• Ranger
    46
    I'm curious, is there anyone here who does not believe in the subconscious limen? If you do not, would there be any way you could please provide your point of view on why it does not exist? Have a good weekend people.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    There are obviously subconscious brain phenomena.

    In my view there's no good reason to believe that there are subconscious mental phenomena--thoughts, desires, ideas, etc.

    We'd need evidence that someone has mental phenomena that they're not aware of, but we don't have third-person observable, direct evidence of others' mental phenomena period.
  • Ranger
    46
    i have to read up on what mental phenomena is. Thanks for your response, ill be back on here.
  • JupiterJess
    123
    i have to read up on what mental phenomena is. Thanks for your response, ill be back on here.Ranger

    Terrapin was very specific but perhaps this example might help.

    Conscious mental content: Kevin robs a bank because he consciously wants to go to prison.
    Subconscious mental content: Kevin robs a bank, consciously he is doing it for the money but unbeknownst to him he is institutionalised and subconsciously he wants to return to prison.

    The underlined part would be subconscious mental phenomena. Whether it exists or not is still controversial as it would undermine most of our institutions, including scientific research,
  • macrosoft
    511


    Wittgenstein addresses this in his 'Brown' book, and I agree with his interpretation of the disagreement. Some prefer that 'thought' only be applied to what others would call 'conscious thought.' It's a question of grammar. (He connects this to an understanding of solipsism that makes it automatically true by redefining ordinary words). Is there any disagreement deeper than this cosmetic preference?
  • Wayfarer
    6.8k
    Kevin robs a bank, consciously he is doing it for the money but unbeknownst to him he is institutionalised and subconsciously he wants to return to prison.JupiterJess

    Meet Kevin.

    It also brings to mind the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. It was identified as a form of cognitive bias in Kruger and Dunning's 1999 study "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments". The identification derived from the cognitive bias evident in the criminal case of McArthur Wheeler, who robbed banks with his face covered with lemon juice, which he believed would make it invisible to the surveillance cameras. This belief was based on his misunderstanding of the chemical properties of lemon juice as an invisible ink. (Wikipedia).
  • Bitter Crank
    6.7k
    I don't think there is a subconscious mind in the form that Freud theorized. What there is (IMHO) is a mind that is mostly non-conscious, but is very active, and 99% without devious, twisted intentions. [There are people who are devious and twisted, but usually it isn't a secret.] It takes care of our physical needs, and does our thinking, but out of earshot of our conscious function.

    When you pick up your phone and dial a number, you are not aware of all the mental processes that are required. You are not aware of how the brain actually generates and delivers speech out of your mouth. That is a very good thing: being aware of and needing to direct the detailed machinery would interfere with higher level mental activity.

    So where are "you" in all of this? "You" are present in everything your brain does, both not-consciously (as in thinking about how to fix something while you are busy with another task) and consciously, when you are very much in the present moment.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    Wittgenstein addresses this in his 'Brown' book, and I agree with his interpretation of the disagreement. Some prefer that 'thought' only be applied to what others would call 'conscious thought.' It's a question of grammar. (He connects this to an understanding of solipsism that makes it automatically true by redefining ordinary words). Is there any disagreement deeper than this cosmetic preference?macrosoft

    Yes, the disagreement is whether (there is any good reason to believe that) you have anything with the properties of thoughts, desires, ideas, concepts, etc. except that you are not aware of them.
  • macrosoft
    511


    For me it's still about an interpretation of the terms. Most would agree that we are only partially aware of our own psyches. For instance, where do memories come from and disappear to ? I remember 'those are pearls that were his eyes.' That phrase came to me 'randomly' when I decided I needed an example of a 'stored phrase' or 'unconscious thought.' And then, if I remember Freud correctly, he would say that this retrieval was not 'random,' but subject to some kind of law (an assumption that makes a science of association possible.)
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    For me it's still about an interpretation of the terms. Most would agree that we are only partially aware of our own psyches. For instance, where do memories come from and disappear to ? I remember 'those are pearls that were his eyes.' That phrase came to me 'randomly' when I decided I needed an example of a 'stored phrase' or 'unconscious thought.' And then, if I remember Freud correctly, he would say that this retrieval was not 'random,' but subject to some kind of law (an assumption that makes a science of association possible.)macrosoft

    So the real issue, which isn't simply a terminological issue, is whether memories always exist just like they do when you're aware of them, you simply "store" them somehow so that they're present just the same, only you're not aware of them, or whether memories aren't always there just the same, and rather the capacity or disposition to have that mental content is present, but where it actually isn't mental content, or anything like mental content when it's just a disposition to have that mental content.
  • macrosoft
    511
    So the real issue, which isn't simply a terminological issue, is whether memories always exist just like they do when you're aware of them,Terrapin Station

