencies, sometimes conscious, sometimes not” (RU, 124). There is a continuity of associations, adaptations, and memory, constituting the basis of personal identity, whereas the episodes of consciousness are discontinuous. With acknowledgments both to Freud and James, Boodin accepts a characterization of conscious life as composed of “snatches of ideas, perceptions, and feelings” floating on “the larger stream of the subconscious life with its associative and impulsive tendencies” (RU, 188). Finally, the energetic properties of psychic life are not only independent of consciousness, but do not appear to be “in any wise affected by consciousness being added” (RU, 119). Indeed, consciousness appears to make “only one difference to reality. Under certain energetic conditions, it makes the difference of awareness” (RU, 135). Both phenomenally and theoretically, consciousness appears as a jump. An explanation of sight in terms of dynamic changes in light waves, retina, nerves, and brain is not as such an explanation of the sensation of sight. The sensational aspect is not comprised in such an account but emerges only when consciousness, as an independent factor, is superadded.
Boodin also rejects the view, more contemporary with his own work, that consciousness is to be identified with certain specific aspects of the psychological situation, such as kinesthetic sensations or experiences of blockage, doubt, and resolution. Although he does not criticize this theory in great detail, his references to lames, Dewey, Mead, Angell, and others show that he is thoroughly familiar with it in its various permutations. He probably does not devote more time to this “functional view of consciousness” because his objection to it is quite elemental and readily stated. Although it is doubtless true that consciousness only “appears under certain conditions of intensity and strain,” consciousness itself seems to be quite distinguishable from those conditions and not at all reducible to them (RU, 120; cf. 170―171)
He is only slightly more expansive in treating the position, derived from Hegel and T. H. Green and contemporaneously propounded in America by F. J. E. Woodbridge and R. B. Perry, that consciousness is identifiable with the cognitive meaning or logical relations possessed by conceptual or perceptual objects. Boodin faults this claim on two grounds. In the  first place, the criterion of cognitive structure is much too restrictive. There are modes of awareness, such as listening to music, the immediate experience of duration, or mystical experience, which, although they may have some informational content, are not structured according to logical relationships and are not meaningful in the logical sense. There are also more primitive experiences which can hardly be said to be meaningful in any sense, ranging from hypothetically pure sensation to our everyday consciousness of those peripheral sensations to which we do not pay attention. Clearly the criterion is too narrow to include all that is normally included within consciousness. In the second place, meaning seems to be independent of conscious awareness and can hardly be identified with it. The meaning of entities such as the Iliad or Euclid’s geometry is obviously socially objective and would exist regardless of conscious recognition. The meanings of things seem to be “as independent of consciousness as are their spatial and temporal contexts” (RU, 122). The same holds of personally experienced meaning–“my own” meaning. The way in which one responds to things is determined by the situation and by the organism’s conative tendencies, neither of which are created by one’s awareness, although awareness is of course essential “for intuiting, or lighting up such meaning” (ibid.). Thus there is a sense in which this definition of consciousness is too wide as well as too narrow–the meaning field extends beyond consciousness. Meanings are more correctly described as discovered by consciousness than as either made by it or identical with it.
“What would seem to be indicated, then, is that consciousness is a fact over and beyond relations, whether logical relations or energetic relations” (RU, 123). However, even some of the theories which subscribe to this conclusion do not go far enough in recognizing the uniqueness and independence of consciousness. For example, materialists have commonly taken consciousness to be an epiphenomenon, a sort of “picturesque chiaroscuro or halo of the going-on of the energetic processes” (RU, 125). Consciousness is conceived as a by-product of material interactions. The difficulty is to understand the relationship of production, whose explanation rests upon the metaphorical extension of certain physical or energetic models to mentality and consciousness. If the metaphors chosen are not too crassly material, i.e. solely mechanical, but also include “electrical energy and neural energy” they may aptly apply to the mental processes. Even so, the warrantable conclusion is not that the conative processes which seem to constitute the fundamental substratum of mental life are reducible to other forms of energy; it is just as plausible to regard them as distinct energetic forms with quantitative and casual relationships to other forms. However, it is difficult to see how even the most subtle energies can be made to apply in any illuminating manner to consciousness. Consciousness is not a cause; consciousness is not capable of quantitative variation; therefore it could only be conceived as a pure effect of material changes. Although in some models, such as the production of thermal or electrical energy from mechanical motion, effect and cause manifest dramatically  different phenomenal properties, both effect and cause remain forms of energy, each transformable into the other. “But can we also conceive of energetic process producing a fact which is not energy at all–not transformable into energy . . . because it is a different sort of fact . . . ?” (RU, 126―127) Boodin thinks not. If the materialist, following Hobbes, wishes to insist that consciousness is a property of matter, he must acknowledge that it is a property unlike any other, which is practically equivalent to recognizing it as “an independent variable or attribute of reality” (RU, 127). The attempt to derive consciousness from other material properties “involves an unintelligible saltus,” in effect requiring that one accord to each occasion of consciousness the status of being miraculous. (RU, 143). We need a theory which can provide “a smoother transition between consciousness . . . and the world of processes” (RU, 127).
