There Is an ‘Unconscious,’ but It May Well Be Conscious

Bernardo Kastrup


Depth psychology finds empirical validation today in a variety of observations that suggest the presence of causally effective mental processes outside conscious experience. I submit that this is due to misinterpretation of the observations: the subset of consciousness called “meta-consciousness” in the literature is often mistaken for consciousness proper, thereby artificially creating space for an “unconscious.” The implied hypothesis is that all mental processes may in fact be conscious, the appearance of unconsciousness arising from our dependence on self-reflective introspection for gauging awareness. After re-interpreting the empirical data according to a philosophically rigorous definition of consciousness, I show that two well-known phenomena corroborate this hypothesis: (a) experiences that, despite being conscious, aren’t re-represented during introspection; and (b) dissociated experiences inaccessible to the executive ego. If consciousness is inherent to all mentation, it may be fundamental in nature, as opposed to a product of particular types of brain function.


consciousness; co-consciousness; meta-consciousness; neural correlates of consciousness; unconscious; self-reflection; re-representation; dissociation; dissociative identity disorder; philosophy of psychology

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