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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What if consciousness is just a product of our non-conscious brain?

Peter Halligan and David A Oakley
The Conversation
Originally published December 20, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

The non-conscious nature of being

Previously, we argued that while undeniably real, the “experience of consciousness” or subjective awareness is precisely that – awareness. No more, no less. We proposed that while consciousness is created by brain systems, it has no causal relationship with or control over mental processes. The fact that personal awareness accompanies the contents of the personal narrative is causally compelling. But it is not necessarily relevant to understanding and explaining the psychological processes underpinning them.

This quote from George Miller – one of the founders of cognitive psychology – helps explain this idea. When one recalls something from memory, “consciousness gives no clue as to where the answer comes from; the processes that produce it are unconscious. It is the result of thinking, not the process of thinking, that appears spontaneously in consciousness”.

Taking this further, we propose that subjective awareness – the intimate signature experience of what it is like to be conscious – is itself a product of non-conscious processing. This observation, was well captured by pioneering social psychologist Daniel Wegner when he wrote that, “unconscious mechanisms create both conscious thought about action and the action, and also produce the sense of will we experience by perceiving the thought as the cause of the action”.

The info is here.

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