Continuing reflection on God in Miguel de Unamuno’s philosophy, we come to a problem of consciousness. He talks about the consciousness of the world which is made of consciousness of human beings.

This Supreme Consciousness of the world in Unamuno’s theory is identified with God. The Spanish philosopher emphasizes: And this God, the living God, our God, is in me, is in you, lives in us, and we live and move and have our being in Him (Unamuno, 2005, 251).

In this sense, the image of God is a product of the human intellectual, imaginative and emotional activity, and personalization. Therefore, divinity is nothing more than a need for the sublimation of reality which is rooted in human nature.

Essence of Consciousness

However, I am afraid the problem of God is more complex for Unamuno:

And if you believe in God, God believes in you, and believing in you He creates you continually. For in your essence you are nothing but the idea that God possesses of you – but a living idea, because the idea of a God who is living and conscious of Himself, of a God-Consciousness, and apart from what you are in the society of God you are nothing (Unamuno, 2005, 254).

If we assume that God is an idea in the human inner world – it is a special idea. It has a power of self-suggestion which can help to shape the attitudes and emotional life of the person. Divinity is so important in human life as a kind of axiological guide in everyday life. In this way, the essence of God defines the human being.

God-Consciousness as Purpose

One asks God for saving the soul and human purposefulness of the human world. It means that without God human life makes no sense. This is a reason why one asks for God’s name which describes God’s nature. However, the theological or metaphysical answer is not enough.

Humans look for God who can help them – Living God, which gives a human a chance of own realization by some set of aims. It is not only a question of the need for understanding but also a desire for feeling and supporting these goals. In this way, God’s world gives the human being a purpose for existence.

Humanization and God

We can interpret relations with God as a kind of humanization of reality.

A primitive human living in society has a sense of community not only with other people but also with nature, and humanize their own environment.

Referring to Jean Piaget, humanization we can connect to magical thinking, which subordinates reality to the individual’s expectations.

In Unamuno’s interpretation, everything is identified with God as divine because everything is from God’s thought and divine consciousness. So, the religion of primitive humans was pantheistic.

According to pagan tradition, only one factor distinguished humans from God – it was immortality.

Need for Personal Consciousness

If we assume that we live in God’s Consciousness, we live inside God’s as a person. At the same time, we live our life, suffer, sympathize with others, and struggle with our personal existence.

What is ‘personal existence’ or ‘personal being’? It is a state of consciousness of their own pain, presence of others, pleasure or their own limitations. It is the consciousness of their own personal existence.

One enriches God by one’s existence. Every human is one more being that is part of God as the whole of creation. It means that every existence has something that is purposeful and holy inside.

So, God is a symbol of world harmony or human reality. In this way, God brings a sense of security in human life, which is an existential necessity of the human being.

Unamuno notices: We have created God in order to save the Universe from nothingness, for all that is not consciousness and eternal consciousness, conscious of its eternity and eternally conscious, is nothing more than appearance (Unamuno, 2005, 224).

Just like the primitive human needed God’s immortality, the contemporary human needs His eternity. It is like the same problem but observed from the other side, isn’t it?

God-Consciousness as Social Need

Unamuno linked monotheism to a monarch fighting ruler–man of war. Yahweh is of this nature. In Unamuno’s transcription, Israel means ‘fighting God’, which in the time of peace changes into ‘judging God’. This God has a social character because He reveals himself to all the people of Israel, not individuals.

But, prophets’ activity makes Him a God of individuals by the philosophical and especially ethical aspect of faith. According to Unamuno, in this way, God appears in human consciousness thanks to the individual effort.

As the next step of cognition of God, humans try to define Him. Unfortunately, although they have good intentions, they destroy His image in creative human consciousness.

It turns out that God transforms from the internal human world of one’s feelings, imaginations and thoughts to socially communicative God. Unfortunately, this new God is losing His divine and vital essence well-known from the individual prayer (Unamuno, 2005).

Vitality of God-Consciousness

Unamuno quotes Immanuel Kant’s opinion here that God in human consciousness is rather vital than rational evidence of His existence.

In Unamuno’s comprehension, the rational God is a God of Israel from the Old Testament, while the vital one is Jesus Christ. The first one is simple, abstract, free from feelings. The second one is His opposition. Jesus is complex as a composition of human and divine nature. 

God is full of feelings, anthropomorphic like Jesus. It means that He is a projection of the human consciousness as Reason, Word, but especially Will. Jesus is called God of Love as an impulse of God’s Will, and a symptom of divine vitality in the world.

God-Consciousness and Personality

In Unamuno’s interpretation, God personalizes the world. A human as individuality contains finiteness and scope of knowledge about God. In turn, a human as personality is content and infinity. So, the bigger the personality, the richer the internal world.

According to Unamuno, a rich personality creates an internal society. It means that there is room for others in the internal world of a mentally rich person. This pattern of an internal world is injected by faith in the Holy Trinity. Especially important is the relationship between God Father and His divine Son.

In Unamuno’s interpretation, the Holy Trinity is widened by Mary, Mother of Jesus. In this way, the Trinity is transformed into the Top Four. Mary enriches personality with a feminine element of warm peace of a mother’s womb, unconsciousness, love, and forgiveness.

So, the family pattern has a crucial meaning in this model of personality, and God as an ideal human being. Being in this internal society is founded on interpersonal love for others and self-love.

Hierarchy of Consciousness

In conclusion, the Spanish philosopher comes to the Catholic image of God as a composition of pagan polytheism and Jewish monotheism. Catholic God is present in the timeless consciousness of the whole mankind composed of the previous, current and following generations.

In the Catholic tradition, a feeling of God is a result of the superhuman consciousness of the whole of mankind. This consciousness contains everything that is subhuman, human, and superhuman in reality.

The consciousness of every person is a composition of a variety of different selves, even self of relatives and friends. Selves of others enrich and complete ourselves, and vice versa. Therefore, thanks to this understanding of human consciousness we can be in touch with Living God (Unamuno, 2005).


Unamuno M. de (2005). Tragic Sense of Life, Trans. J.E. Crawford Flitch, The Project Gutenberg EBook

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