Yet the other traditional ways of explaining consciousness are even more defective than materialism. Parallelism, or the postulation of a noncausal one-to-one correspondence between mental and physical events, is grounded in the noble intention to preserve the principle of the conservation of energy. Nevertheless, because of its a priori character, it is little more than a gratuitous addition of empirically unverifiable psychological processes to known physical changes which “can only convey sense to a man who does not think about it” (RU, 128). Besides, there is no need to suppose the psychological processes themselves to be generically distinct from other processes; it is only consciousness, not the content of consciousness, which requires explanation. As for the interaction theory, despite its correctly acknowledging that there must be some casual connection between mental and physical events, as usually stated it errs in extending this interaction to conscious awareness, which simply does not vary in the requisite manner. “There can be no sense in speaking of the consciousness of pain or blue” (ibid.). Again, the underlying difficulty is the assumption that consciousness is generically identical with the psychological processes, whereas in fact they are not assimilable and apparently have entirely different properties.
The theory which Boodin offers to resolve these difficulties is that consciousness is a distinctive kind of reality, neither mental nor physical; that it is a medium, or more like a medium than like a thing; and that it is a universal constant, manifested whenever certain conditions are fulfilled. Allusions to these features have already occurred in the preceding presentation of Boodin’s criticisms of alternative theories, but now their meaning and justification needs to be made more explicit.
In “The Refutation of Idealism” (Mind, N.S. XII , 450―453) G. E. Moore had drawn a distinction between consciousness or awareness and the object of awareness, say a blue flower. He had also maintained that the  relationship between the two was unique and could not be assimilated to the container-contained relationship. With all this Boodin professes to be in complete agreement (RU, 164―165). He also agrees with Moore’s later position that consciousness accompanies all our experiences insofar as they are available to introspection.10 However, Moore concludes that because consciousness is the only common element he can discover in his introspective experiences it must be the essential element of mental life. Accordingly, he attempts to elucidate the concept of “mental” by identifying it with the more-or-less unanalyzed notion of an “act of consciousness,” which is presumably less problematic. This conclusion, so obviously dependent upon Moore’s use of a methodology derived from the Cartesian introspective tradition, could only appear to Boodin, with his pragmatic orientation, as arbitrary. Since there is abundant behavioral evidence that our mental processes continue to function and undergo modification when we are not conscious, we must assume that they exist at such times. Nor can all efficacious mental activity be located within consciousness, even when we are in a conscious state. “Therefore consciousness is not an essential characteristic of the mental” (RU, 165).
Indeed, Moore’s “mental acts” or “acts of consciousness” are anything but simple occurrences of a special kind of fact. Boodin’s analysis of Moore’s case, the perception of blue, uncovers three distinct factors which seem to be present in all such acts, in contrast to the two-fold distinction Moore had made between the act as such and its object, the sense datum. There is, first of all, “the energetic physical situation,” which includes both events in the environment and in the percipient’s body, as well as the products of their interaction. Blue is one such product, being simply the result of light of a certain wave length interacting with the eye and the central nervous system; and it is, in this sense, “a purely physical fact” (RU, 166). The variability of such objects is not a valid argument against their objective reality, necessitating a special status for them, since all energetic transactions require certain conditions for their occurrence and vary with changes in the relationships between the component factors. This is as true for chemical reactions as for sensations. Boodin is willing to admit that there is a problem in separating the sense object from its accompanying affective tone; but he regards that as an entirely practical difficulty for psychological analysis and not at all as a theoretical difficulty in the conception of sense objects as physical facts. Many other so-called mental objects are similarly misclassified physical objects, such as images, which Boodin explains as “persisting excitements” from previous perceptual experience, and which are “as physical as the persistent effects recorded by the film of the camera” (RU, 167). The emotions and feelings are similarly physiological, although they become increasingly difficult to identify clearly as one moves from such relatively specific sensations as breathing and localized pains to more generalized organic reactions which are normally undifferentiated in conscious attention. But again, the difficulty is practical, not theoretical.
 In addition to the physical component of mental acts, there is also “the selective reaction to this physical situation” (RU, 16S). It is this conative response that Boodin finds distinctively mental; but even here there is an admixture of physical elements so pervasive that they can only with difficulty be distinguished from the conative constitution. This led James to identify the subject of experience with the “I breathe” in contradistinction to the Kantian “I think.” Although Boodin agrees that the motor and respiratory sensations are prominent and omnipresent features of the unity of conscious experience, he protests that they provide no explanation of direction or motive. So far as present research can determine, there must be some underlying non-physical (but not non-energetic) tendency–that which has been traditionally termed ‘will’–which adds the dimensions of attention and affection to experience (RU, 170―171). The will is manifest in increasingly complex forms from blind instinct, where its distinctive contribution is relatively meager because the basic adaptations are largely physiological, to organized character, where the physical processes may be reduced to merely instrumental status, as when thought is freely engaged in ideal construction (RU, 172―173). The will is not any sort of occult entity completely different from other kinds of being; it is an activity or energy basically similar to other energies, possessing inertia and being, to a certain degree, predicable and measurable. Like all other energies, it is known through its effects; and we are forced to assume its existence as a core of dynamism in the organism because the organism appears to be at least partially a free and independent being which can not be accounted for as a mere consequence of environmental conditions. It is this volitional activity, together with the pure affective tones of agreeable or disagreeable which are its special contributions to experience, that makes up all that is mental. Everything else we normally speak of as being in the mind is really physical (RU, 174). The distinctively mental quality of “mental acts,” then, consists precisely in their being selected by interest from a wider field of possible objects of experience and in the feedback from that selection as an abstract affective tone of agreeable or disagreeable (RU, 169―174). This same energetic core, insofar as it produces a relatively permanent and dominant tendency and an accompanying entourage of associations formed by that tendency, creates the subject or ego. The subject is just such a set of permanent tendency. This “pragmatic substance” supplies all the identity necessary to account for the serial organization of experience, without the necessity of postulating a transcendental unity in the manner of Kant.11
