In this new volume in the Oxford Psychology Series, the author presents a highly readable account of the cognitive unconscious, focusing in particular on the problem of implicit learning. Implicit learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge that takes place independently of the conscious attempts to learn and largely in the absence of explicit knowledge about what was acquired. One of the core assumptions of this argument is that implicit learning is a fundamental, "root" process, one that lies (...) at the very heart of the adaptive behavioral repertoire of every complex organism. The author's goals are to outline the essential features of implicit learning that have emerged from the many studies that have been carried out in a variety of experimental laboratories over the past several decades; to present the various alternative perspectives on this issue that have been proposed by other researchers and to try to accommodate these views with his own; to structure the literature so that it can be seen in the context of standard heuristics of evolutionary biology; to present the material within a functionalist approach and to try to show why the experimental data should be seen as entailing particular epistemological perspectives; and to present implicit processing as encompassing a general and ubiquitous set of operations that have wide currency and several possible applications. Chapter 1 begins with the core problem under consideration in this book, a characterization of "implicit learning" as it has come to be used in the literature. Reber puts this seemingly specialized topic into a general framework and suggests a theoretical model based on standard heuristics of evolutionary biology. In his account, Reber weaves a capsule history of interest in and work on the cognitive unconscious. Chapter 2 turns to a detailed overview of the experimental work on the acquisition of implicit knowledge, which currently is of great interest. Chapter 3 develops the evolutionary model within which one can see learning and cognition as richly intertwining issues and not as two distinct fields with one dominating the other. Finally, Chapter 4 explores a variety of entailments and speculations concerning implicit cognitive processes and their general role in the larger scope of human performance. (shrink)
Since the seventies, it has been customary to assume that intentionality is independent of consciousness. Recently, a number of philosophers have rejected this assumption, claiming intentionality is closely tied to consciousness, inasmuch as non- conscious intentionality in some sense depends upon conscious intentionality. Within this alternative framework, the question arises of how to account for unconscious intentionality, and different authors have offered different accounts. In this paper, I compare and contrast four possible accounts of unconscious intentionality, which I (...) call potentialism, inferentialism, eliminativism, and interpretivism. The first three are the leading accounts in the existing literature, while the fourth is my own proposal, which I argue to be superior. I then argue that an upshot of interpretivism is that all unconscious intentionality is ultimately grounded is a specific kind of cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
A clarification of Husserl's changing conceptions of imaginary consciousness ( phantasy ) and memory, especially at the level of auto-affective time-consciousness, suggests an interpretation of Freud's concept of the Unconscious. Phenomenology of consciousness can show how it is possible that consciousness can bring to present appearance something unconscious, that is, something foreign or absent to consciousness, without incorporating it into or subordinating it to the conscious present. This phenomenological analysis of Freud's concept of the Unconscious leads to (...) a partial critique of Freud's metapsychological determination of the Unconscious as a simple, internally unperceived representational consciousness. It also suggests an account of how a reproductive inner consciousness can free the subject from the experience of anxiety by allowing for possibilities of self-distanciation and symbolic self-representation that protect the subject from traumatic affection by and through its own instinctual drives. (shrink)
The Anna Karenina Theory says: all conscious states are alike; each unconscious state is unconscious in its own way. This note argues that many components have to function properly to produce consciousness, but failure in any one of many different ones can yield an unconscious state in different ways. In that sense the Anna Karenina theory is true. But in another respect it is false: kinds of unconsciousness depend on kinds of consciousness.