    In my opinion, that's a tangential issue. I'm trying to point out in general terms what sensible people might have in mind when they talk about the unconscious. The old iceberg metaphor is pretty convincing in my view. The hope is that we get a more predictive and illuminating theory with a wider conception of the object (the mind or soul or psyche.) In Freud there is something like a continuum that runs from the 'psychoid' to classically conscious thoughts. I'm not terribly invested in Freud, and it's been a long time since I've read An Introduction to Psycho-Analysis (one of his last books.) But I would claim to understand why talk about an unconscious seemed useful. I also understand concerns about this concept.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    In my opinion, that's a tangential issuemacrosoft

    In my opinion, that IS the issue. It's not tangential. And it's not just a terminological issue. It's an issue about the sorts of things that exist.
  • macrosoft
    511

    I respect that position, but my natural response is to question what it means for something to exist. My natural answer is that it means all kinds of things in different contexts.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    I respect that position, but my natural response is to question what it means for something to exist.macrosoft

    I don't think that's anything complicated. Exists=obtains, occurs, is instantiated, etc.--whatever synonym we want to use.
  • macrosoft
    511
    I don't think that's anything complicated. Exists=obtains, occurs, is instantiated, etc.--whatever synonym we want to use.Terrapin Station

    I think the meaning of these synonyms will themselves depend on context, starting with the context of the sentence and expanding outward to include not only the entire personality of their user but also that of the culture from which they emerged.

    To make this more concrete, one typical interpretation of 'exists' means something like exists-for-physics. This is not some neutral position. It grasps the object (the real) with a particular method that does not justify itself.

    If the real and the method for grasping it were truly non-controversial, then it would be hard to make sense of the endless parade of -isms in philosophy.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k


    What do you see as controversial about it?

    In other words, what do you see as the confusion?
  • macrosoft
    511


    In short, I think people mean all kinds of things by the word 'exists' in different contexts. IMO, treating words as if they refer to clear and distinct meanings independent of context is fundamentally misguided and leads to 'artificial' problems that disguise grammar preferences as a kind of super-science. This is not to say that analysis isn't sometimes worth the candle. For me, though, what I call meaning holism is a useful suspicion that helps us avoid 'artificial' problems and uncharitable misreadings of others' communicative intentions.

    EXAMPLES

    Does she love me? (Does love exist in her 'heart' for me?)

    Am I talented at painting/music/etc? (Does real quality exist in my work?)

    Do you get me? ('Does the meaning in my 'head' also exist in yours')

    There is a God. (Is this really a statement about an object for physicists? I don't know exactly what theists mean. Some of them might not themselves. But I think they mostly don't mean what some of their critics take them to mean.)

    The correspondence theory of truth is true. (This has some weird problems. How does this theory exist? And to what does it itself correspond that is mind-independent?)
  • Valentinus
    70
    It is difficult for me to see the original question without starting with the question of whether the psyche has a nature that can be studied at all. The "subconscious" is part of a model. Is it stupid to work on these kinds of models?
    In the pursuit of that question, it may not be useless to point out models made to explain behavior in the most general sense of the word are not the same as those developed to try and help people in real time with awful problems. Freud and Jung had patients. Skinner created some.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    EXAMPLES

    Does she love me? (Does love exist in her 'heart' for me?)

    Am I talented at painting/music/etc? (Does real quality exist in my work?)

    Do you get me? ('Does the meaning in my 'head' also exist in yours')

    There is a God. (Is this really a statement about an object for physicists? I don't know exactly what theists mean. Some of them might not themselves. But I think they mostly don't mean what some of their critics take them to mean.)

    The correspondence theory of truth is true. (This has some weird problems. How does this theory exist? And to what does it itself correspond that is mind-independent?)
    macrosoft

    It's not at all clear to me re those examples that anyone would be using "exist" in some different way. You'd have to explain the different ways that you think that people are using "exist" in more detail, without just trying to contextually hint at it without spelling it out.

    I definitely wouldn't say that someone couldn't use the word (or any word) unusually, but it's not clear to me what the differences you have in mind are.
  • macrosoft
    511

    Note that your attempt to define 'exist' was basically a list of synonyms. I don't blame you for this. It's natural. I would probably do the same if asked for a general definition of existence. But of course I would also object to the relative uselessness of a general definition. I would retort that a better request would be that I interpret a particular use of 'exist.' Then I would do my best to paraphrase this particular use and finish with a reminder that meaning is distributed rather than localized. My paraphrase would really be no less 'mysterious' or 'atomizable' than the original use, but it might gel better in the context of the listener's personality.
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    Note that your attempt to define 'exist' was basically a list of synonyms.macrosoft

    Definitions are synonyms. Whether synonymous words or synonymous phrases/sentences.