The third and final factor is, of course, consciousness; but it is to be remarked how much of the territory often casually assigned to consciousness has already been occupied by the preceding two factors. It is neither a part of the physical situation nor of the response to it; that is to say, it is neither object nor subject in a situation which philosophers have often thought to consist in just these two components, neither more nor less. Although he subscribes to Moore’s distinction between the awareness and  the object of awareness, Boodin does not follow Moore in his belief that consciousness may, like the sense qualities from which it is distinguished, be an object for introspection, which “can be distinguished if we look attentively enough” (“The Refutation of Idealism,” 450). Although Boodin’s position is not entirely clear in RU, the fuller account in “Fictions in Science and Philosophy” is quite explicit. There he says, “I confess that I can see no meaning in Moore’s statement that the awareness of blue and the awareness of red have awareness in common.... That appears to me to be a verbal confusion.” (“Fictions,” 707). For that matter, neither are sense qualities primarily perceptual objects, being rather abstract objects in part constructed by our interests from such givens as colored light and certain physiological conditions (ibid.). Objects are physical, with the possible exception of the operations of the will, to which Boodin believes we may attend. It is not entirely clear whether this attention can be of the same sort as that directed to sensible things, since it seems rather to be merely theoretical recognition. Although he speaks of knowing the operations of the will as present rather than past, he also characterizes awareness as being of them only as they are in their reactions (RU, 173), “abstracted from their concrete setting,” and as proceeding by “mental analysis” (RU, 167). In any event, objects are safely restricted to energetic processes of some sort. Subjects are, as has just been shown, relatively permanent tendencies in the sequence of events making up the life of the organism–tendencies which are largely independent of consciousness (see “Knowing Selves,” 138―143). Consciousness is therefore neither subject nor object, mental or physical, and differs most markedly from these forms of existence in not evidencing any of their energetic characteristics or effects. All the causes necessary for the explanation of psychological events can be found in physical processes and the conative tendencies which react to those processes. No psychological process can be shown to occur only when consciousness is present.
Thus, even though consciousness is indeed “present throughout the whole field of introspective experience, “ the determination of its nature “is a metaphysical rather than a psychological problem” (RU, 133). Consciousness is an abstraction in the sense that it is not identifiable as a specific entity nor does it possess causal efficacy. But if it possesses no causal efficacy, it is at first sight puzzling as to what role it can play in a metaphysics constructed on the avowedly pragmatist ground that whatever is real must make a difference. However, as has been previously noted, Boodin believes consciousness makes one important difference, albeit a difference of an entirely different order from causal influence. That difference is awareness, the state of an energetic process whose own direction and flow are evident to it. Consciousness is the abstract condition which must be present whenever something appears to, or is seen by, something. It does not change the facts but only makes them apparent. If one speaks epistemologically rather than metaphysically, it may even be preferable to say that the psychological processes make consciousness apparent, rather  than the reverse: for consciousness itself, to use a metaphor to which Boodin returns time and again, is colorless, and the tints revealed within it are all assignable to specific processes which are conceptually separable from it (RU, 135, 182, 401).
Once the difference which consciousness makes is present, however, additional consequences are engendered in the psychological processes themselves; the difference makes other differences possible. Foremost among these emergent properties is value in the sense of subjective significance (RU, 135). Without consciousness there can be meaning (both logical and aesthetic), selective adaptation, and progress in the sense of movement from lesser to greater complexity, coherence, and independence. There can not be realization, appreciation, or satisfaction (RU, 136), all of which are requisite for value experience (RU, 139). Although Boodin rejects the thesis that consciousness itself is an epiphenomenon, he seems to consider value to be just that, even speaking of it as a “halo” added to “mechanical and blind process” (RU, 137). The important difference between the two cases evidently consists in the causal ties between value and physiological events and conative tendencies. Consciousness is not correctly characterized as an epiphenomenon because it is not produced by material or energetic activity. Value is created by such activity, however, although only when consciousness is also present as a general precondition–a catalyst, if you will. A second consequence of the existence of consciousness is the possibility of better, more efficient, adjustment of the organism to the environment. Although the mechanisms of habit, association, and memory are physiological, consciousness permits their more precise correlation and application, especially in novel or emergency situations and in future-regarding action. Consciousness permits the organism to sum up quantities of influences from the past and anticipations of the future as images, rules, and expectations presented in immediate awareness, and thus to choose among alternative courses of action without the necessity of a present external stimulus or repetitive trial and error experimentation. Awareness widens the field of data to which the ego can respond and makes available to the subject its own states, thereby permitting a finer, more selective, control of its impulses. Indeed, without consciousness it would not even be possible to distinguish between mental and physical events, much less to apply to each sort the responses most suited to their nature.
Making a single difference which in turn entails a set of important characteristics and possibilities not otherwise realizable, and doing so in a non-causal manner, is precisely the characteristic of a medium. To support his claim that consciousness is a medium, Boodin emphasizes the similarities between the sorts of practical differences made by consciousness and those made by space and time. A sketch of the relevant features of space and time should help clarify his intentions.
