What

Is

It

Like

To

Be

Unconscious?
Gary Williams
LSU garystevenwilliams@gmail.com philosophyandpsychology.com

In this paper I want to respond to Ned Block’s claim that it is simply “ridiculous” to suppose that consciousness is a cultural construction based on language. In so doing, I will argue that a distinction can be made between what-it’s-like to be a nonhuman animal and the consciousness of average, adult humans. In accordance with this distinction, I will argue that Block is wrong to dismiss social constructivist theories of consciousness on account of it being simply “ludicrous” that conscious experience is anything but a basic biological feature of our animal heritage, characterized by sensory experience, having slowly evolved over millions of years. By defending social constructivism in terms of both Julian Jaynes’s externalist behaviorism and J.J. Gibson’s ecological psychology, I will claim that a distinction can be made between the basic biological experience of nonhuman animals and the consciousness that constitutes the experience of an average human adult. In other words, this paper will attempt to show that consciousness is not necessary for perception.

2

The Reactive Mind
To begin, I concur with Ned Block (1995), Thomas Nagel (1974), and many other theorists who claim that all animals have a “what-it’s-like” when perceiving the world. That is, I agree that there is “something it is like” for bats to perceive the world just as there is “something it is like” for dolphins, bats, and humans to perceive the world. It is this mysterious sense of “what-it’s-likeness” that has theorists baffled in coming to terms with “phenomenal consciousness”. Moreover, to equate phenomenal consciousness with this “what-it’s-like” is practically synonymous with saying that phenomenal-consciousness is simply experience itself, particularly in respect to sensory perception. However, the central claim of this paper will be that the basic biological experience of perceiving the world does not deserve the title “conscious”. This is not to belittle the dazzlingly rich experience enjoyed by nonhuman animals. Nor is it to deny that nonhuman animals have a unique, bodily “perspective” on the world. To deny conscious experience to nonhuman animals when they perceive the world is simply to claim that the possession of consciously accessible and subjectively internalized qualitative states is not the sine qua non of biological organisms when perceiving the world. As J.J. Gibson put it, Perceiving is an achievement of the individual, not an appearance in the theater of his consciousness. It is a keeping-in-touch with the world, an experiencing of things rather than having of experiences. It involves awareness-of instead of just awareness. It may be awareness of something in the environment or something in the observer or both at once, but there is no content of awareness independent of that of which one is aware. (Gibson, 1979, p. 239, emphasis added)

It is helpful to think of this claim in terms of the epistemological distinction between internalist and externalist theories of perception, that is, between internal constructivism and direct or “naïve” realism. On my reading of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of

3 the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes was a thorough going nonrepresentational realist about perception. Moreover, he argued for a strict behaviorism in regards to the psychological interpretation of average animal cognition (Jaynes, 1986c, p. 4). By explicating internalist and externalist theories of perception in terms of Gibsonian ecological psychology, I hope to demonstrate the conceptual foundations for Jaynesian behaviorism in regards to how consciousness could possibly be a “social construction”. Seeing how Jaynes’ understood the perceptual processes of nonhuman animals is critical for making sense of his claims about human consciousness being constructed through a social-linguistic scaffolding. Let us begin our inquiry with a discussion of internalist theories of perception. On the internalist (i.e. constructivist) account, one does not perceive the world directly. Instead, perception is quintessentially an awareness of nerve states as they are agitated at receptor sites by the physical world external to the body. Under this framework, it is supposed that the retina is directly sensed rather than the public world itself and subsequently, the quality of sensation is simply the quality of receptor sites being agitated. This perspective has of course generated a number of epistemological and metaphysical difficulties through the Western philosophical tradition. Locke said that the mind is forever trapped behind a veil of Ideas; Kant proclaimed that we constitutionally lack access to the noumenal reality, etc. As Gibson says, discussing such an internalist, representation centered theory, “The Causes of the excitation of our nerves…are forever hidden from us. We have only the deliverances of our senses to go by, and we are imprisoned within the limitations of the senses. We have to deduce the causes of our sensations, as Helmholtz put it, for we cannot detect them” (1966, p. 38). Internalist, sensation based approaches to perception dominate the epistemological foundations of contemporary perceptual research and provide thinkers like Block with a certain set of unexamined assumptions regarding the fundamental constitution of visual perception.

4 Moreover, problematic epistemologies are often employed in popular scientific accounts of sensation based theories. The Ramachandrans, for example, claim that “The visual image is inherently ambiguous: an image of a person on the retina would be the same size for a dwarf seen from up close or a giant viewed from a distance” (2008, emphasis added). Therefore, the Ramachandrans conclude that, essentially, the brain must continuously be in the business of making certain algorithmic “inferences” in order to resolve the retinal ambiguity given that, according to internalism, we only directly perceive a two-dimensional “image” or “picture”. In the same spirit of internalism, Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde start off an article in Scientific American Mind by claiming “It is a fact of neuroscience that everything we experience is actually a figment of our imagination” (2008). Following Gibson, we can see that internalists make the same mistake of Kepler in assuming that animals perceive a flat, upside down “image” of external reality as if the eye functioned like a passive camera. As Gibson points out, that perception necessarily depends on the notion of a two-dimensional retinal “image” is discounted when we consider the compound perception of insects, for whom there is no lens, and thus no retinal “image”, but yet pickup of the information contained in ambient optic array occurs smoothly. On the internalist account then, we can say that visual perception is the experience of continuously resolving ambiguities inherent to the flat retinal projection, with the brain laboriously generating a virtual model perceived by the mind or brain. Accordingly, perceptual experience is a mere simulation and direct engagement with the external world is a fantasy. Gibson overcomes this problem of two-dimensional retinal ambiguity by supposing that we do not directly perceive the retinal structure, but rather, the multidimensional structure of ambient light itself, which, in virtue of its well ordered structure, contains behaviorally relevant information concerning invariant features of the environment such as, for example, the surface

5 layout, texture, color, chemical composition, etc. Gibson diagnoses the presupposition of retinal ambiguity, and thus constructivist internalism itself, as the result of spending too much time discussing artificial perceptual experiments wherein the dynamically coordinated head-eye-body system is prevented from natural information pickup through locomotion and exploration. For example, if an animal were presented with the Ramachandran’s retinal ambiguity in a natural setting, the immediate reaction would be to actively engage with the object by moving towards it or around it and accordingly, there would be no “ambiguity” about the size of the object given motion parallax. Similarly, distorted room illusions are defeated as soon one moves about and gets a better look at the room. Moreover, the flatness of sensory input is usually presupposed only after thinking about perception in terms of a frozen snapshot of reality. Ecological information, however, does not exist exclusively in an instantaneous slice of time for, as Gibson says, “Animals and men perceive motions, events, episodes, and whole sequences” (Gibson, 1966, p. 276). Thus, the information we perceive in the environment has both successive and adjacent order. For Gibson, it is a mistake to think of persisting patterns as being a separate stimulus; biologically speaking, “Transformations of pattern are just stimulating as patterns are…motion is immediately detected by animals, not secondarily deduced from change of position”( ibid., p. 40). Accordingly, the brain is not in the business of continuously constructing a mind bogglingly detailed phenomenal model from spots of sensations differing in brightness and color. If this were true, Gibson sardonically notes that “the fact of perception [would be] almost miraculous”. Instead, Gibson theorizes that the nervous system directly picks up or behaviorally “resonates” to the ecological information available in the environment, particularly in respect to changes in the layout of surfaces, changes in the color and texture of surfaces, and changes of existence of surfaces. Accordingly, we do not internally construct something called “space” from two-dimensional

