Philosophical (p-) zombies are constructs that possess all of the behavioral features and responses of a sentient human being, yet are not conscious. P-zombies are intimately linked to the hard problem of consciousness and have been invoked as arguments against physicalist approaches. But what if we were to invert the characteristics of p-zombies? Such an inverse (i-) zombie would possess all of the behavioral features and responses of an insensate being yet would nonetheless be conscious. While p-zombies are logically possible (...) but naturally improbable, an approximation of i-zombies actually exists: individuals experiencing what is referred to as “anesthesia awareness.” Patients under general anesthesia may be intubated (preventing speech), paralyzed (preventing movement), and narcotized (minimizing response to nociceptive stimuli). Thus, they appear—and typically are—unconscious. In 1-2 cases/1000, however, patients may be aware of intraoperative events, sometimes without any objective indices. Furthermore, a much higher percentage of patients (22% in a recent study) may have the subjective experience of dreaming during general anesthesia. P-zombies confront us with the hard problem of consciousness—how do we explain the presence of qualia? I-zombies present a more practical problem—how do we detect the presence of qualia? The current investigation compares p-zombies to i-zombies and explores the “hard problem” of unconsciousness with a focus on anesthesia awareness. (shrink)
A unifying theory of general anesthetic-induced unconsciousness must explain the common mechanism through which various anesthetic agents produce unconsciousness. Functional-brain-imaging data obtained from 11 volunteers during general anesthesia showed specific suppression of regional thalamic and midbrain reticular formation activity across two different commonly used volatile agents. These findings are discussed in relation to findings from sleep neurophysiology and the implications of this work for consciousness research. It is hypothesized that the essential common neurophysiologic mechanism underlying anesthetic-induced unconsciousness (...) is, as with sleep-induced unconsciousness, a hyperpolarization block of thalamocortical neurons. A model of anesthetic-induced unconsciousness is introduced to explain how the plethora of effects anesthetics have on cellular functioning ultimately all converge on a single neuroanatomic/neurophysiologic system, thus providing for a unitary physiologic theory of narcosis related to consciousness. (shrink)
I challenge here the concept of SOC in regard to the question of the consciousness or unconsciousness of logical errors. My commentary offers support for the demonstration of how neuroimaging techniques might be used in the psychology of reasoning to test hypotheses about a potential hierarchy of levels of consciousness (and thus of partial unconsciousness) implemented in different brain networks.
Did Freud present a scientific hypothesis about the unconscious, as he always maintained and as many of his disciples keep repeating? This question has long prompted debates concerning the legitimacy and usefulness of psychoanalysis, and it is of utmost importance to Lacanian analysts, whose main project has been to stress Freud's scientific grounding. Here Jacques Bouveresse, a noted authority on Ludwig Wittgenstein, contributes to the debate by turning to this Austrian-born philosopher and contemporary of Freud for a candid assessment of (...) the early issues surrounding psychoanalysis. Wittgenstein, who himself had delivered a devastating critique of traditional philosophy, sympathetically pondered Freud's claim to have produced a scientific theory in proposing a new model of the human psyche. What Wittgenstein recognized--and what Bouveresse so eloquently stresses for today's reader--is that psychoanalysis does not aim to produce a change limited to the intellect but rather seeks to provoke an authentic change of human attitudes. The beauty behind the theory of the unconscious for Wittgenstein is that it breaks away from scientific, causal explanations to offer new forms of thinking and speaking, or rather, a new mythology. Offering a critical view of all the texts in which Wittgenstein mentions Freud, Bouveresse immerses us in the intellectual climate of Vienna in the early part of the twentieth century. Although we come to see why Wittgenstein did not view psychoanalysis as a science proper, we are nonetheless made to feel the philosopher's sense of wonder and respect for the cultural task Freud took on as he found new ways meaningfully to discuss human concerns. Intertwined in this story of Wittgenstein's grappling with the theory of the unconscious is the story of how he came to question the authority of science and of philosophy itself. While aiming primarily at the clarification of Wittgenstein's opinion of Freud, Bouveresse's book can be read as a challenge to the French psychoanalytic school of Lacan and as a provocative commentary on cultural authority. (shrink)
