Or is it a receiver for Ultimate Reality, MER?
Is it Soul?
In a new research paper in Frontiers In Psychology, David A. Oakley and Peter Halligan argue that our personal awareness does not create, cause or choose our beliefs, feelings or perceptions. Instead, the contents of consciousness are generated “behind the scenes” by fast, efficient, non-conscious systems in our brains.
All this happens without any interference from our personal awareness, which sits passively in the passenger seat while these processes occur.
They suggest we don’t consciously choose our thoughts or our feelings – we only become aware of them.
They ask us to consider that all the neuropsychological processes responsible for moving the body or using words to form sentences take place without involving personal awareness.
They believe the processes responsible for generating the contents of consciousness do the same.
They write that their thinking has been influenced by research into neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric disorders, as well as more recent cognitive neuroscience studies using hypnosis.
They say the studies using hypnosis show that a person’s mood, thoughts and perceptions can be profoundly altered by suggestion.
They argue that the contents of consciousness are a subset of the experiences, emotions, thoughts and beliefs that are generated by non-conscious processes within our brains.
“This subset takes the form of a personal narrative, which is constantly being updated. The personal narrative exists in parallel with our personal awareness, but the latter has no influence over the former.”
So, they argue, it is the ability to communicate the contents of one’s personal narrative – and not personal awareness – that gives humans their unique evolutionary advantage.
David A Oakley is Emeritus Professor of Psychology, UCL and Peter Halligan is Hon. Professor of Neuropsychology, Cardiff University. The full, unedited article was originally published by The Conversation, 22 November 2017, and as a research paper in Frontiers In Psychology, an open-access peer-reviewed academic journal covering all aspects of psychology.
The magazine is claimed to be the largest journal in its field, publishing rigorously peer-reviewed research across the psychological sciences, from clinical research to cognitive science, from perception to consciousness, from imaging studies to human factors, and from animal cognition to social psychology.