Motivationally unconscious (M-unconscious) states are unconscious states that can directly motivate a subject’s behavior and whose unconscious character typically results from a form of repression. The basic argument for M-unconscious states claims that they provide the best explanation to some seemingly non rational behaviors, like akrasia, impulsivity or apparent self-deception. This basic argument has been challenged on theoretical, empirical and conceptual grounds. Drawing on recent works on apparent self-deception and on the ‘cognitive unconscious’ I (...) assess those objections. I argue that (i) even if there is a good theoretical argument for its existence, (ii) most empirical vindications of the M-unconscious miss their target. (iii) As for the conceptual objections, they compel us to modify the classical picture of the M-unconscious. I conclude that M-unconscious states and processes must be affective states and processes that the subject really feels and experiences —and which are in this sense conscious— even though they are not, or not well, cognitively accessible to him. Dual process psychology and the literature on cold-hot empathy gaps partly support the existence of such M-unconscious states. (shrink)
The concept of unconscious knowledge is fundamental for an understanding of human thought processes and mentation in general; however, the psychological community at large is not familiar with it. This paper offers a survey of the main psychological research currently being carried out into cognitive processes, and examines pathways that can be integrated into a discipline of unconscious knowledge. It shows that the field has already a defined history and discusses some of the features that all kinds of (...)unconscious knowledge seem to share at a deeper level. With the aim of promoting further research, we discuss the main challenges which the postulation of unconscious cognition faces within the psychological community. (shrink)
This paper explores the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious and critiques it from a phenomenlogical perspective, especially Sartre and Heidegger, with a view to conceptualizing the unconscious from an ontological rather than psychological mindset.
In his book The rediscovery of the mind John Searle claims that unconscious mental states (1) have first-person "aspectual shape", but (2) that their ontology is purely third-person. He attempts to eliminate the obvious inconsistency by arguing that the aspectual shape of unconscious mental states consists in their ability to cause conscious first-person states. However, I show that this attempted solution fails insofar as it covertly acknowledges that unconscious states lack the aspectual shape required for them to (...) play a role in psychological explanation. (shrink)
This paper argues against the view that the Freudian unconscious can be understood as an extension of ordinary belief-desire psychology. The paper argues that Freud’s picture of the mind challenges the paradigm of folk psychology, as it is understood by much contemporary philosophy of psychology and cognitive science. The dynamic unconscious postulated by psychoanalysis operates according to rules and principles which are distinct in kind from those rules that organise rational and conscious thought. Psychoanalysis offers us a radical (...) reconception of our ordinary way of thinking about our own minds. (shrink)
In recent years, a number of contemporary proponents of psychoanalysis have sought to derive support for their conjectures about the _dynamic_ unconscious from the empirical evidence in favor of the _cognitive_ unconscious. It is our contention, however, that far from supporting the dynamic unconscious, recent work in cognitive science suggests that the time has come to dispense with this concept altogether. In this paper we defend this claim in two ways. First, we argue that any attempt to (...) shore up the dynamic unconscious with the cognitive unconscious is bound to fail, simply because the latter, as it is understood in contemporary cognitive science, is incompatible with the former, as it is traditionally conceived by psychoanalytic theory. Second, we show how psychological phenomena traditionally cited as evidence for the operation of a dynamic unconscious can be accommodated more parsimoniously by other means. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to put the work of the past several decades on the problems of implicit learning and unconscious cognition into an evolutionary context. Implicit learning is an inductive process whereby knowledge of a complex environment is acquired and used largely independently of awareness of either the process of acquisition or the nature of that which has been learned. Characterized this way, implicit learning theory can be viewed as an attempt to come to grips with the (...) classic epistemological issues of knowledge acquisition, representation and use. The argument is made that the process, despite its seeming cognitive sophistication, is of considerable evolutionary antiquity and that it antedates awareness and the capacity for conscious control of mentation. Various classic heuristics from evolutionary biology are used to substantiate this claim and several specific entailments of this line of argument are outlined. (shrink)
This paper explores the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious and critiques it from a phenomenlogical perspective, especially Sartre and Heidegger, with a view to conceptualizing the unconscious from an ontological rather than psychological mindset.