6 inputs, but rather, directly perceive environmental surfaces and their three-dimensional layouts. The “problems” related to depth perception and the retinal image are thus largely based on misconceptions in the nature of what constitutes a perceptual stimulus. Moreover, Gibson points out that this tendency to assume perceptual passivity, and thus retinal ambiguity and representational internalism, partially stems from the original Latin sense of the term stimulus as an externally prodding goad or sting upon a passive recipient. In reality, the perceiving animal is never completely passive as like a camera film or a chalk slate being impinged upon, as the common metaphor goes. Instead, the animal actively explores the environment, seeking and enacting stimulus information. For this reason, the metaphor of a passive camera is entirely inappropriate for understanding the fundamental constitution of visual perception. Under the externalist, Gibsonian rubric, perception is intimately connected with behavior and indeed, fundamentally is a type of behavior itself. And since behaviors are always behaviors embedded into a physical, public world, the epistemic situation of perception is that of openness towards reality, not mediated isolation behind a veil of representational consciousness.1 One might call this openness, as Heidegger says, an “unveiling” or “uncovering” of entities. Consequently, I think William Earle had it right when he said, “When we ask whether the object of thought is real we are asking whether that which is an object of thought (and, insofar as it is an object of thought, correlative to thought) is also independent of thought. It is not independent, of course, qua object. In this relation, it is a simple correlate. But what is it that is so correlated,

1 But how can the problem of illusions and hallucinations be accounted for under a framework of direct realism? I think Gibson is right to respond “[I]t is not one problem but a complex of different problems” (1979, p. 243). Indeed, the problem of information pick up and the problem of how that process can fail are separate explanandums. The reliable perception of information can fail for numerous reasons, including an inability to acquire all available information, deficiencies in the physiological process, etc. As for hallucinations, I would wager that, except for extreme cases, most people who experience them correctly surmise that they are hallucinating, as with psychedelic drug use or perceptual after-effects. Moreover, true hallucination is actually rare; a more common phenomenon is the modification and amplification of normal perceptual processes. The problem then becomes physiological, not epistemological

7 what is it that has become an object of thought? This, I shall argue, cannot itself be another sheer correlate, but must be independent reality itself.” In contrast to the inner-pictorial theorist, the Jaynesian externalist claims that perception is constitutionally concerned with behavioral reactivity towards an environment instead of passive impingement by the environment. Accordingly, animal life is constituted by reactive perception rather than classic sense-represent-plan-move paradigm. As Jaynes says, “Perception is [fundamentally] sensing a stimulus and responding appropriately” (1976, p. 448, emphasis added). Upon reflection, however, we can see that behavioral reactivity usually happens unconsciously and with learned automaticity, as with driving a car, moving your fingers and feet to play the piano, or, in an extreme case of unconsciousness, sleepwalking. We can say then that under the externalist position, biological perception is primarily constituted by a bodilybehavioral intentional orientation towards the public world, not by the possession of internally constructed mental states accessible by a conscious mind. As J. K. O’Regan and Alva Noë put it, “Seeing is directed to the world, not the brain…In our view, it is just bad phenomenology to assert that we take ourselves to have a 3D-model or picture in our head when we see.” For Gibsonian externalism, perception is the pickup of pragmatically relevant stimulus information from invariant environmental structures embedded within the ambient optic array; sensation (how it consciously “feels” to perceive) is quite incidental for almost all situations. As MerleauPonty says, “The sensible quality, far from being coextensive with perception, is the peculiar product of an attitude of curiosity or observation. It appears when, instead of yielding the whole gaze to the world, I turn toward the gaze itself, and when I ask myself what precisely it is I see” (1945, p. 263).

8 Moreover, as a reductio of the internalist theory, Jaynes points out that white blood cells perceive bacteria and respond appropriately by chasing them around and devouring them. If we claim that mere perceptual reactivity is constitutive for consciousness, then we are forced to conclude that there are millions of conscious entities swirling in our bloodstream, each with their own unique consciousness. Accordingly, if we are to make sense of conscious experience, we must be clear that primitive biological perceptual reactivity is not alone constitutive of consciousness. To think otherwise is to operate under the confusion that consciousness is the same as perceptual cognition. We can see this confusion between consciousness and perception quite clearly when Jaynes, recounting a meeting at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, was met with resistance by a prestigious philosopher who exclaimed “I am perceiving you at this moment. Are you trying to say that I am not conscious of you at this moment?” Jaynes rightly responds by noting that this philosopher could have put on a better case for consciousness if he had turned around or closed his eyes. Jaynes also points out that this confusion of perception and consciousness has been endemic since at least 1921 when Bertrand Russell said “We are conscious of anything that we perceive” (1921, p. 12).2 It is easy to see where Block gets his prejudice from then when he simply assumes that “we have phenomenal-conscious states when we see, hear, smell, taste and have pains” (Block, 1995, p. 230) and leaves the total explanandum of consciousness at that. It is also telling that Block admits, without embarrassment, that “I cannot define phenomenal-consciousness in any remotely non-circular way” (ibid). Perhaps this circularity is why Block relies almost exclusively on appeals to intuition to counter the Jaynesian claim that our unique form of consciousness is a cultural construction and not necessary for basic

2Jaynes thinks a better example would have been “I think I will rewrite the Principia now that Whitehead’s dead.”

9 biological coping. Indeed, without recourse to an extended argument, Block simply claims that it is an “obvious absurdity” to suppose ancient civilizations were unconscious. In order to better frame the tension between Block and Jaynes on this issue, I want to follow Jan Sleutels (2006) in positing that a central question in regards to the cultural construction of consciousness is determining the extent to which “cultural zombies” are plausible. By a zombie, I will mean a human being endowed with a different sort of “mind”, still in possession of a complex culture, capable of advanced behavioral reactivity, but profoundly lacking in conscious introspection, executive control, and the ability to explicitly reason and articulate about intentional actions. Put simply then, to interact with something as an unconscious zombie is to react to it without explicitly realizing that you have done so nor the ability to reason about why you did so. With a zombie, there is no metacognitive awareness, no conscious “Ego” monitoring events, and no experience of mental interiority or introspectable “mindspace”. Zombie perception then is quintessentially externalist, Gibsonian perception. Block finds it intuitively obvious that cultural zombies are conceptually implausible. But as Sleutels rightly points out, “Uncritical rehearsal of intuitions is the shortest route to parochialism.”