The proper range and content of the unconscious in the human sciences should be established by reference to its conceptual relationship to the folk psychology that informs the standard form of explanation therein. A study of this relationship shows that human scientists should appeal to the unconscious only when the language of the conscious fails them, i.e. typically when they find a conflict between people's self-understanding and their actions. This study also shows that human scientists should adopt a broader concept (...) of the unconscious than the one developed by Freud, that is, one free from his ahistorical concept of the instincts and his ahistorical emphasis on the sexual experiences of childhood. The unconscious, understood in this way, has an ambiguous relationship to more recent linguistic and narrativist strands of psychoanalysis. (shrink)
There is a 'philosophers' assumption that there is a problem with the very notion of an unconscious mental state.The paper begins by outlining how the problem is generated, and proceeds to argue that certain conditions need to be fulfilled if the unconscious is to qualify as mental. An explanation is required as to why we would ever expect these conditions to be fulfilled, and it is suggested that the Freudian concept of repression has an essential role to play in such (...) an explanation. Notoriously this concept brings with it a further puzzle: it looks as though repression serves a purpose, and so requires an agent to execute this purpose, a repressor. Paradox is avoided only if repression is viewed in biologicalfunctional terms.The result is that the notion of the unconscious is saved from the a priori objections often levelled at it by philosophers.This still leaves considerable theoretical work to be done by psychological science. (shrink)
Borrowing conceptual tools from Bergson, this essay asks after the shift in the temporality of life from Merleau-Ponty’s Phénoménologie de la perception to his later works. Although the Phénoménologie conceives life in terms of the field of presence of bodily action, later texts point to a life of invisible and immemorial dimensionality. By reconsidering Bergson, but also thereby revising his reading of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty develops a non-serial theory of time in the later works, one that acknowledges the verticality and irreducibility (...) of the past. Life in the flesh relies on unconsciousness or forgetting, on an invisibility that structures its passage. (shrink)
There is an intimate relationship between consciousness and the notion of self. By studying patients with disorders of consciousness, we are offered with a unique lesion approach to tackle the neural correlates of self in the absence of subjective reports. Studies employing neuroimaging techniques point to the critical involvement of midline anterior and posterior cortices in response to the passive presentation of self-referential stimuli, such as the patient’s own name and own face. Also, resting state studies show that these midline (...) regions are severely impaired as a function of the level of consciousness. Theoretical frameworks combining all this progress surpass the functional localization of self-related cognition and suggest a dynamic system-level approach to the phenomenological complexity of subjectivity. Importantly for non-communicating patients suffering from disorders of consciousness, the clinical translation of these technologies will allow medical professionals and families to better comprehend these disorders and plan efficient medical management for these patients. (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.
Since Mueller’s 1958 article calling Hegelian dialectics a “legend,” it has been fashionable to deny that Hegel used thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectics. But in truth, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit has 28 dialectics hidden on four outline levels, and The Philosophy of History has 10 more on three outline levels. In Phenomenology’s macrodialectic, Hegel’s nonsupernatural Spirit–all reality, everything in the universe, including man and artificial objects–advances from unconscious + union (thesis) to conscious + separation (antithesis) to a synthesis of conscious (from the antithesis) (...) + union (from the thesis). Previous interpretations of Phenomenology have missed this dialectic: they have assumed that Spirit’s journey begins with consciousness, whereas the journey actually begins in the primordial state of nature, before man arrives and provides Spirit with its Mind (the collective mind of man). Mind then misperceives itself as a multitude of separate alien “objects”–things other than itself. The macrodialectic and all other dialectics are based on Christianity’s Johannine separation-and-return mythology; all Hegelian dialectics separate from a concept in the thesis, going to that something’s opposite (antithesis), and then return to the thesis concept. Thus, in Hegel’s master-and-slave dialectic (God = master, man = slave), man advances from potential + freedom to actual + bondage (religiosity) to actual + freedom (atheism). Only Marx and Tillich understood Hegelian dialectics. Marx’s basic dialectic (one of four) saw history separating from and returning to Communism, going from communal ownership + poverty (primitive communism, or gens) to private ownership + wealth (slavery, feudalism, capitalism) to communal ownership + wealth (final communism). Tillich’s basic dialectic (one of many) separates from and returns to God, advancing from Yes to God + Yes to supernaturalism (theism) to No to God + No to supernaturalism (atheism) to Yes to God + No to supernaturalism (humanism: humanity is the nonsupernatural “God above the God of theism”). (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