    How about addressing the question I asked you, though?
  • macrosoft
    511
    You'd have to explain the different ways that you think that people are using "exist" in more detail, without just trying to contextually hint at it without spelling it out.Terrapin Station

    We need only look to the OP. Is there a subconscious? Does a subconscious exist? How this entity is supposed to exist is the crucial factor. If someone thinks that thoughts exist consciously (adverb on exist), then they might answer no. Ontology, epistemology, and identity are all entangled in the same field of meaning. I mention identity because epistemological frameworks are held self-consciously. People identify with science, logic, hermeneutic ontology, anti-foundationism, various religions, mysticism, skepticism. They don't enter stage right with no method at all either. And they persuade and are persuaded not only in terms of their conscious method (argument versus explorative discussion vs etc.) but also by presenting/perceiving possible ways of being (new self-conceptions.) From one perspective this might seem like a digression, but from a holistic perspective it's an attempt to put the 'tree' in the context of the 'forest.'
  • JupiterJess
    123
    Meet Kevin.Wayfarer

    I don't think cognitive bias counts as subconscious mental phenomena. The intent is there but it doesn't pull it off. When people learn more their intentions and approaches change.
    Dunning-Kruger is a curious one. Perhaps people need to enthused with self-confidence in order to begin learning a task.
  • Wayfarer
    6.8k
    Wasn’t being entirely serious, I must admit, but will always love the story about the lemon juice. :wink:
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    We need only look to the OP. Is there a subconscious? Does a subconscious exist? How this entity is supposed to exist is the crucial factor. If someone thinks that thoughts exist consciously (adverb on exist), then they might answer no. Ontology, epistemology, and identity are all entangled in the same field of meaning. I mention identity because epistemological frameworks are held self-consciously. People identify with science, logic, hermeneutic ontology, anti-foundationism, various religions, mysticism, skepticism. They don't enter stage right with no method at all either. And they persuade and are persuaded not only in terms of their conscious method (argument versus explorative discussion vs etc.) but also by presenting/perceiving possible ways of being (new self-conceptions.) From one perspective this might seem like a digression, but from a holistic perspective it's an attempt to put the 'tree' in the context of the 'forest.'macrosoft

    I read all of that and I haven't the faintest idea what any of the alternate senses of "exist" are that you might be proposing.
  • macrosoft
    511
    I read all of that and I haven't the faintest idea what any of the alternate senses of "exist" are that you might be proposing.Terrapin Station

    I thought of one more way to approach this. I have the impression that you are focusing on whether something exists. It's a binary predicate in the same way in all of the different contexts I mentioned. But I am suggesting that the important variable is how something exists. The idea that God is love doesn't exist in the same way as a hat or an electron. The mood inspired by music doesn't exist in the same way that the rule of law exists. My sleepiness doesn't exist in the same way the alphabet exists.

    Is existence really a predicate in the first place? In some contexts, it is usefully and plausibly treated that way. But I don't think that exhausts the use of the word.
  • WhiteNightScales
    9
    believing in the subconscious is something powerful but remember the subconscious does not
    pick up information because it is not fully aware of anything The reason is because the brain will
    be having much information that will not be useful in the end Philosophy of the subconscious Is
    still debtable
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    I have the impression that you are focusing on whether something exists. It's a binary predicate in the same way in all of the different contexts I mentioned.macrosoft

    Yes, that's the way I'm using the term.

    Re "How or the way that something exists" I see as a different issue. The thing in question has to exist for us to get to that question.

    On my view, the "how" or "way" is more or less similar in each case. It's just that the materials and processes involved differ. But yeah, I'm obviously familiar with people thinking that, say, real(/non-mental) abstracts exist somehow, where they see that as being different than material particulars existing. In my view--I'm a nominalist and a physicalist--only material particulars and their particular, dynamic relations exist (with the dynamic relations supervening on however the material stuff is situated and however it moves).
  • macrosoft
    511
    In my view--I'm a nominalist and a physicalist--only material particulars and their particular, dynamic relations exist (with the dynamic relations supervening on however the material stuff is situated and however it moves).Terrapin Station

    First, thanks for responding, and I think we have made progress in understanding one another.

    In your quote, you write : only material particulars and their particular, dynamic relations exist. But I assume that you will grant that this idea itself exists in some fashion or another. How does this fit in with your view? I get the impression that you use the predicate of existence (or existence as a predicate) to filter out the real from the unreal --which is to say categorize entities into those that really ('objectively') exist and those that might or merely seem to exist. But I'd point out that these entities being categorized already exist somehow in order for us to deny their existence-in-your-sense. I'd also say that existence-in-your-sense (as I understand it) seems like just one use of the word, a use that depends on context and intention. For instance, we had to talk for awhile before we got a sense of what the other meant (holism).
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    But I assume that you will grant that this idea itself exists in some fashion or another.macrosoft

    Yes, ideas are particular brain states.

    Re saying something like "God doesn't exist," it's not denying ideas about God, it's denying that there's something external to our brains (so our ideas, concepts, etc.) that is God, where there's an understanding that we're not positing something that we only have imaginings of.
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