10

What It’s Like To Be Unconscious

Before we further discuss the notion of a cultural zombie, we need to introduce Block’s distinction between access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness. We already defined phenomenal-consciousness as what-it’s-like for an organism to experience the world, with sensory perception being the example par excellence. In contrast, A state is access-conscious if, in virtue of one's having the state, a representation of its content is (1) inferentially promiscuous, i.e. poised to be used as a premise in reasoning, and (2) poised for [rational] control of action and (3) poised for rational control of speech. (Block, 1995, p. 231) Moreover, it is in virtue of its phenomenal content or the phenomenal aspect of its content that a state is phenomenally-conscious, whereas it is in virtue of its representational content, or the representational aspect of its content that a state is access-conscious. (ibid., p. 232) With this distinction in mind, let us propose that a cultural zombie is a phenomenallyconscious (in strictly Block’s sense), access-unconscious, human. That is, an organism who has a sensory experience of the world, but whose mental content is for the most part not rationally accessible for conscious access, voluntary control, or rational articulation. Moreover, let us follow Jaynes in claiming that consciousness (in strictly Jaynes’ sense) is a social construction based on language. Both Jaynes and Block3 agree that to say consciousness is a cultural construction based on language means that full-blown consciousness cannot predate certain conceptual structures conditioned by culture and language. The crucial question then is whether it is plausible that our human ancestors could have ever lacked a full blown instantiation of

3 As well as Dennett (1986).

11 consciousness despite possessing an elaborate behavioral repertoire in terms of complex cultural phenomena, including language, writing, problem solving, pragmatic reasoning, etc. Furthermore, we can extend the question to ask whether it is plausible that human minds were ever structured by conceptual content, but access-unconscious. That is to say, minds that are conceptually structured, but lacking in willful, conscious access to mental contents. On Block’s account, this position is absurd. Ancient humans in possession of complex cultural behaviors such as written language must surely have had a robust conceptual life. And since it has been argued that a sufficiently large, interrelated network of concepts is necessary for having any concepts at all, and this is precisely the sort of process that seems to require rational, deliberate access to the mental content, it is unlikely that a human mind could have been conceptually structured before the advent of consciousness itself i.e. access-consciousness of concepts poised for conscious reasoning and rational control of action and speech. Sleutels summarizes Block’s dilemma nicely: …if anything qualifying as a cultural construction is necessarily based on a corresponding concept, and if such concepts necessarily involve consciousness, then consciousness cannot be a cultural construction. Similarly, if anything qualifying as a culture is necessarily based on concepts, and if such concepts necessarily involve consciousness, then no culture can be unconscious. (2006, p. 318)

To establish the plausibility of cultural zombies then, we need to show that consciousness is not necessary in the control of action or language, nor is consciousness necessary for complex conceptual structure. This would amount to demonstrating the plausibility of a culturally endowed human who does not, as Sleutels puts it, “know what he is doing or saying, nor why he is doing or saying it, in the sense that his mind is constitutionally unable to explain, elaborate, question, doubt, or otherwise conduct articulate reasonings about its contents” (Sleutels, 2006, p. 319). I want to claim that this inability to rationally access and consciously introspect and reason

12 about mental content is the natural state of animal mentality. Moreover, all animals can be said to unconsciously “have” concepts provided we have a pragmatic-externalist (i.e. Gibsonian) understanding of concepts. As Jaynes defines “concept”, The bee has a concept of flower, the eagle a concept of a sheer-faced rocky ledge, as a nesting thrush has a concept of a crotch of upper branch awninged with green leaves. Concepts are simply classes of behaviorally equivalent things. Root concepts are prior to experience. They are fundamental to the aptic structures that allow behavior to occur at all. (1976, p. 31, emphasis added) And as he defines them, “Aptic structures are the neurological basis of aptitudes that are composed of an innate evolved aptic paradigm plus the results of experience in development… They are organizations of the brain, always partially innate, that make the organism apt to behave in a certain way under certain conditions” (Jaynes, 1976, p. 31). Moreover, this understanding of concepts accords with our earlier discussion of externalist perception and reactivity. It is central to the functionality of biological organisms that they react appropriately in coordination with their environmental niche. And there is of course a “something-it-is-like” associated with this. But Jaynes’ reply to Block would be that what-it’s-like to be a habitual, behaviorally reactive animal does not necessarily involve a consciously introspectable accessibility in terms of rational, deliberate control within the mental workspace or “mindspace” familiar to the consciousness of average human adults. In fact, human and nonhuman animals can perform a wide range of complex behavior without an explicit awareness that they are doing anything at all. For example, the capacity for sleepwalking intimates that there is a dearth of consciousness within everyday sensorimotor habits. One can easily reflect on the number of intricate maneuvers carried on everyday unnoticed and uncontrolled by conscious thought. The continual maintenance of posture, breath, and balance through a preflective body schema or the automaticity of reading, writing, and speaking, are but several examples to illustrate the rise and

13 fall of consciousness throughout everyday life. Upon reflection, we can see that when immersed in conversation, consciousness is not to be found in the motor dynamics of moving your mouth or speaking your mind; proximally and for the most part we are not bogged down by the motor technicalities of grammar and syntax when in the performance of language; we simply get carried away in speaking. Moreover, the subpersonal routines of sensory perception go on quite smoothly without our conscious interference, for are you concerned with the technical complexities of auditory perception as you hear me speak this line? Moreover, in reading, we do not have to consciously focus our eyes or compensate for retinal instability; the technical intricacies of perception are generally inaccessible to conscious thought. Furthermore, learning has been shown to go on quite independently of consciousness and indeed, consciousness often inhibits the complete mastery of embodied skills (Dreyfus, 2002). A piano player or a Zen archer will tell you quite readily that consciousness of motorschemas is the last thing needed when playing a concerto or hitting a target! Nor is consciousness necessary for basic conceptual structure, for, as we said above, even the nonhuman animal has a concept of shelter and food in terms of instrumental behavioral reactivity. Surprisingly, even thinking does not rely on conscious control, for how often are we conscious of what we are going to think before we think it? Moreover, the history of scientific discovery has aptly illustrated the power of unconscious processing with moments of brilliant scientific discovery surging into consciousness with the scientist often at a loss to describe how he or she came to such a remarkable insight. For the most part, we cannot even consciously articulate how it is we open and close our own hands; we just simply do it! Let us summarize where we are. The original question was concerned with the plausibility of consciousness being a cultural construction , that is to say, certain preconscious conceptual structures preceding the full maturation of consciousness itself. But this immediately

14 raised a problem: if the complex set of conceptual preconditions necessary to construct consciousness requires a mental workspace in terms of inferential promiscuity and rational access/control, and such a workspace presupposes access-consciousness, then it is impossible for a culture to have concepts without also having rational, introspective access to them. Thus, consciousness, in the sense of access-consciousness, obviously predates the development of any complex conceptual preconditions from which consciousness could have been constructed. And furthermore, since all animals, lower or higher, possess a what-it’s-like, it is absurd to claim that “conscious” experience is based on a cultural construction. However, if we claim (following Jaynesian behaviorism) that language, writing, and conceptual structure are all possible without a mental workspace accessible through deliberate access and rational control, we can escape the above dilemma by proposing that consciousness is not ubiquitous or constantly present in the everyday habitual behavior of complex human civilization. The plausibility that consciousness need not precede the development of advanced conceptual-cultural operations is secured given we accept that conceptual structure and culture can exist without conscious, deliberate access within a mental workspace and that moreover, what-it’s-like to be an animal is primarily constituted by unconscious behavioral reactivity and not by the possession of internally generated qualitative states. In other words, because Block thinks that any society complex enough to “construct” consciousness out of language must already have a conceptual structure that necessitates it, if we can demonstrate that consciousness is not necessary for such conceptual complexity, then Block’s dilemma is mitigated. It is my contention that the preceding discussion of everyday unconscious behavior demonstrates exactly this. Accordingly, this requires that we rethink the nature of modern human consciousness in light of the distinction between consciousness and perception. As Jaynes argued, “Saying that consciousness is developed out of language means that everybody from Darwin on, including

15 myself in earlier years, was wrong in trying to trace out the origin of consciousness biologically or neurophysiologically. It means we have to look at human history after language has evolved and ask when in history did an analog ‘I’ narratizing in a mindspace begin” (Jaynes, 1986a, p. 8).