Space is not an energy, i.e. neither an ego nor a thing, and hence is not a cause, yet it makes one important difference to existents. Space is the condition of distance or externality characterizing all things, including  egos. Pragmatically, space is known through the difference it makes for the energies which travel through it (RU, 227). Otherwise stated, there are real and clearly discernible variations in the interactions between entities corresponding to changes in spatial location and distance, and these variations are neither properties of, nor consequences of changes in, the energetic activities themselves, but are functions of an actually and conceptually distinct factor. Without space, physical, perceptual, and conceptual distance are unintelligible; and without real distance, one would be at a loss to explain all sorts of phenomena, from physical reactions and motion to such human experiences as the sorrow of separation, loneliness, or the joy of reunion.
Similarly, time is not a cause and yet makes an all-pervasive difference in the world–precisely the difference between the actual world and one conforming to the Parmenidean ideal of unperturbable being. Time is that character of existence whereby chance intrudes into logical and causal order and all things undergo irreversible change. For Boodin, time is not the serial order of events but the underlying ontological condition which makes such ordering possible, and which also makes possible motion and our experience of events as passing. Time is that aspect of reality whereby we can and must make different judgments with regard to the same entity occupying the same spatial coordinates, as we do? for example, with the leaf which is green in summer and golden in autumn. This necessity to revise our judgments, insofar as they are grounded in objective reality and not in subjective apprehension, is an inescapable revelation of the character of time, which we might term “the non-identity-of-what-is character.” Time does not account for any particular change in things or in thoughts, for that can be done only by investigating the actual processes involved in order to describe the particular sequence of events and to disclose the relevant causal factors. Time is rather the non-being character of reality in general, the condition which requires that things change regardless of exactly how they do so. Being absolutely universal, and not being a character deducible or otherwise derivable from other essential features of things, it can only be an irreducible generic attribute of reality (See RU, chap. XIV, esp. 264―273).
The preceding two comparisons clearly indicate the properties Boodin wishes to single out by calling consciousness a medium; and, at the same time, they show his choice of terminology to be not altogether fortunate since media are normally corporeal substances capable of transmitting some sort of radiation–and that is definitely not what he wishes to affirm of consciousness.12 If abstracted from its specifically geometrical significance, ‘dimension’ would probably have been a better choice to designate anything sharing the properties which, on his analysis, are common to space, time, and consciousness. There seem to be two principal common properties which justify our classifying these as ontological similars. None of these ‘media’ are produced by events or productive of events, yet they make important differences to the world of events. In each case these  differences take the form of irreducible qualitative additions which do not vary with the activity of identifiable causal influences and so can not be thought of in terms of the quantitative equivalencies which typify causal action and reaction. Neither do they have the particularity of things or events, but rather the universality of uniformly effective conditions. Thus, for Boodin, expressions such as Moore’s “acts of consciousness” must be misleading at best, as we can see if we try to think of “acts of space” or “acts of time.”13 Acts may be conscious, having that fact added to their other attributes; but nothing in our experience warrants our regarding consciousness, any more than space or time, as distributed in events or acts. Since each ‘medium’ makes only one difference, and the same difference, regardless of the events being qualified, we need suppose only one space, time, or consciousness, to account for the facts.
It is but a short jump from this property to the final element of Boodin’s theory, namely, that consciousness is a constant. Although consciousness is commonly thought to be private, that belief rests on the assumption that there is nothing disadvantageous in supposing many consciousnesses, together with at least a partial identification of each consciousness with an individual’s mental or physical processes. However, if consciousness is a medium, in Boodin’s sense, the supposition of many consciousnesses is uneconomical, even inconceivable; and any identification of consciousness with mental or physical processes has already been precluded by the first element of his theory. Boodin asserts that, at this juncture, one can only account for the fact of consciousness in one of two ways. “It must either be a constant . . ,. or it must be created outright, when we have evidence of it” (RU, 143). In the absence of any demonstrable causal connections between the occasional presence of consciousness and concomitant processes, the creation hypothesis is equivalent to an unending “heaping up of miracles” (ibid.). Consequently, consciousness must be a constant.
Boodin recognizes that there are some difficulties in the way of the idea of a single constant consciousness. To begin with, we can only have introspective evidence of consciousness when we also have memory, which is true only in a limited number of cases. On the other hand, there are at least some indications that consciousness may continue in the absence of memory, as in our awareness of having been dimly aware without being able to recollect anything specific, as when just going to sleep, in the apparently conscious behavior of the sleepwalker who may subsequently remember nothing, or even in the behavior of insects, microbes, and plants whose adaptive operations resemble those known to be conscious in higher organisms (RU, 141―142, 144). These and other cases suggest that there is no clear line of demarcation between conscious and unconscious behavior. Yet, wherever the underlying structures and processes are radically different from those we know to be compatible with consciousness, we can never be sure of its presence or absence. Just as certainly, consciousness is apparently discontinuous in our own lives, which contain  episodes such as dreamless sleep. Although the evidence is mixed, Boodin thinks it logically, epistemologically, and metaphysically simpler to suppose consciousness to be a universal constant, existing even “when the conditions for its effectiveness are wanting” (RU, 143). Otherwise, we must derive it from non-conscious processes, distinguish its variations and correlate them with the recognized variations in organization, and provide reasons for its origin–none of which we know how to do. Even if we suppose that there are processes in which consciousness is not in any degree actualized, this need occasion no more embarrassment for one holding this hypothesis than that occasioned for the believer in universal space by the possibility of empty spaces. The two cases are analogues.14 Far from being a liability, the concept of empty space can even be put to fruitful employment, as in formulating Newton’s first law of motion. There seems to be nothing inherently more paradoxical in the notion of “empty” consciousness, although it may not yet have equally useful applications. It is at least clear that if it is otherwise profitable to posit a constant field of consciousness, one need not hold back simply because that postulate, together with observational data concerning conscious processes, apparently entails occasional emptiness.