According to Paul Ricoeur, the Freudian unconscious invalidates the ability of Husserlian phenomenology to explicate human psychology. The stumbling block is said to be the mechanism of repression, which can not only obviate conscious access to certain ideas and motives but also distort consciousness itself. The whole enterprise of phenomenology would seem to be at stake. But we must carefully distinguish being a conscious object from being a conscious process. By means of ?micro?phenomenology?, the reflective analysis of focal dynamics, (...) I shall try to reconstruct the so?called unconscious as certain conscious processes we are unable to reflect on as conscious objects. This reconstruction utilizes two motivational principles of attention, motive attraction and motive repulsion, which affect the manner in which attention addresses its object. The principles explain how reflective consciousness can be so repelled by certain directly conscious events that it withdraws with subliminal rapidity, leaving those events reflectively unconscious. Various sorts of evidence, including experimental results in subliminal psychology, can be used to support this phenomenological hypothesis. Though hypothetical, the theory at least demonstrates that the existence of unconscious processes is not an a priori basis for dismissing phenomenological methodology. (shrink)
Multiple drug resistant strains of HIV and continuing difficulties with vaccine development highlight the importance of psychologi- cal interventions which aim to in uence the psychosocial and emo- tional factors empirically demonstrated to be significant predictors of immunity, illness progression and AIDS mortality in seropositive persons. Such data have profound implications for psychological interventions designed to modify psychosocial factors predictive of enhanced risk of exposure to HIV as well as the neuroendocrine and immune mechanisms mediating the impact of such factors (...) on disease progression. Many of these factors can be construed as unconscious mental ones, and psychoanalytic self-psychology may be a useful framework for conceptualizing psychic and immune de- fence as well as bodily and self-integration in HIV infection. Al- though further prospective studies and cross-cultural validation of research are necessary, existing data suggest that psychoanalytic insights may be useful both in therapeutic interventions and evaluative research which would require an underlying epistemology of the complementarity of mind and matter. (shrink)
It is common knowledge that the notion of the unconscious is an essential part of psychoanalytic theory. In recent years, however, Arthur Pap and A. C. MacIntyre have argued that Freud's theory of the unconscious is not explanatory. But a close examination of Pap's and MacIntyre's arguments reveals that they are invalid. If one wishes to show that the theory of the unconscious is unexplanatory, different arguments will be necessary.
To illustrate one way in which philosophy may be helpful rather than merely critical in the present state of psychoanalytic theorizing, an attempt is made to disentangle issues in controversies about the unconscious. Eleven questions are distinguished and discussed. Logical, linguistic, methodological, metaphysical, empirical, and pragmatic components are set apart. It is found that there are no logical barriers to a construct of the unconscious, that it is linguistically feasible, need violate no methodological concepts, nor foreclose a metaphysical (...) issue, nor have deleterious pragmatic effect. Feasibility and desirability of the construct in all these respects will depend on the character and extent of the scientific findings. Some issues are also raised concerning desirable types of models in the explanation of conduct, and concerning the relevance of recent studies of consciousness. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: In a recent article, D. H. Finkelstein offers a new proposal about the distinction between conscious and unconscious belief On his proposal, someone’s belief is conscious if he has an ability to express it simply by self-ascribing it; and someone’s belief is unconscious if he lacks such an ability. In this article, I argue that his proposal is inadequate, and then offer a somewhat different proposal. On my proposal, someone’s belief is conscious if he has self-ascribed this (...) belief without recourse to any evidence about his behaviour; and someone’s belief is unconscious if it is not conscious.RÉSUMÉ: Dans un récent article, D. H. Finkelstein propose une nouvelle distinction entre croyance consciente et inconsciente. Suivant cette proposition, la croyance de quelqu’un est consciente s’il a la capacité de l’exprimer tout simplement en se l’attribuant; sa croyance est inconsciente s’il n’en a pas la capacité. Dans cet article, je fais valoir que cette proposition est inadéquate, et je propose ensuite une nouvelledistinction. Suivant cette distinction, la croyance de quelqu’un est consciente s’il s’attribue cette croyance sans s’appuyer sur aucun élément de preuve au sujet de son comportement; sa croyance est inconsciente si elle n’est pas consciente. (shrink)
Alasdair MacIntyre argues that Freud's conception of the unconscious is complicated by his tendency to use the term in two different ways. MacIntyre shows how Freud uses the term "unconscious" both as a straightforward description of psychological phenomena, and as an evaluative notion to explain the links between childhood events and adult behavior. This clarification helps to shed light on the many misunderstandings of psychoanalysis, and to separate out what is and what is not of lasting value in (...) Freud's account of the unconscious. This new edition includes a substantial new preface by the author, in which he discusses repression, determinism, transference, and "practical rationality," and offers a rare comparison of Aristotle and Lacan on the concept of desire. MacIntyre takes the opportunity to reflect both on the reviews and criticisms of the first edition and also on his own philosophical stance. (shrink)