The Narrative Scaffold of Consciousness

So far, we have introduced three different types of mentality. The most basic type is simply experience in terms of perceptual reactivity. All animals “possess” this mentality and it largely operates through automatic biological mechanism. It is primarily constituted by an externalist orientation towards a public world rather than the possession of internally conscious mental states. The next mentality involves the capacity for complex human culture, including language (even writing), and the capacity for judgment, pragmatic reasoning, thinking, problem solving, etc. Let us call this mentality Z-consciousness, for “(cultural) Zombie consciousness”. Despite the impressive cognitive achievements of Z-consciousness, such a mentality would be largely unconscious in the sense of lacking deliberate, rational access and control of conceptual content in terms of an internal mental workspace and “executive ego” (For reasons which will soon be clear, Jayes refers to this executive ego as the “Analog ‘I’”). We can say that such a mentality is P-conscious (in Block’s sense), A-unconscious, with a B-mind, for “Bicameral mind”4. Humans with B-minds possess concepts, but not in the sense that they are personally responsible for them. The concepts are unconscious and largely extensional, that is, cashed out in terms of concrete experience amongst things and items of gear. A good example of Z4 For Jaynes, the Bicameral mind is based off the metaphor a divided house. On one “side”, there is the reactivereceptive man, on the other, the dominant-guiding gods. The gods are a mechanism of cognitive control during breakdown situations such that intentional commands are issued from the god-function in terms of an auditory hallucination and the man-function automatically obeys the neural command.

16 consciousness is somnambulism or driving a car without an explicit awareness that you are doing so; we can operate with a complicated conceptual understanding of traffic rules, road signs, and automobile navigation while being wholly unaware of what we are doing. To summarize, to Zconsciously engage with the world is to do so without realizing it nor the ability to practice rational storytelling within a logical space of reasons. Finally, the third and most advanced form of mentality is modern human consciousness, henceforth J-consciousness, for Jaynesian consciousness. J-consciousness is hypothesized to be built “on top of” the neurological framework of Z-consciousness.5 The essence of Jconsciousness consists in “narratizing” events through a linguistic-cultural scaffold based on metaphorical and figurative understanding.6 For example, [insert] Moreover, all three forms of mentality (reactive, cultural zombie, and Jaynesian) “possess” Block and Nagel’s sense of phenomenal consciousness as a “what-it’s-like”, but for reasons soon to be explained, only J-consciousness is agency qua agency in the sense of being conscious and poised for the control of action and speech through rational articulation and narrative practice with a logical space of reasons. For Jaynes, Block’s notion of “phenomenal consciousness” does not deserve the connotation of “conscious”. A better phrase might be “unconscious phenomenal experience” or “automatic organic reactivity”. Phenomenal, yes; conscious, no.7 When looked at from this perspective, the mysterious “seemings” of qualia do not seem so mysterious because, for most animals, “the way things seem” is, for the most part,
5 Based on evidence from the embodied/embedded paradigm in cognitive science, Michael Anderson’s “massive redeployment” hypothesis predicts that “1. Redeployment—the re-use of existing circuits for new cognitive ends— will turn out to be the norm when it comes to the functional topography of the brain. 2. There will be significant redeployment both within and between traditional cognitive domains (e.g. perception, motor control, language, memory, etc.). 3. More recent cognitive functions will utilize more, and more widely scattered brain areas. 4. Evolutionarily older brain areas will be deployed in more cognitive functions” (2008). Hypothesis four echoes Jaynes when he said “[T]here is nothing in consciousness that is not an analog of something that was in behavior first” (1976, p. 66) 6 Two recent philosophers to defend a definition of J-consciousness similar to Jaynes’ are Daniel Dennett (1986) and Daniel Hutto.

17 merely the experience of someone acting on autopilot. Without an agent qua agent in the explanandum, a behaviorist account of perceptual reactivity will likely suffice for almost all explanations of nonhuman animal cognition. With these distinctions in place, we can then define J-consciousness more precisely as being that mentality wherein deliberate, reflective introspection by an “analog I” within a metaphorically generated “mindspace” or introspectable conceptual “landscape” is possible. An analog is a type of model wherein it is generated at every point by that which it is an analog of e.g. a map. In the case of the conceptual mindspace, it is an analog of the concrete world and “mental actions” by the analog “I” are analogs of our bodily-intentional actions in the physicalbehavioral world. The most dominant metaphor structuring the operation of the analog “I” is that of visual perception and how we perceive the surrounding environs in our everyday coping. The truth of this statement has been endlessly echoed throughout history in how humans have conceived of the mind, as when, for example, Augustine gazed in awe at the “mountains and hills of my high imagination,” “the plains and caves and caverns of my memory” and the mind’s “manifold and spacious chambers, wonderfully furnished with unnumberable stores” (quoted in Jaynes, 1976, p. 2). Moreover, we quite naturally say that “My mind wanders” as if the mind were a person in a terrestrial environment, walking aimlessly along.8 We often understand
7 Unfortunately, even thinkers within the externalist paradigm for perception have overlooked this important point, placing the “mystery” of consciousness in terms of explaining the unconscious what-it’s-like of phenomenal sensory experience. So while I wholeheartedly agree with Alva Noë when he argues that visual perception is a process of enactive exploration of the world rather the possession of internal qualitative states, when he claims that this bodyworld interaction fully constitutes the conscious mind, he too is falling into the trap of confusing consciousness with cognition; mistaenly thinking that the latter subsumes the entirety of the former. Moreover, the confusion is so rampant that even when Andy Clark (2009) argues against the notion that we can explain consciousness by recourse to an enactive account of perception, he still buys into the original claim that what needs explaining about the conscious mind is “the elusive ‘what-it-is-likeness’ that seems to characterize a subject’s experience of a certain kind of redness, of a certain voice, or of a pain in her stomach” (p. 1-2). If Jaynes is right, then such what-it-islikeness is not what needs explaining in coming to terms with the “mystery” of consciousness. Instead, what needs explaining is narratizing within a functional mindspace through cultural-linguistic conditioning in childhood. 8 We immediately understand what a poet like Delmore Schwartz means when he says “The mind is a city like London/ The mind is a city like London/Smoky and populous: it is a capital/Like Rome, ruined and eternal,/Marked by the monuments which no one/Now remembers.”