Nine years later, in Cosmic Evolution, Boodin’s characterization of consciousness as a constant is altered sufficiently to render moot any argument for the possibility of empty consciousness. There he ceases to speak of awareness as the difference made by consciousness and instead says that the two terms are synonymous (CE, 387). Consciousness-awareness is now said to be “the aspect of selection” (CE, 389) or “the aspect of sensitiveness, of taking note . . . implied in all action” (CE, 383). He argues that every action, whether of inorganic particles or of complex organisms, requires three factors: a sensitiveness to stimuli, a structure of the reacting entity which determines its response, and a response. In complex organisms, there is an obvious lag between the apprehension of a stimulus and the response, which becomes even more prominent in those conflicts of instinct, of habit, or of calculation which often intervene between first awareness and ultimate response. Normally, we only discriminate between awareness and response when this lapse of time is sufficient to separate them noticeably; but since any action requires time in which to overcome the inertia of the reacting entity, we can infer that the factors of awareness and response must always be present, even in inorganic things, although there we are unable to distinguish clearly between them. The logical distinction between the two factors is applicable throughout nature (CE, 393―394). Thus, to the extent that there is activity, exchange, or reciprocity in nature, there is always consciousness.
Once having settled his earlier hesitation between a universally effective consciousness and a consciousness sometimes effective and sometimes not according to the conditions in favor of the former alternative, apparently because of a conviction that awareness functions even in activities normally thought to be unconscious, Boodin feels the need to distinguish  this wider use of ‘consciousness’ from the more restrictive normal use. He does this by borrowing the terms ‘primary consciousness’ and ‘secondary consciousness’ from May Sinclair’s The New Idealism (New York, 1922), using the latter term to designate ordinary consciousness. Secondary consciousness is then characterized as a special form of awareness which arises whenever a certain kind of activity–the use of symbols to achieve adjustments within a field of socially determined meanings–is imposed upon the primary physical activities. Primary consciousness is the awareness present in primary activities themselves, whether it be the selective response of neurons to stimulation or the adjustment of a magnetized needle to a magnetic field (CE, 392). The explanatory use of the unconscious, with the attendant jump between processes so qualified and those qualified as conscious, is rendered unnecessary, since the operational differences between primary and secondary modes of awareness are precisely those appropriate by reason of the differences in the activities in process of adjust
meet. Although those selective activities whose awareness component may rise to the state of ‘secondary consciousness’ are mental,15 it is not consciousness which differentiates them from physical events, but rather their involving the psychological history of the individual as a factor in their realization (CE, 398). The individual consists of mental activities (cognition, aesthetic valuation, introspection, etc.) superimposed upon physical activities organized into a self-maintaining system, i.e. an organism, so that it is more appropriate to speak of a ‘minded organism’ than of ‘mind.’ Accordingly, mental energies, although irreducible to other kinds of energies, react with and depend upon other types of energy, each of which retains its peculiar quality (CE, 400). Awareness does not react but is simply present in all reactions.
In Cosmic Evolution Boodin abandons the Newtonian ideas of uniform extension and duration for the field-variant space and time of relativity theory. Just as the space and time of a given energetic system vary with the activity of the system, so the “nature of awareness varies with the structure and motion of the fields where it appears” (CE, 395). The constancy of consciousness is not then that of an invariant property, but that of an adjustable character which has a similar quality given similar sets of relevant conditions. It may be compared to colors. “There is no more a consciousness in general than there is a colour in general” (CE, 396). Consciousness only occurs as this or that specific awareness, inseparable from the entire unique selective response it qualifies and at the same time irreducible to it. This specificity is such that the awareness of one functional system is “split-off” from that of others, even though they may cooperate together to compose a larger system. For example, our cognitive awareness does not directly perceive the organic and physical awarenesses occurring in our bodies. It can only infer their existence from the activity of the bodily parts. Awareness is constant in that it is everywhere manifest; yet it is monadic in that it is everywhere a function of individual selectiveness (RU, 2nd ed., lii).
 By the time he wrote the “Introduction to the Second Edition” of A Realistic Universe (1931), Boodin had settled exclusively on ‘awareness’ as a term to replace ‘consciousness,’ which had come to seem hopelessly contaminated by previous philosophers identifying it with mind. There he also toys with the expression, ‘the principle of non-indifference’ (e Whiteheadianism?), but finds it awkward (RU, 2nd ed., ii). In later publications he continues to use ‘awareness’ to signify the “general responsiveness” of any entity for another, including that of the magnet for a piece of iron or the earth for the moon, while allowing ‘consciousness’ to revert almost to its ordinary use, signifying a species of awareness found only in high grade organisms (“Cosmic Attributes,” 12; cf. “Fictions,” 704―709). These refinements in terminology make his position a bit clearer, but they do not involve any further significant alterations in the theory.