Abstract Having, in previous papers, distinguished at least three forms of consciousness (a first?order, information?processing state?called here ?C1'; a second?order, direct, non?inferential accessing of other conscious states?called here ?C2'; and a phenomenological state?called here ?CN'), I now further examine their differences. This examination has some surprising results. Having argued that neither C1 nor C2 is a phenomenological state?and so different from CN?I now show that CN itself is best thought of as a subclass of a larger state ('CS'?sensation consciousness). CS (...) is the set of image?representation states. CN is that set of CS states that we are also C2 about. I argue that CN states should be considered a subset of CS states because they share with other CS states imagistic representational powers as opposed to the sentential ones of C1 and C2. And I argue that there are good reasons to consider any state which utilises imagistic representation as a sensation. I then show that the notion of an unconscious sensation makes sense if we think of it as a CS state that is not C2. More radically, I conclude that either it makes sense to say that there are unfelt sensations or there are felt sensations (phenomenological states) we are not conscious about. While there are good reasons for saying one or the other of these surprising things, I argue that the second, more radical sounding, alternative is actually better motivated?and not quite so surprising as it sounds. (shrink)
The traditional model of human cognition (TMHC) postulates an ontological and/or structural gap between conscious and unconscious mental representations. By and large, it sees higher-level mental processes as commonly conceptual or symbolic in nature and therefore conscious, whereas unconscious, lower-level representations are conceived as non-conceptual or sub-symbolic. However, experimental evidence belies this model, suggesting that higher-level mental processes can be, and often are, carried out in a wholly unconscious way and/or without conceptual representations, and that these can (...) be processed unconsciously. This entails that the TMHC, as well as the theories on mental representation it motivates and that in turn support it, is wrong. (shrink)
Unconscious thought theory (UTT) states that all information is taken into account and the attributes are weighted optimally resulting in better decisions in complex decision problems during unconscious thought. Very few studies have investigated the actual amount of information processed in the unconscious thought condition. We hypothesized that only a small subset of information might be considered during unconscious thought (like conscious thought). To test this possibility and to explore the way attribute information is selected and (...) combined, we performed computer simulations on the datasets used by previous researchers. The simulations showed that considering a small subset (3-4) of attributes, yields results comparable to previous studies. There is no need to posit infinite capacity in the unconscious thought condition. The results also suggest that weight information is used for attribute selection that could potentially explain the difficulties in replicating the deliberation-without-attention effect. (shrink)
Newell and Shanks (2012) argue that an explanation for blindsight need not appeal to unconscious brain processes, citing research indicating that the condition merely reflects degraded visual experience. We reply that other evidence suggests that blindsighters’ predictive behavior under forced choice reflects cognitive access to low-level visual information that does not correlate with visual consciousness. Thus, while we grant that visual consciousness may be required for full visual experience, we argue that it may not be needed for decision making (...) and judgment. (shrink)
The representational nature of human cognition and thought in general has been a source of controversies. This is particularly so in the context of studies of unconscious cognition, in which representations tend to be ontologically and structurally segregated with regard to their conscious status. However, it appears evolutionarily and developmentally unwarranted to posit such segregations, as,otherwise, artifact structures and ontologies must be concocted to explain them from the viewpoint of the human cognitive architecture. Here, from a by-and-large Classical cognitivist (...) viewpoint, I show why this segregation is wrong, and elaborate on the need to postulate an ontological and structural continuity between unconscious and conscious representations. Specifically, I hypothesize that this continuity is to be found in the symbolic-based interplay between the syntax and the semantics of thought, and I propose a model of human information processing characterized by the integration of syntactic and semantic representations. (shrink)
Blindsight and vision for action seem to be exemplars of unconscious visual processes. However, researchers have recently argued that blindsight is not really a kind of uncon- scious vision but is rather severely degraded conscious vision. Morten Overgaard and col- leagues have recently developed new methods for measuring the visibility of visual stimuli. Studies using these methods show that reported clarity of visual stimuli correlates with accuracy in both normal individuals and blindsight patients. Vision for action has also come (...) under scrutiny. Recent ﬁndings seem to show that information processed by the dor- sal stream for online action contributes to visual awareness. Some interpret these results as showing that some dorsal stream processes are conscious visual processes (e.g., Gallese, 2007; Jacob & Jeannerod, 2003). The aim of this paper is to provide new support for the more traditional view that blindsight and vision for action are genuinely unconscious per- ceptual processes. I argue that individuals with blindsight do not have access to the kind of purely qualitative color and size information which normal individuals do. So, even though people with blindsight have a kind of cognitive consciousness, visual information process- ing in blindsight patients is not associated with a distinctly visual phenomenology. I argue further that while dorsal stream processing seems to contribute to visual awareness, only information processed by the early dorsal stream (V1, V2, and V3) is broadcast to working memory. Information processed by later parts of the dorsal stream (the parietal lobe) never reaches working memory and hence does not correlate with phenomenal awareness. I con- clude that both blindsight and vision for action are genuinely unconscious visual processes. (shrink)
Unconscious knowing : psychoanalytic evidence in support of a radical epistemic view -- The limits of rationality : vagueness, a case study -- Agency "me"-ness in action -- The placebo effect : psychoanalytic theory can help explain the phenomenon -- Explanations and conclusions.
