Conscious and Meta-conscious - Deepstash
Conscious and Meta-conscious

Conscious and Meta-conscious

  • Both conscious and meta-conscious entail the qualities of experience, however, meta-conscious processes also entail what is called re-representation.
  • Re-representation of consciousness is in which one interprets, describes or otherwise characterizes the state of one’s mind.
  • Attention plays an important role is in re-representation; that is, the conscious knowledge of an experience which helps in introspection.

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Confusion in Consciousness
  • We assume that consciousness is limited to re-represented mental contents under the focus of attention.
  • This confuses meta-consciousness with consciousness.
  • Conscious processes that lack re-representation and truly unconscious processes are different. However, both are equally unreportable to self and others.
  • A mental process is not unconscious just because we’re unable to report it.

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An Example of consciousness

Consider your breathing right now- the air flow and the movement of your breathing organs.

  • Were you not experiencing these sensations a moment ago, before I directed your attention to them?
  • Or were you just unaware that you were experiencing them all along?

By directing your attention to these sensations, did I make them conscious or did I simply cause you to experience the extra quality of knowing that the sensations were conscious?

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Consciousness in babies
  • It’s debated in neuroscience whether babies are born conscious or whether they develop consciousness at some point (generally said to be five months of age)
  • It is hard to think that a newborn feels nothing. Newborns clearly seem to experience their own bodies, their environment, presence of their parents etc.
  • This means they are conscious since birth, but are unable to report it due to lack of a meta-cognition process.
  • What we see as rise of consciousness may merely be the rise of metacognition.

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Consciousness and Re-representation
  • Attention plays an important role in re-representation; that is, the conscious knowledge of an experience and introspection.
  • Subjects cannot report—not even to themselves—experiences that aren’t re-represented.
  • However, conscious experience does occur even without re-representation: For example, Dreams lack re-representation, even if they are experienced in consciousness.
  • This gap between reportability and consciousness has led to “no-report paradigms” in neuroscience.

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Conscious and Unconscious thoughts
  • Consciousness” is often used in the literature as if it implied more than just the qualities of experience.
  • The key distinction between conscious and unconscious thought is that “Conscious thought is thought with attention.”
  • If a thought escapes attention, then it is unconscious.

However,

  • Is the mere lack of attention enough to assert that a mental process lacks the qualities of experience?
  • Couldn’t a process that escapes the focus of attention still feel like something?

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Summary of consciousness
  • Consciousness may never arise because it may always be there to begin with. For all we know, what arises is merely a metacognitive configuration of preexisting consciousness.
  • Consciousness may be fundamental in nature—an inherent aspect of every mental process, not a property generated by arrangement of structures in the brain (brain physiology).
  • Reducing consciousness to brain physiology may have little to do with consciousness proper, but with mechanisms of metacognition instead.

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While our consciousness keeps the thoughts and feelings we want to be aware of, the unconscious mind holds our entire history which, without the help of repression, might actually lead us to psychological distress.

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The Traditional Approach: Outcome-Based Goals

The traditional approach to goal-setting is measured by one thing: the outcome. 

This goal-setting approach is problematic for three reasons:

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  2. It cultivates a harmful “if-then” happiness contingency mindset that removes you from the present and fixates you onto a time in the future. 
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