Boodin’s theory seems to have evolved in the following way. Originally, he emphasizes consciousness as a feature of immediate experience. He abstracts this consciousness from the mental and physical continuities constituting the individual in a fashion which directly conflicts with our common sentiments of owning or being our consciousness. In so doing, he seems to have thought himself to be rejecting only the component of verbal tradition in common sense while preserving all that comes from direct experience. He discounts the reliability of commonly accepted beliefs by hypothesizing that future generations may find our reluctance to universalize consciousness as blind and dogmatic as we now find the Cartesians’ denial of consciousness to all non-human animals (RU, 143). In his defense we might observe that on the level of simple introspection we seem to own our own time and space at least as clearly as we do consciousness, yet we have accepted intellectual accounts of time and space which ignore this fact. Consciousness is here treated as an analogue of absolute time and space. Then, as a consequence of an increased appreciation of the physical theory of relativity, Boodin relativizes consciousness. He links consciousness closely with the individual contexts in which it occurs, emphasizing less its constancy and more its variableness. Since contexts other than our own waking life are known only behaviorally, his touchstone is no longer immediate experience but observed behavior, from which an element of awareness may be abstracted. He continues to assume the basic identity of consciousness or awareness in all its occurrences, although differences in level are introduced to accord with observed differences in the complexity of response activity.
A theory so sweeping must have its weaknesses; and I shall begin my closing assessment by discussing the most obvious. Perhaps the major objection which could be brought against Boodin’s theory is the one he himself recognizes–that the constancy of consciousness does not accord well with the available evidence. His proposal of an omnipresent but sometimes  ineffective consciousness is an ingenious attempt to sidestep the difficulty, but it is based upon an analogy to a concept of absolute space which was even then being vigorously challenged by Einsteinian physics. Perhaps one can here detect a general danger for philosophers who try to model philosophical theses too closely after analogues selected from the sciences–those notions selected may already be on the verge of being renovated or replaced. It must be in part a belated recognition of this danger which leads Boodin to argue in the introduction to the revised edition of RU, not only that there is still some room for pure space in an Einsteinian universe, at least in a hypothetically matter-free region, and that other interpretations of Einstein’s equations are possible besides his own, but also that the metaphysical concepts of space and time can not be confined to the exclusively metrical demands of science (RU, 2nd ed., xlvii; also see xxx―xl). “Temporal passage and the real spatial spreadoutness” of events are the ultimate sources of meaning for both scientific and philosophical schemes (ibid., xxxiv); and each must conform to these facts in the manner required by the purpose of the respective discipline. The philosopher’s function is described as the poetic weaving of a world picture providing for all human interests; and although he cannot ignore the scientific interest in measurement, he is not restricted to it (ibid., xxxv). Thus, if the theory of consciousness requires support by analogy to a similar constancy of space and time, such support may be available in the common-sense and philosophical concepts of space and time even if its availability in the scientific concepts is problematic at best.
Of course, one could provide a more satisfactory defense against the charge of postulating a constancy to consciousness contrary to the best evidence if one could reinterpret the observed facts so that they become evidence for the theory rather than against it. This seems to be the importance of Boodin’s shift to identifying consciousness, or awareness, with sensitiveness or selectivity. By identifying consciousness with a trait which is quite possibly present even in the most rudimentary events, he forges a genuine philosophical universal, although his language is unquestionably borrowed from psychological descriptions of stimulus-response situations. By sacrificing most of its unique introspective significance, Boodin uses the term ‘awareness’ to designate a fundamental feature common to the responses of elementary particles investigated by physicists and the deliberate and reasoned human behavior which interests psychologists and sociologists.16
If this move strengthens the evidential basis for the theory, it seems at the same time to undercut, at least partially, the grounds which first occasioned its proposal. I refer specifically to the reparability of mental activity and consciousness. The continuance of mental processes in the absence of consciousness was a major reason for supposing consciousness to be distinct from mentality. Now awareness is discovered not only always to accompany mental processes but physical processes as well. Is it not in fact the vanished contrast between conscious and unconscious mental  states that gives the concept of t a distinct consciousness most of its operational significance? We could perhaps note the differences between merely organic awareness and cognitive awareness; but those are ascribed entirely to variations in the underlying activities. Thus their contrast does not provide a basis for abstracting consciousness as a distinct and ontologically independent attribute.
Moreover, once we have universalized awareness and distinguished two kinds, do we not open the door for infinite levels of awareness corresponding to the structural complexity of the underlying events? If one pole of this continuum (cognitive consciousness) were linked to organisms with high grade mentality, might not one justifiably suspect that for every degree of consciousness there would be a degree of mentality representing the same reality, the former from the subjective side, the latter from the objective? Whitehead, for example, who also wishes to universalize awareness, drops energy―matter terminology altogether to speak of actual entities with feelings, which feelings become conscious (Boodin’s cognitive consciousness) in proportion to their intellectual complexity.17 Boodin evidently holds back from this radical psychologization of nature because of a reluctance to use animistic modes of expression (RU, 2nd ed., 1―li). However, the move would have the advantage of ontological simplification by eliminating mind as a separate kind of energy.
