What is awareness? How do we achieve it? Is awareness one thing or are there various aspects to what comprises awareness? A description of different types of awareness can be discovered in several different philosophies. Phenomenology is one such philosophy that describes awareness from a specific perspective.
Phenomenology studies the way our experiences appear to us, which are based on our senses. Phenomenology is associated with temporal awareness, and I believe that experiences gained, come from more than sensations. “Phenomenology goes beyond simple empiricism in that it analyses objective reality to unearth what is really real about a thing (Gorham, 2012).” To have knowledge is to have awareness and judgment, therefore being aware of our being as it relates to our hopes, fears, and values helps to create what we know and how we perceive life. As we analyze our existence through phenomenology, the “ultimate interest is what makes life real in our experience of it (Gorham, 2012).”
The idea that awareness comes from something beyond simply sensations suggests that there are a network or system of things that comprise awareness.
Through various examples, Peter Senge (1990) shows us that the world is not created of separate, unrelated forces; rather everything is connected as a system with every action and reaction having an effect on other parts of the system. The five disciplines described by Peter Senge – shared vision, mental models, team learning, personal mastery, and systems thinking –are important aspects of the Command and Control system, which is the basis of military decision making. “Decisionmaking requires both the situational awareness to recognize the essence of a given problem and the creative ability to devise a practical solution. These abilities are the products of experience, education, and intelligence,” which are products belonging to a system larger than the individual human being (1997).
Self-awareness is important to developing shared awareness, which is what organizations must achieve in order to remain competitive. Shared awareness is an important factor for decision-making, especially in combat environments where the eyes and ears of the decision maker will be comprised of the individual soldiers and Marines engaging the enemy or engaging the local populace. One key aspect of developing shared awareness is the synchronization of individual activities such that they provide a common picture of what’s going on. When you have a truly networked team, they began to operate like nodes or neurons in the brain – each firing together in synchrony, developing shared awareness and agility.
So what is awareness? Awareness is consciously existing as individuals (developing self-awareness) and as groups (developing shared awareness) who live according to some routine (a form of synchronization). Awareness is not a given. The phrase here is consciously existing. Some of us sleep – that is, we are not truly conscious of the world we live in. Those of us in this state of being, must change…we must awaken.
“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” – Dune
I enjoy being creative and writing poetry is one passion of mine. Here I attempt to combine my love for writing poetry with my love for philosophy. Let me know what you think.
Gorham, J. (2012).Week 3 Study Notes [Lecture notes]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_980081_1%26url%3D
Senge, Peter M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.
U.S. Marine Corps (1997). MCDP 1 warfighting. Retrieved from http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Pages/Publications81.aspx#.UCfxPaNc8uc
U.S. Marine Corps (1996). MCDP 6 command and control. Retrieved from http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Pages/MCDP6.aspx