Mipham argues against Dzogn ka pa that Consciousness is inherently reflexive. Dzong ka pa introduces a role for reason in the process of enlightenment. But his sticks to the received doctrine of this school that consciousness is not inherently reflexive. Mipham tries to show that this is an absurd position, because to be conscious of anything is to be conscious of yourself, being conscious of yourself. This point was recently made by Antonio Demasio in The Feeling of What Happens.
Mipham and Dzong ka pa are both Tibetan Buddhists. It is interesting that this debate was going on in the Tibetan tradition. As a reflexive sociologist I must agree with Mipham that consciousness is inherently reflexive. Other reflexive sociologists are John O’Malley and Barry Sandywell. Other reflexive theorists are found athttp://archonic.net/rst.htm
You know that you are self aware, when you catch yourself thinking about the fact you are thinking, rather than just having thoughts. But even if you are not conscious of your self-awareness to have any perception at all can only happen in relation to your self as Demasio notes. Thus self-awareness is a base state and lack of self-awareness is a degenerate state of consciousness.
However, we must consider trances. Normally people are going in and out of trances all the time. In fact when ever we are involved in an activity connected to our human finitude we normally go into a trance of some kind. In trances people are so caught up in what they are doing that certain things are blocked from awareness, and one looses the self-aware quality of consciousness. When the trance dissipates then one is normally self-aware again.
One can go into deep trance as with Erickson’s methods of trance induction when one looses all consciousness of what is happening in ones surroundings except that which is part of the trance induction itself.
So there is a form of consciousness that is not self-aware but we are seldom in it. So for the most part if you are aware you are self-aware, but your awareness of the self-awareness varies with the trance state