Another reason for the original separation of consciousness from mentality was the difference it makes–its irreducible quality. This quality is a given for all our waking experience. Boodin’s subsequent extension of awareness to the whole of nature is shot through with terms, such as ‘sensitiveness,’ ‘selectivity,’ and ‘responsiveness,’ whose significance is not phenomenological but behavioral. He must acknowledge that different levels of awareness are “split―off” from each other. The extension of awareness to all entities is admittedly inferential (RU, 2nd ed., lii); but, precisely for that reason, it is unclear what is being extended. According to Boodin’s earlier account, a principal difference made by consciousness is the experience of value. Do we wish to say that all entities experience value; and, if so, what operational significance can be given to that claim? The universal extension of consciousness seems to wrench the concept from the context in which it does make a difference to apply it in others where no such difference can be detected. Moreover, if a difference were detectable, would it not have to be energetic in nature and therefore subsumable under causal or behavioral explanation? Part of the problem appears to be that the original idea of a constant consciousness is motivated by certain epistemological difficulties, whereas its subsequent generalization is in the interest of cosmology. But can we assume that necessary elements of our waking experience are applicable to the world at large, or even the univocity of terms used to designate behaviorally analogous factors in the two domains? In short, is not the extension of consciousness to inorganic happenings equally as suspect as the reduction of consciousness to behavioral patterns? If the latter is insufficient to explain the phenomenon, is  not the former a sort of conceptual over-kill?
However, supposing that awareness is to be made into a cosmological category, cannot the qualitatively different conceptual awareness be better explained as a social phenomenon arising from the association of awarenesses at the physical level? We certainly do something similar with the notion of matter, applying the same name both to the macrocosmic visible stuff of an object and to the microcosmic molecular structures of that same object. If asked, we would be able to say that the macrocosmic matter was just its microcosmic components associated in a certain way. If we find no problem in building up macrocosmic matter out of qualitatively different microcosmic components, why should we not similarly build up cognitive awareness out of the complex association of many physical awarenesses? Of course, awareness is not a separable energy or substance, as Boodin has correctly emphasized; but we can conceive a social hierarchy of attributes as readily as of things and even without separation from things. If our bodies are a social organization of cellular activities, may not our consciousness be a social organization of the awarenesses of those same activities or of some subset of them? Boodin objects to making consciousness an emergent quality because “it is involved in all action” (RU, 2nd ed., lii), and hence prior to any possible emergence. However, this need be true only of the most elemental form of awareness–with which we have no direct acquaintance–, while our familiar consciousness could be a complex composite in which the individual contributions are indistinguishable. Boodin fails to appreciate that only the hypothesized awareness occasioned by observable behaviors is needed for cosmology, however much the consciousness of our immediate experience may be indispensable for epistemology or value theory.
Despite these handicaps, Boodin’s proposal still has much to recommend it. The aptness of his reasoning is especially apparent if one begins by asking, as perhaps historians of philosophy ought always to do, not whether the theory is true, but rather whether it is a worthy response to the problems to which its author addresses himself. In this connection, it must be recalled that the original purpose of Boodin’s work is to extend, and to provide an ontological foundation for, pragmatism. His basic presupposition is that the pragmatic program is demonstrably sound and that the method can be applied in metaphysics as well as in psychology, education, or epistemology. This presupposition eventually leads him to his rather unconventional conclusions regarding consciousness, precisely because they seem to be the most logical extension of previous advances in the understanding of mentality made by Peirce, lames, and Dewey.18 For the purposes of a rather rough characterization, one could say that the pragmatists had de-Cartesianized mind. That is, they had discovered that mental processes could be handled in terms of the conditions generating them and of the consequences they subsequently produce. This approach, in clear contradiction to all mind-matter dualisms, obviously requires the causal continuity of all behavior, whether mental or physical. Boodin observes  that consciousness does not play any significant role in the pragmatic accounts of mentality, which require only events and processes continuous with physical events and processes. On the other hand, he finds patently unconvincing the pragmatists’ attempts to reduce consciousness to some otherwise identifiable activity, such as breathing or kinesthetic sensation. Here he sides with G. E. Moore against both pragmatists and idealists. In so doing, he makes the question of the metaphysical status of consciousness crucial for his thought.
Given these parameters, Boodin’s final solution is elegantly tailored to the problem and not outrageously extravagant, considering its theoretical advantages. Those advantages are:
(1) It is a solution which harmonizes well with the previously established theories which Boodin takes as his point of departure. It leaves untouched advances the pragmatists had made in understanding mentality, especially their removal of thought from an occult realm into the realm of processes open to scientific investigation. Nor does it contradict any other established scientific findings; although as has been observed, it may do some violence to common sense.
(2) It is an economical solution to a difficulty fraught with the embarrassing possibility of endless forms of consciousness, at least one for each distinct type of mental event and perhaps an infinite regress of forms generated by each primary form, depending on how one handles the reflexivity of self-conscious experiences. Boodin’s hypothesized one invariant field of consciousness accounts for a common characteristic of many mental states by sufficiently abstracting that characteristic from its context so that there is no need to suppose separate acts or stretches of consciousness, while avoiding the threat of infinite regress by making consciousness a different logical and ontological type from the events and processes qualified by it.
