Re: Unconscious Processes Vs. Unconscious Mind

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Fri May 24 1996 - 13:40:55 BST

> From: "Spencer Klair-Louise" <>
> Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 13:26:38 GMT
> I am really confused as to the difference between unconcious
> processes and the unconcious mind. I would like to get it straight in
> my head before the weekend as I'm going home over the bank holiday. I
> know you have a lot of messages to get through with the preseen exam
> questions but maybe you could e-mail an explanation back to the
> py104 list ASAP

Unconscious processes are the things going on in your HEAD that you are
not aware of (so you cannot find them by introspection) and are the
basis of everything that you do and feel: To explain the mind is to
explain those unconscious processes. Those are the "HOW" questions we
have repeatedly been raising in this course.

To answer what an unconscious MIND would be, you must first remind
yourself what a conscious mind is: Consciousness, as I have often tried
to suggest, is best thought of as feelings: That's what's going on in
your head right now; that's what we can each introspect. Feelings
include everything from a headache to understanding the meaning of a
sentence to wanting to sleep to deciding to move one's arm.

Now, first of all, most of these things don't make sense in unconscious
form: Unconscious feelings? That's like saying feelingless feelings:
Does that make sense? Unconscious desires? Who's desires are they, then,
if no one FEELS them? Unconscious decisions? Who decided?

Remember the homunculus problem: You can't explain HOW the mind works by
saying there's another mind in there, doing it all for you. Well the
same is true of an "unconscious mind." The usual problem homunculus is
the conscious one. The one that looks at the images that you have in
your head. (There is no such homunculus: YOU experience the images, and
the explanation of how you remember or recognise or categorise them is a
HOW explanation, calling for unconscious processes, not another mind.)

So, whether the "other mind" in your head is conscious (the homunculus)
or unconscious, it's bad news. What we are looking for is unconscious
processes that explain conscious minds; we're not looking for other
minds, conscious or unconscious. One mind/body problem is enough!

Reverse engineering is trying to discover those unconscious processes,
not another mind.

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