18 ourselves as thinking “step-by-step”, linearly, with ideas and mental contents being separated in space, spatialized in time, and in “on” or “in” our minds as if the mind were a storage container for thought, with some thoughts being “contained” in the “back” of our minds, or on the “top” of our minds (closer to the “surface” of conscious awareness). Complex ideas can go “over our head”; we can hold an idea “in” our minds as if it were being examined like a physical object, from “all sides” as it were. I would wager that practically anywhere you find a description of consciousness or mental life, you will find a metaphor of space and time lurking “within”.9 Furthermore, Jaynes hints that the transition from unconscious behavioral reactivity to Zconsciousness occurred when humans started to cognitively specialize in what is called foveal or “sustained” attention. Foveal attention is focused attention. It is not particular to humans but humans are unique in their sheer capacity for excessively sustained, voluntary attention – what Alan Watts calls “spotlight attention”, in contrast to “floodlight attention”. This metaphor should already be familiar to us. Floodlight attention is that which enables us to drive a car unconsciously, or play the piano automatically. It is “wide”, immersed in behavioral reactivity towards an instrumental world of objects, persons and events. Cognitive scientists often refer to floodlight attention as our “cognitive unconscious”, which is “vast and intricately structured. It includes not only all our automatic cognitive operations, but also all our implicit knowledge” (Lakoff & Johnson, 1999, p. 13). It is the basis of habit and our dynamic, on-the-fly intra-action with the environment, what Alva Noë calls our “wide mind” (2009). Indeed, “Insofar as we are skillful and expert, we are not deliberate in what we do. Our skill enables us to respond appropriately to the world and in an automatic way” (ibid., p. 127). We are “bundles of habits” as William James said.

9 For an excellent overview of empirical research in the psychology of metaphor and the cognitive basis for figurative understanding in general, see Gibbs (1994).

19 In contrast, spotlight attention is narrowly focused and selective. Spotlight attention is familiar to everyone who has ever sat through a tedious lecture and been vividly snapped to attention when our parents or teachers told us to “Wake up!” Spotlight attention is what allows the student to study a little longer before checking his email or getting some coffee. Upon reflection, it is easy to see how the specialization in spotlight attention by our species is at the heart of our most important cultural. In fact, one could say, with only a little exaggeration, that the entire success of our civilization is on account of our capacities for excessively sustained, voluntary attention. As William James said, “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over, again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will” (James, 1950, p. 424) . Jaynes also speculated that it this connection between sustained attention and a voluntary will that provided our species with some of our most remarkable leaps in cultural development. It was this development of sustained attention that opened up the enormous functional gap between basic perceptual reactivity and the shared rationality of our own cultural-linguistic skill set. By essentially telling ourselves through a linguistically structured neural command to “keep at it” when engaged in a tedious, time consuming task, humans were able to develop cultural skills unparalleled throughout the rest of the animal world. Moreover, Jaynes hypothesizes that through the internalization of a tribal chieftain’s admonitory command, humans would have been able to follow social commands outside the limited range of vocalization, such as on time delayed missions. Jaynes also hypothesized that such internalization operated by means of a linguistically scaffolded hallucinatory control mechanism that offered new possibilities of enduring behavioral control through a “keep at it” neural command mechanism.10 These humans would have been

10 While hallucinatory control initially sounds outlandish on the functional level, there is actually growing empirical support for establishing the existence of vestigial features of such “bicamerality” within our own neuropsychology. See note 31 in this paper.

20 essentially Z-conscious, bicameral, and capable of advanced cultural pragmatics through wholly automatic, unconscious control schemas. And because B-minds are not capable of truly voluntary will, the novelty of behavior afforded by accelerations of spotlight attention had to still be mediated unconsciously through bicamerality. Bicamerality is essentially a neural internalization of admonitory social control through an unconscious process of auditory hallucination by a social authority in terms of a complex narrative structures, similar to schizophrenic command hallucinations.11 In unconscious cultural zombies, this substitutes for Aconsciousness, for reasoned will. Indeed, in a bicameral mentality, “…volition came as a voice that was in the nature of a neurological command, in which the command and the action were not separated, in which to hear was to obey” (Jaynes, 1976, p. 99).12 With a simple example, Jaynes illustrates the profound cultural possibilities opened up by this new behavioral control schema: Let us consider a man commanded by himself or his chief to set up a fish weir upstream from a campsite. If he is not conscious, and cannot therefore narrative the situation and so hold his analog “I” in a spatialized time with its consequences fully imagined, how does he do it? It is only language, I think, that can keep him at this time-consuming allafternoon work. A Middle Pleistocene man would forget what he was doing. But lingual man would have language to remind him, either repeated by himself, which would require a type of volition which I do not think he was capable of, or, as seems more likely, by a repeated ‘internal’ verbal hallucination telling him what to do. (Jaynes, 1976, p. 134) And here we see how the novel behavior characteristics of human culture can be accomplished within a Z-conscious, B-minded neuropsychology.13 If attentional control schemas
11 While it is often thought that auditory hallucinations occur only in cases of mental illness, recent empirical research indicates that they are surprisingly common in nonpsychotics, especially children. See Mertin & Hartwig (2004). 12 One group of researchers (Lee, Chong, & Chan, 2004) found that 53% of schizophrenics experiencing auditory hallucinations hear command hallucinations and reported that rates of behavioral compliance have been found to be between 39% to 84%. On hearing voices, see Jaynes (1986b). 13 Looking at modern neuroimaging data on schizophrenics and auditory hallucination, Olin (1999) says “Jaynes’ bold hypothesis on schizophrenia has been revived.” In a cautious, multidisciplinary overview of the theory, Cavanna et al. (2007) provide empirical support for Jaynes theory of bicameral brain structure. Jaynes’ theory of bicameral control is also shaped and corroborated by classic research on “split-brain” patients (Gazzaniga, 1970). Moreover, see Sher (2000) and Kuijsten (2009) for an overview of the empirical evidence for Jaynes’ neuroscientific hypotheses, particularly in respect to his implication of the right temporal cortex.

