The non-conscious nature of being

The non-conscious nature of being

 Recent paper by that name in Frontiers in Psychology. The abstract follows. Since I’ve long thought the opposite of what the paper claims I’ll have to read and ponder this one for a bit. The introduction follows:

“Despite the compelling subjective experience of executive self-control, we argue that ‘consciousness’ contains no top-down control processes and that ‘consciousness’ involves no executive, causal, or controlling relationship with any of the familiar psychological processes conventionally attributed to it. In our view, psychological processing and psychological products are not under the control of consciousness. In particular, we argue that all ‘contents of consciousness’ are generated by and within non-conscious brain systems in the form of a continuous self-referential personal narrative that is not directed or influenced in any way by the ‘experience of consciousness.’ This continuously updated personal narrative arises from selective ‘internal broadcasting’ of outputs from non-conscious executive systems that have access to all forms of cognitive processing, sensory information, and motor control. The personal narrative provides information for storage in autobiographical memory and is underpinned by constructs of self and agency, also created in non-conscious systems. The experience of consciousness is a passive accompaniment to the non-conscious processes of internal broadcasting and the creation of the personal narrative. In this sense, personal awareness is analogous to the rainbow which accompanies physical processes in the atmosphere but exerts no influence over them. Though it is an end-product created by non-conscious executive systems, the personal narrative serves the powerful evolutionary function of enabling individuals to communicate (externally broadcast) the contents of internal broadcasting. This in turn allows recipients to generate potentially adaptive strategies, such as predicting the behavior of others and underlies the development of social and cultural structures, that promote species survival. Consequently, it is the capacity to communicate to others the contents of the personal narrative that confers an evolutionary advantage—not the experience of consciousness (personal awareness) itself.”

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Paul Watson

I have posted this elsewhere, and hope i am right in assessing that it is our Feb. 5, 2018 discussion topic… I urge members to ponder this basic and I think irrefutable principle, although it is seldom if ever applied to assessing the working relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind/brain, which both clearly exist. Human quality consciousness is a capacity that requires an elaborate cortex. (The cortex clearly in necessary, but not sufficient for human quality consciousness – to be defined at meeting). PRINCIPLE: Like any capacity in any organism, it must coevolve with a regulatory system (i.e., based… Read more »

Paul Watson

Whew. I am going to need, and welcome, a lot of help making heads or tails of the Tsu Abstract. Oakley and Halligan is very intuitive to me and corresponds well with my thought and training and teaching over the the past 30 years. Watched the You Tube interview with Tsu and thought it very weak. Operating in default mode, I have no more volitional attention than I have conscious control over my next brilliant or dumb sentence. Hoping for epiphanies! Ready to listen. Best to all, Paul

Paul Watson

Just to be clear, it is the Tse abstract I find opaque. RE: Oakley & Halligan and their view — Yes, I believe in top down causation. Even operating in normal default mode (no special / skillful introspective effort, etc.) there would be no point in having a Top if it could not have profound effects on the Bottom in a way that changes he Bottom’s outputs and our consequent cognition and behaviors. However, I do not see a reason to insist that such top down causation would involve consciousness. The whole brain processes that produce conscious experience and action… Read more »

Paul Watson

I would love to have this view of things revised or changed altogether if it is contra neuroscience data or runs counter to important principles to do with CNS function. I look forward to our meeting on Monday. — PJW

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