Attention, Monitoring, and the Unconscious Mind

Jonardon Ganeri

in The Self

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652365
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740718 | DOI:
Attention, Monitoring, and the Unconscious Mind

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The hypothesis of two early Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika thinkers, Gautama and Kaṇāda, is that conscious states of mind nevertheless supervene on the body; more precisely, they supervene on the physical states of the body by virtue of an unconscious mechanism of comparison, selective attention, self‐monitoring, information retrieval, and action‐guidance (manas). This chapter claims that this metaphysical dependence discharges the requirement that the theory of mind be a “minimal physicalism”, and that it is compatible with freedom of will and autonomous agency. The procedural activity of the postulated unconscious mind constitutes a new aspect of the notion of ownership, one according to which a mental state is “mine” just in case its contents can be accessed and compared at the subpersonal level. This mind is therefore properly describable as a self, a sort of “underself.” Someone who is alienated from their commitments and desires, or, more extremely, who experiences them as alien insertions, is their owner only in a comparatively minimal sense.

Keywords: agency; autonomy; free will; monitoring; procedural activity; unconscious mind

Chapter.  8285 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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