21 suddenly develop the power to direct behavior in ways unattainable by means of brute habit through a linguistic scaffold of hallucinatory control through complex personality matrixes, then I do not think it would be entirely implausible that powers of reason, judgement, writing, problem solving etc. could develop within an entirely unconscious society.1415

Metaphor as Mark of the Mental Up to this point, we have not adequately discussed the socially constructed passageway from a bicameral Z-consciousness to our own narratizing J-consciousness. We need to first of all be more clear in what we are talking about, a necessary stage in any philosophical analysis of consciousness.16 If we were to go along with Block’s reading of Jaynes, we would assume that Jconsciousness is simply the “ability to think, plan, want, hope, deceive, and the like” (1981, p. 81). However, by carefully reading The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976), we can readily see that Block has misinterpreted Jaynes’ definition of Jconsciousness. As Jaynes repeatedly emphasized, thinking can and does occur quite automatically, as anyone who has ever tried to close his eyes and silent his “monkey mind” can attest.17 And planning, in terms of complex problem solving and novel behavioral flexibility, can
14 Those who doubt something as complicated as writing could be executed unconsciously need only recall the nineteenth century experiments on automatic writing. 15 That such a bicameral mentality is innate and potential in modern humans is evidenced in the ubiquity of hallucinated playmates in children. Jaynes speculates that if such playmates were strongly encouraged rather than discouraged, that playmate could easily transform into a “personal god”, as with schizophrenia, religious hallucination, and other phenomena. 16 Jaynes would repudiate Francis Crick and Christof Koch when they stipulate that “Until the problem [of consciousness] is understood much better, any attempt at a formal definition is likely to be either misleading or overly restrictive, or both” (1998). For Jaynes, any attempt to “find” consciousness in the brain through neural correlation will inevitably fail unless you know what you are looking for in the first place. In other words, the study of consciousness then must begin from the top rather than the bottom. 17 To test this, stare at a point on the wall and try to hold off any thoughts or internal commentary for ten seconds. Without practice, it is quite difficult.

22 also occur on an unconscious level as we attempted to demonstrate above. Additionally, wanting can likely go on unconsciously as with wanting-to-eat or wanting-to-mate, but it can also obtain consciously e.g. explicitly desiring for something to happen in terms of articulate reasonings. The only things Block gets right about J-consciousness then is that for Jaynes, deception and hoping usually go on quite consciously.18 Accordingly, it would be quite a feat to dismiss social constructivism as “preposterous” if one does not have a firm grasp on what exactly is claimed to be a construction! As we have already said, J-consciousness is cognitively based on the capacity for language, specifically metaphor and narrative practice. Furthermore, “The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another” (Johnson & Lakoff, 1980, p. 5). And naturally, humans use metaphors in order to understand something less well-known in terms of something more well-known. This is the basic structure of analogical modeling. For example, we understand complex, abstract states such as joy (less well-known) in terms of spatial orientation (very well-known). “Life is looking up.” “I’m feeling down in the dumps.” Moreover, Jaynes introduces some technical jargon in order to deal with the necessary structure of all metaphor; the metaphier, the metaphrand, the paraphier, and the paraphrand. In the above example, joy is the metaphrand, spatial orientation is the metaphier, the paraphiers are everything associated with spatial orientation (prone means sleepy, erect means alert, etc.), and the paraphrands include the cognitive constructs of “high spirits”, “depression”, etc. To illustrate further (and this is crucial), …suppose we express the fact that we have obtained the solution by exclaiming that at last we “see” what the answer is, namely, a triangle…The metaphrand is obtaining the solution, the metaphier is sight with the eyes, and the paraphiers are all those things associated with vision that then create paraphrands, such as the mind’s “eye”,”seeing the solution clearly”, etc., and, most important, the paraphrand of “space” in which the
18 Blue Jays have been known hide food in the presence of a competitor and then move the food to another location when the competitor is not in sight, so perhaps deceit can occur J-unconsciously as well.

23 “seeing” is going on, or what I am calling mindspace, and “objects” to “see”. (Jaynes, 1976, p. 58). Finally then, J-consciousness …is the work of lexical metaphor. It is spun out of the concrete metaphiers of expression and their paraphiers, projecting paraphrands that exist only in the functional sense. Moreover, it goes on generating itself, each new paraphrand capable of being a metaphrand on its own, resulting in new metaphiers, with their paraphiers, and so on. (ibid., emphasis added) Upon careful reading then, J-consciousness is defined by Jaynes much more narrowly than Block insinuates. J-consciousness is not simply thinking and reasoning, hoping and wanting, but rather, those things done in a very particular – analogical constructed and narratively structured – manner, with special functional paraphrands of “internal” spatiality being paradigmatically constitutive of conscious experience. Indeed, to use Jaynes most concise definition, J-consciousness … is an operation rather than a thing, a repository, or a function. It operates by way of analogy, by way of constructing an analog space with an analog “I” that can observe that space, and move metaphorically in it. It operates on any reactivity, [consciously selects] relevant aspects, narratizes and [assimilates] them together in a metaphorical space where such meanings can be manipulated like things in space. Conscious mind is a spatial analog of the world and mental acts are analogs of bodily acts.19 (ibid., p. 65) And again, since definitions are extremely important at this stage of inquiry, J-consciousness … is an analog of what is called the real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical world. Its
19 Thomas Metzinger’s notion of a phenomenal self-model (2003, 2009) seems to have many structural similarities to Jayne’s notion of the analog “I” and the conscious mind in general. In both cases, the phenomenal self or Ego is constructed by the brain in such as way as to give humans a “first-person” perspective and means by which to initiate and plan voluntary behavior. For Metzinger, the Ego is simply the content of the phenomenal self-model, which, is the conscious model of the organism as a whole. Such a model generates an “internal world”, and, similarly to Jaynes, “Conscious experiences are full-blown mental models in the representational space opened up by the gigantic neural network in our heads” (2009, p. 23). In Jaynesian terms, the conscious mind is an analog space generated by our interaction with the physical behavioral world. Where Jaynes differs from Metzinger is in his insistence of the metaphorical and narrative structure of such phenomenal constructions. By tying the constructed self or analog “I” into our innate disposition for figurative understanding, Jaynes is able to develop a phylogenetic timeline for the development of conscious mind in terms of our species’ use and understanding of metaphorical expressions for mental phenomena. Moreover, Metzinger differs from Jaynes in accepting an internalist, sensation based account of perception, claiming, much like Kant, that phenomenal experience is merely a virtual simulation and accordingly, we are never directly in touch with the world itself.

24 reality is of the same order as mathematics. It allows us to shortcut behavioral processes and arrive at more adequate decisions. Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing or repository. And it is intimately bound up with volition and decision. (ibid., p. 55)20 Jaynes, unfortunately, only gave preliminary sketches of how truly volitional behavior was enabled in light of the shift from bicamerality to J-consciousness. However, if conscious “actions” are analogs of bodily behaviors in the world, then I propose that spotlight attention is the metaphier for the analog “I”, with everything associated with narrow, sustained attention being the paraphier for the paraphrand of the introspecting “mind’s eye” or conscious Istructure21 we are all familiar with in conscious thought. I hypothesize that the neural mappings underlying this metaphier of foveal attention are the heart of the analog “I” and its learned “executive” functions.22 Essentially, I hypothesize that there is a direct connection between the manipulation of foveal attention and the voluntary, rational control and accessibility of access consciousness. Indeed, they were likely spun out of the same experiential material. What we understood very well through bicameral control structures (quasi-voluntary behavioral schemas in terms of the initiation of enduring tasks by means of linguistically structured neural commands) becomes an analog for truly voluntary (i.e. conscious) thinking, planning, reasoning, etc. within a mental work-space or mindspace. This enables a linguistic-cognitive scaffold wherein deliberate, epistemic action is possible (Clark, 2008). Behavior is transformed as we
20 And because J-consciousness is a culturally learned event, “balanced over the suppressed vestiges of an earlier mentality, then we can see that consciousness, in part, can be culturally unlearned or arrested” (ibid., p. 393). One could give the examples of hypnosis, shamanic trance states, religious/ritualistic possession and glossolalia, poetic inspiration, “flow”, psychedelic boundary dissolutions, etc. 21 Heidegger called it the Ichheit. 22 Recall, the analog I is that which “does” the looking, moving, and exploring within the analog “mindspace” constructed in terms of the physical space we are familiar with. It is the intentional directing of conscious mind towards mental “objects”. This function is of course very handy. As Metzinger points out, the Ego “turned us into thinkers of thoughts and readers of minds, and it allowed biological evolution to explode into cultural evolution” (2009, p. 5). With such a tool, we can imagine our “selves” “doing”(analogically to physical behavior) various things in an imagined world. We can consciously take our analog “I” on various wandering paths (or be took, depending on the neural context), commanding this and doing that as if in a secret, cavernous theater filled with real and imagined conversations, alternative scenarios, and complex narrative structure. Lying awake at night with thoughts run wild is a paradigm example.

