Consciousness - An Introduction (ch3)

Conscious and unconscious action - Chapter 3

For many centuries there have been variants of the idea that the mind consists of different parts. Already with the ancient Egyptians and in ancient Hindu texts we find the assumption that the mind is subdivided into parts. Plato stated that the soul consists of three parts: reason, the 'spirit' and appetite. Above all, it occupied a central position in psychoanalytic theories of the early twentieth century. However, the more we discover about the functioning of the brain, the more unlikely the idea of ​​the divided mind becomes.

Another subdivision is the occurrence of two types of processing. This is what the 'dual-process' theories are about. Many of these theories state that one process is automatic, effortless and non-flexible, while the other is much slower, more controlled and flexible. You can effortlessly shift this subdivision over the distinction between unconscious and conscious. In daily life we ​​feel that we do many things unconsciously. When we do things consciously, we feel that our consciousness really has control over it. If that is indeed the case, how does the mind do that?

The causal efficacy of consciousness

Imagine someone throws a ball at you. Before the ball arrives you start to grab it. So you seem to be aware of the ball that comes to you, but also of what you have to do to catch the ball. So the sequence seems to be:

  1. you perceive something consciously and

  2. you perform an action on the basis of the conscious experience.

This is actually very strange, since physical information about the outside world (the ball) enters your brain and as a result you get a conscious experience. This conscious experience then ensures that you perform an action in one way or another.

Descartes assumed a dualistic approach, but this is not a solution to the problem. Philosopher Kim argued that unconscious thoughts and actions may arise from a conscious thought, but that does not necessarily mean that this is decisive. The question must be whether consciousness has a causal force. Hodgson stated that feelings, no matter how intense, can never play a causal role in physical processes. According to him, feelings are only extras. This is in line with the idea of ​​Huxley's idea of a conscious automata. We assume that our subjective feelings and conscious choices cause our actions. If... Interested? Read the instructions below in order to read the full content of this page.

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Summaries & Study Note of Ilona

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