The common assimilation of Wittgenstein’s philosophical procedure to Freud’s psychoanalytic method is a mistake. The concurrence of Freudian analysands is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of their unconscious thoughts having been detected. There are several sources of this error. One is the equivocal role Freud assign the patient’s recognition of the correctness of his interpretation and in particular the part played by ‘paradoxical reminiscence’: another, the surreptitious banalisation of Freud’s procedure by followers—the reinvention of psychoanalysis as a phenomenological (...) enterprise; still another, the appeal of the activity of giving fuller expression to one’s tantalisingly vague and inexplicit thoughts and suspicions. This activity has its own intrinsic value though it ought not to be permitted to usurp the place of empirical investigation, as futile as this often is. And yet both plausible hypotheses and felicitous ‘further descriptions’ must yield in desirability to the attainment of a state of reconciliation to the person one has become however this was caused and whatever this is suspected to be. (shrink)
David Milner and Melvyn Goodale’s dissociation hypothesis is commonly taken to state that there are two functionally specialized cortical streams of visual processing originating in striate (V1) cortex: a dorsal, action-related “unconscious” stream and a ventral, perception-related “conscious” stream. As Milner and Goodale acknowledge, findings from blindsight studies suggest a more sophisticated picture that replaces the distinction between unconscious vision for action and conscious vision for perception with a tripartite division between unconscious vision for action, conscious vision for perception, and (...) unconscious vision for perception. The combination excluded by the tripartite division is the possibility of conscious vision for action. But are there good grounds for concluding that there is no conscious vision for action? There is now overwhelming evidence that illusions and perceived size can have a significant effect on action (Bruno & Franz, 2009; Dassonville & Bala, 2004; Franz & Gegenfurtner, 2008; McIntosh & Lashley, 2008). There is also suggestive evidence that any sophisticated visual behavior requires collaboration between the two visual streams at every stage of the process (Schenk & McIntosh, 2010). I nonetheless want to make a case for the tripartite division between unconscious vision for action, conscious vision for perception, and unconscious vision for perception. My aim here is not to refute the evidence showing that conscious vision can affect action but rather to argue (a) that we cannot gain cognitive access to action-guiding dorsal stream representations, and (b) that these representations do not correlate with phenomenal consciousness. This vindicates the semi-conservative view that the dissociation hypothesis is best understood as a tripartite division. (shrink)
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)
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.
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
This paper addresses the unconscious dimension as articulated in Carl Jung's depth psychology and in Gilles Deleuze's philosophy. Jung's theory of the archetypes and Deleuze's pedagogy of the concept are two complementary resources that posit individuation as the goal of human development and self-education in practice. The paper asserts that educational theory should explore the role of the unconscious in learning, especially with regard to adult education in the process of learning from life-experiences. The integration of the unconscious into consciousness (...) becomes a constitutive part of subject-formation and self-knowledge, which in turn serves as a basis for experiential self-education. (shrink)
In this article we explore the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious as it has taken shape within contemporary cognitive science - meaning by this term the mature cognitive science, which has fully incorporated the results of the neurosciences. In this framework we first compare the neurocognitive unconscious with the Freudian one, emphasizing the similarities and above all the differences between the two constructs. We then turn our attention to the implications of the centrality of unconscious processes in cognitive science (...) for the classical conception of the self. Our analysis will bring to light a bit of claustrophobic dialectic between an eliminative variety of naturalism and an anti-naturalistic form of hermeneutics. Hence we conclude by recommending the pursuit of a mediation between such extreme stances. (shrink)
The importance of unconscious cognition is seeping into popular consciousness. A number of recent books bridging the academic world and the reading public stress that at least a portion of decision-making depends not on conscious reasoning, but instead on cognition that occurs below awareness. However, these books provide a limited perspective on how the unconscious mind works and the potential power of intuition. This essay is an effort to expand the picture. It is structured around the book that has garnered (...) the most attention, Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink (2005), but it also considers Gut Feelings by Gerd Gigerenzer (2007) and How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman (2007). These books help deepen the .. (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.