25 become capable of consciously narratizing conceptual content as if it were a malleable object in the environment. When the habit oriented cognitive unconscious is no longer sufficient for environmental coping, the analog “I” is able to consciously and deliberately operate within a mental workspace, leading to novel behaviors such deception, advanced “mind-reading” of people from cultures different from your own (encountered in trading, cataclysmic dispersion, etc.), visual-spatial sketching, long term planning,episodic memory, autobiographical selfconceptualization, folk psychological narratizing, subvocal rehearsal, etc. It was this functionality, Jaynes speculated, that provided the selection pressure for the development of Jconsciousness over the bicameral mind. For Jaynes, such epistemic actions are conscious and structured by several key features: an analog “I” capable of internally manipulating mental content, an autobiographical “analog me” imaginable by the analog “I”, a narrative structure that filters and understands the world in terms of personalized “stories” (i.e. folk psychology), and a reconstructive component wherein what we are conscious of is always a selective construction. All this is more or less “scaffolded” by the underlying cognitive substrate of pragmatic Gibsonian externalism. To illustrate narratization, let’s use Jaynes’ example. Close your eyes imagine yourself swimming. It is likely that in so doing you were not perfectly recreating in your head what-it’s-like to actually swim, but rather, you viewed your own body swimming from bird’s eye view, something that you have never experienced, but which is nevertheless easily imaginable. This is illustrative of how conscious actions are often reconstructions based on saliency. Moreover, it is in association with this internally viewable “self” that we might have been able to develop robust theories of mind for both ourselves and others, in addition to the possibility to consciously “simulate” past and future scenarios.23 And crucially, these epistemic actions operate in accordance with an analog
23 For an overview of social cognitive processes, see Lieberman, (2006).

26 mindspace structured by how we prereflectively understand the real world and our ability to act within it. It is this highly functional microcosm of mental interiority, “the pure paraphrand that we have of the world and its objects that is made to seem like a space when we introspect”, 24 that is at the heart of Jaynes’ distinction between conscious and unconscious animals. Thus, denying ancestral humans consciousness does not lead to absurd claims about early civilizations lacking conceptual content and pragmatic reason, but rather, stipulates only that such structures were not analogically filtered through linguistic metaphors of spatialized interiority and autobiographical narratization through an executive “I”. It is only on account of our species’ extreme tendency for anthropomorphic projection that we automatically assume an interiority of mindspace in our prelinguistic ancestors, nonhuman animals, and even the personified objects of everyday experience. As an aside, it is striking that Jaynes’ 1976 conception of J-consciousness seems to be very much in line with contemporary research on human cognition, particular in respect to working memory, executive function, and the posited “global workspace” of neural activity. Indeed, Baars, in describing his Global Workspace Theory, utilizes a classic spatial metaphor for first-person interiority wherein “consciousness…resembles a bright spot on the stage of immediate memory, directed there by a spotlight of attention, under executive guidance” (2003). According to a recent research in this direction, “conscious information processing…is associated with a distinct internal space, buffered from fast fluctuations in sensory inputs, where information can be shared across a broad variety of processes including evaluation, verbal report, planning and long-term memory” (Dehaene et al., 2006, emphasis added). Moreover, Baddeley’s theory of working memory (2000) is also based on metaphors of spatiality in terms of a visual-

24 Jaynes (1976, p. 420).

27 spatial sketchpad, utilized consciously by the executive “I” for novel problem solving, and an “internal” phonological loop for conscious (i.e. willful) rehearsal. In addition, executive function itself is a strikingly Jaynesian concept. Defined as “‘higher-level’ cognitive functions involved in the control and regulation of ‘lower-level’ cognitive processes and goal-directed, future-oriented behavior” (Alvarez & Emory, 2006, p. 17), executive function has been neurologically associated with voluntary inhibition and switching, sustained and selective attention, working memory, conscious planning, problem solving, and abstract thinking. Such functions are at the heart of Jaynesian consciousness. By utilizing analogical reason through metaphorical and narrative scaffolding, the operation of conscious introspection generates paraphrands of executive function in terms of interior spatiality and narratization by an analog “I” similar to the Kantian transcendental ego. We can, for example, consciously analyze a conversation in our heads over and over, imagining how the conversation might have went if only we had said something different. Such introspection is done through an autobiographical filter that narratizes in terms of an “I” directed towards of an “analog me” i.e an autobiographical self25 structured and functional in terms of various experiential metaphors (See Lakoff & Johnson, 1999). While Jaynes’ treatise was published in 1976, it is not difficult to imagine how the voluntary control structures of J-consciousness in terms of an executive “I” and a mental workspace analogically constructed from our bodily interaction with the external reality could be fleshed out in terms of contemporary neuropsychological research on externalist cognition within the embodied/embedded paradigm. I leave such work to future researchers.

25As Jaynes puts it, “The self is not in any sense the analog ‘I’ which is contentless. The self is an object of

consciousness, not consciousness itself. As such, the self is not a stable construction, but changes dramatically through history and among nations, as well as in child development, and even over the course of a day, depending on one’s excerpts and how one narratizes them” (1986c, p. 1).

28 Moreover, I have already mentioned the connection between Jaynesian theories of consciousness and Daniel Hutto’s Narratice Practice Hypothesis.