(3) It is a fruitful solution insofar as a definitive severing of consciousness from mentality avoids a number of complications arising from its admixture with mental phenomena. Once one recognizes that both objective and subjective facts may be either conscious or unconscious, one can dismiss consciousness as having anything to do with the distinction between subjective and objective. Afterwards, drawing the distinction becomes the much more manageable task of determining whether a given fact can be shared by more than one observer. Similarly, a simplification of the metaphysical distinction between the self (subject or ego) and its objects is possible after abandoning the notion that one is essentially characterized by consciousness. Following the realization that consciousness illumines both ego and non-ego, one may draw the distinction along observed organizational lines, much as one distinguishes other sorts of everyday objects. Thus the introspective or a priori determination of the demarcation between subject and object can be abandoned for a largely empirical investigation aimed at separating the strains of a relatively permanent associative context from the transient facts forming its content.19
 (4) Finally, Boodin thought there were a couple of important practical advantages consequent upon the adoption of his theory. Although today these would not generally be accorded the importance they once enjoyed, they should perhaps be mentioned for their historical interest. With due acknowledgments to James and Fechner, he suggests that his theory may provide certain emotional and religious satisfactions by in no way restricting the possibility of consciousness to “skulls like ours,” thereby allowing for the possibility of a cosmic companion or observer.20 By the same token, an individual’s personal identity may not be inseparably linked to the “gross continuity of the body,” since the set of tendencies constituting the self may perhaps be borne by subtler energetic conditions or may be reconstituted should the appropriate conditions pertain at some future time. Although immortality is therefore not ruled out by the theory, the sort of immortality especially appropriate to it is that in which continued existence as an active subject is exchanged for the objective continuance of the person, or indeed even of a whole society, in its “spiritualized body of mind,” i.e. in the enduring results of its creative activity.21
The cosmological use of the concept of consciousness complicates the theory considerably and changes it in some significant respects. It does not seem to add anything by way of improving its explanatory power within the original project of constructing a pragmatic metaphysics. That original project still seems to be an admirable effort to handle issues which were glossed over in the more cautious and restricted epistemological and logical investigations of the pragmatists. And that part of the project which attempts “to arrive at the operational significance of consciousness” (“Fictions,” 705) remains interesting today, because it manifests the sort of creative innovation, speculative audacity, and eagerness to simplify frequently found in our thought about things but seldom present in our much more tradition-dominated thought about ourselves.
1 A Realistic Universe (New York, 1916), xix; hereafter RU. Return
2 RU, vii; cf. “From Protagoras to William James,” Monist XXI (1911), 90―91. Return
3 See “Pragmatic Realism,” Monist XX (1910), 602―614, esp. 608―614. Return
4 RU, xvi; also cf. “Truth and Meaning,” Psychological Review XV (1908), 172―180. Return
5 This is tantamount to its being pragmatic, for “pragmatism [as a movement] is the baptism of a new consciousness as to the meaning of science and “pragmatism [as a point of view] is essentially the scientific spirit” (“From Protagoras to William James,” 85―86). Return
6 RU, xxii; these are reaffirmed and related to subsequent scientific developments in “Cosmic Attributes,” Philosophy of Science X (1943), 1―12. Return
7 “Analysis and Wholism,” Philosophy of Science X (1943), 214; hereafter “Analysis.” In another article “being as an entity” is forthrightly designated a fiction (“Fictions in Science and Philosophy,” Journal of Philosophy XL , 678―680; hereafter “Fictions”). Return
8 My treatment will be based on the seminal statement in RU, which remains unchanged in the revised edition of that work (1931), except for some comments in a new introduction. Later works will be brought in whenever they incorporate significant departures from the earlier doctrine. Return
9 RU, 117. Both in this work and in his later writings he concludes that present evidence warrants our believing it to be a distinct kind of energy, not reducible to other kinds. Return
10 G. E. Moore, “The Subject Matter of Psychology,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1909―10), 36―62, esp. 38―40. Return
11 RU, 175. Also cf. “Knowing Selves,” Psychological Review XIX (1919), 129―138. Return
12 In Cosmic Evolution (New York, 1925), 399, Boodin uses ‘medium’ at least once in the more usual sense. Matter, not consciousness, is referred to as the medium for all types of energy, whether electromagnetic or mental. In this work, hereafter cited as CE, he also drops the ‘medium’ terminology for consciousness, while retaining the major elements of his theory. Return
13 See “Fictions,” 704―709, where it is argued that all attempts to treat consciousness as an entity or as an adjectival property violate the principle of Occam’s razor and create mere fictions. Return
14 Interestingly, he does not write of “empty times,” the meaning of which, if there is a meaning, is rather less obvious. Return
15 In the introduction to the second edition of RU and later works Boodin no longer writes of primary and secondary consciousness but only of different levels of awareness: physical, organic, and cognitive. Return
16 He can also speak of their common feature as reacting as wholes, like organisms, rather than merely mechanically. See “Analysis,” where other references may be found in ftn. 13, p. 221. Return
17 See Process and Reality (New York, 1929), 347 ff., 407408. Return
18 Although he subsequently criticizes several features of pragmatic explanations of mind in CE, 221―228. Return
19 “Truth and Agreement,” Psychological Review XVI (1909), 63. Return
20 RU, 145; but Boodin denies emphatically, with a pointed reference to Whitehead, that God can be used as a principle of explanation. See “Analysis,” 227–228. It may also be noted that consciousness is not the only attribute capable of bearing religious significance; space, life, and mind, as the structures within which and through which individuals must realize all significant creative activity, can be thought of as modes of divine presence. See “The Universe a Living Whole,” Hibbert Journal XXVIII (1930), 583―600. Return
21 RU, 149―150; “Social Immortality,” International Journal of Ethics XXV (1915), 196―212. Return