While the human agent must have the capacity for reflexivity, intentionality and consciousness, the same agent must also be affected by the social world in which she lives: herein lies the essence of the structure and agency dialectic. This paper argues that while some realists are in principle committed to a dialectical relationship between structure and agency, there is some dissonance between this commitment and the concepts of agency that they develop. I highlight the exclusion of the unconscious and (...) habit from realist notions of agency and argue that this oversight serves to unbalance the dialectic between structure and agency thereby leading to the over-empowerment of agency. The concepts of agency developed by Margaret Archer, Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu are discussed in this paper. Archer's concept of agency is argued to focus exclusively on reflexivity whilst neglecting to include the unconscious and habit. Giddens is shown to develop a much improved concept of agency, which includes the unconscious, however, his rejection of the independent causal powers of structure and agency problematises his commitment to the dialectic. A much improved approach to theorising agency, developed within a critical realist framework, is offered drawing on Bourdieu's concept of habitus. The paper concludes with a discussion of gender, and considers how the unconscious and habit can help to better understand the myriad ways in which gender functions in society. (shrink)
This paper argues that Hitchcock's so-called 'Freudian' films (esp. Spellbound, Psycho, and Marnie) pay tribute to the cultural magnetism of Freud's ideas whist being critical of the tehories themselves.
HOST is the theory that to be conscious of a mental state is totarget it with a higher-order state (a `HOS'), either an innerperception or a higher-order thought. Some champions of HOSTmaintain that the phenomenological character of a sensory stateis induced in it by representing it with a HOS. I argue that thisthesis is vulnerable to overwhelming objections that flow largelyfrom HOST itself. In the process I answer two questions: `What isa plausible sufficient condition for a quale's belonging to aparticular (...) mental state?' and `What is the propositional contentof HOSs that target sensory states?'. (shrink)
According to a common philosophical distinction, the `original' intentionality, or `aboutness' possessed by our thoughts, beliefs and desires, is categorically different from the `derived' intentionality manifested in some of our artifacts –- our words, books and pictures, for example. Those making the distinction claim that the intentionality of our artifacts is `parasitic' on the `genuine' intentionality to be found in members of the former class of things. In Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness, Daniel Dennett criticizes that claim (...) and the distinction it rests on, and seeks to show that ``metaphysically original intentionality'' is illusory by working out the implications he sees in the practical possibility of a certain type of robot, i.e., one that generates `utterances' which are `inscrutable to the robot's designers' so that we, and they, must consult the robot to discover the meaning of its utterances. I argue that the implications Dennett finds are erroneous, regardless of whether such a robot is possible, and therefore that the real existence of metaphysically original intentionality has not been undermined by the possibility of the robot Dennett describes. (shrink)
Primary aloneness -- Incommunicado core and boundless supporting unknown -- Guilt in an age of psychopathy -- I killed Socrates -- Revenge ethics -- Something wrong -- Emily and M.E. -- Faith and destructiveness.
Freud's account of repression retains vestiges of the Cartesian model of the mind. Sartre's argument against Freud is essentially an objection to this Cartesian aspect, which Sartre's own theory of bad faith dispenses with.