Closing the Gap: Being-in-the-world

Having distinguished between perceptual cognition and conscious thought, and determined that consciousness is not necessary for perception and habitual behavior, the internalist might still ask about the “explanatory gap” (Levine, 1983; Nagel, 1974) i.e. why the neural basis for particular instantiations of sensation feel the way they do and not, say, like some other experience or no experience at all. The immediate problem with this line of thought is that Levine’s idea of a “neural basis” assumes that a “physical story” of perception would involve, as he says, “talk about the various wave-lengths detectable by the retina, and the receptors and processors that discriminate among them” (Levine, 1983, p. 357) i.e. in terms of a Lockean distinction between primary properties and secondary qualities. If we assume, however, that a “physical story” of perception would also involve a description of the intentional orientation towards stimulus information contained in the ambient optic array specified by invariant properties of the external world according to mechanical laws, the appearance of a “Hard” explanatory gap is diminished. That is, if we assume that the mental content of perception includes stimulus information for the external world, then the hypothetical detachability of the experience of a red apple from its neural instantiation, and thus from the world itself, becomes less plausible. In other words, if the object of perception is not the retina, but rather, the public always-already-there environs external to the organism, then the “what-it’s-like” to see a red apple is not, strictly speaking, what-it’s-like to experience retinal impulses, but rather, what-it’s-

29 like to experience a red apple located within an intelligible environs.26 And if this is the case, it becomes specious to suppose that the subjective experience of a red apple could, hypothetically, be separated from the neural instantiation specified by the invariant properties of the apple (its spatial layout, texture, luminosity, reflectivity, etc.). Recall, what-it’s-like to experience the world as a human animal is essentially wrapped up in reactive perceptual behavior i.e. what has been called “online intelligence”. “A creature displays online intelligence just when it produces a suite of fluid and flexible real-time adaptive responses to incoming sensory stimuli” (Wheeler, 2007, p. 12). In contrast, conscious behavior can be said to be offline in the sense that it paradigmatically involves detachment from the sensory flow through imagination and epistemic manipulation e.g. weighing options, planning future events, reconstructing memories and conversations, etc. Accordingly, I can see no theoretical reason as to why these two interwoven phenomena could not, in principle, be explained by a very complex “physical story” that includes an account of real-time behavioral responses to stimulus information (online intelligence), and some instantiation of metacognition operating at a higher order than incoming sensory stimuli, structured through multilevel processes of analogical reason (offline intelligence). Block (Forthcoming), argues that the problem with this higher-order approach is that it simply mixes unconscious cognitive elements together and claims “That’s consciousness!”, without explaining why such a combination is conscious (given the explanatory gap). Block’s objection is motivated by cases in which someone (say, an autistic child) is phenomenally conscious without having higher-order thoughts about their phenomenal experience. In such a case, the child is experientially conscious in the sense of having a what-it’s-like, yet lacking in
26 Accordingly, the mental content for pain includes the picking up of stimulus information regarding the external environment (“Does that thing hurt or not?”) and not just “the firing of c-fibers” as Levine assumes. And moreover, the perception of heat or cold in an object entails not just the “motion of molecules”, but also, information about that object in relation to us given there is a directional flow of heat at the skin by radiation or conduction in relation to our own (stable) body temperature.

30 the Jaynesian style metacognition necessary to qualify for having J-conscious thought. However, armed with the Jaynesian distinction between cognition and consciousness, the conceptual problem is avoided in this example. We can, without difficulty, claim that the young child is Pconscious (in Block’s sense) yet J-unconscious i.e. without internalized qualitative states in terms of an analog “I” willfully accessing metaphorically structured mental content through rational deliberation and narratized control. Accordingly, Jaynesian theory avoids the problematic claim that autistic children are without phenomenal states while still retaining a robust conception of full-blown conscious phenomena that goes beyond mere sensorimotor experience.27 As we can see then, “explaining” the physical basis for the phenomenal ( i.e. sensory) experience of whatit’s-like-to-be-in-the-world is, in principle, no more complicated than a very sophisticated behavioral account of how animals process stimulus information in terms of their particular embodiment and information processing capacities.

Conclusion

This paper has attempted to establish at least two things: 1. That Ned Block is wrong to think that “Jaynes’ claim that the ancients lacked consciousness” is an “obvious absurdity” (1981, p. 82). Upon careful review, we can see that Block has misunderstood the nature of J-consciousness, and thus, misunderstood the claim of what is being constructed in Jaynes’ hypothesis that consciousness is a learned, cultural-linguistic
27 In light of the distinction between cognition and consciousness, I think Dennett (1995) goes too far when he collapses the distinction between P-consciousness and A-consciousness. While, I agree with Dennett that there is nothing philosophically “special” about P-consciousness, to dismiss the distinction altogether is to miss sight of the original phenomenological explanandum: an analog “I” narratizing in an introspective mindspace.

31 construction based on the power of metaphorical cognition and narratization through an analog “I” in a virtual mindspace. Moreover, when Block says that “Jaynes’ suggestion makes sense only as an account of the invention of the theory that people are conscious, not as an account of the invention of consciousness itself” (ibid.,p. 83), he has confused reactive cognition for introspective consciousness, and not realized that Jaynes was claiming that Jconsciousness, not P-consciousness, is a culturally learned invention made possible through metaphorical understanding and complex linguistic scaffolds structured in terms of narrative practice. The phenomenal what-it’s-like to be a preconscious bicameral mind is, roughly speaking, what-it’s-like to be a sleepwalking schizophrenic suffering from a dissolution of mindspace under hypnotic control by the hallucinated voice of a demigod through a neural mechanism of linguistically structured decision making initiated in the right temporal cortex. Clearly, Block has misunderstood Jaynes’ claims about both bicamerality and Jconsciousness. Preconscious zombies are P-conscious but are nevertheless stuck on autopilot, lacking in agency qua agency without the possibility of narratization with an analog “I” operating through the transparently functional paraphrand of an internal mindspace accessible in principle through introspection. Accordingly, a close inspection of Jaynes’ definition of J-consciousness alleviates the worry that consciousness must precede any possible conceptual structure upon which consciousness could possibly be constructed. 2. That we need to rethink the concept of an unconscious zombie. It has long been assumed by many (but not all) philosophers that an unconscious zombie could, theoretically, perfectly replicate our physical behavior while being wholly unaware that it was doing anything at all. Moreover, such a zombie would lack a what-it’s-like i.e. subjective experience. It has been the purpose of this paper to establish, on the contrary, that there is indeed a what-it’s-like to be an unconscious zombie and that, moreover, all animals from protozoa to higher mammals

32 experience it: organic behavioral reactivity, “flow”, automaticity, etc. Accordingly, there is something it is like to unconsciously react to the world, namely, what-it’s-like to act on autopilot through the dynamic operations of the cognitive unconscious. This is an experience intimately familiar to all habit oriented animals. It is suffused with an incredibly rich manifold of experiential content or “qualia”. But this is not consciousness. Consequently, the unconscious what-it’s-like to sense the world (e.g. perceiving the redness of an apple) is not explanatorily “Hard” in the sense David Chalmers argues for (1995, 1996). Under Jaynesian behaviorism, there is no mystery as to why experience goes along with behavior. Moreover, P-consciousness is simply a different phenomenon than J-consciousness (i.e. consciousness proper).28 To explain the origin of consciousness is to explain how the analog “I” began to narratize in a functional mindspace. For Jaynes, to understand the self qua self requires that we see selfhood as something fleeting rather than something always present. The constant phenomenality of what-it’s-like is not the selfhood of introspective consciousness and subsequently, selfhood must be thought in terms of the authentic possibility of selfhood, rather than its continual presence. I hope that if this paper has established anything, it is this lesson; consciousness is not necessary for perception.

28 As Jaynes often said, if you want to know what the contents of consciousness are, pick ten people randomly and ask them what they were just thinking about. The answers they give are referring to the contents of consciousness.

33

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