Subliminal – The New Subconscious

Much more like a modern variation of the Unconscious, the ‘New Subconscious’ is different yet has similar grounds as that of the version of the Kantian unconscious in the philosophy of mind or Freudian repressive unconscious. Similar ground being¬†the heavy involvement of our subconscious mind on our behaviors or actions.

It also reminds me of one of Nietzsche’s theatrical metaphors,¬†“The curtain falls, and the man rediscovers himself like a child playing with worlds, like a child awakening at dawn and laughing wiping his awful dreams from his brow”. Here ‘awful dreams’ are used by Nietzsche to imply that we do not so much live life as getting lived by it, that we do not act consciously, thus everything originates in the “unconscious action”.

But Leonard Mlodinow, the theoretical physicist’s concept of new unconscious reminds me a lot of Daniel Kahneman’s system 2 form of thinking, just with more new scientific and experimental backing. Kahneman would probably be always connected to this sphere of psychological and neurological research, especially when it comes to Heuristics and Systems of thinking.

Mlodinow starts by asserting that the new unconscious facilitates many processes in action or behavior due to the structure of our brain which unlike the Freudian view are healthy and normal. While Neuroscience claims that it is the brainstem that controls the unconscious functions like respiration, digestion, and pulse, which Mlodinow claims can be witnessed through intelligent modern technology like MRI with blood flow and 3D precision.

Our behavior can be willful, habitual and automatic and it is often the automatic, especially the subliminal automatic that amuses a human of their behavior. It seems to be carefully derived from our senses, our capability of reading body language, our ability to recognize intentions from voices and most importantly memory. It also gives an in-depth insight into procedural subconscious memory.

The cover of the book itself explains a lot about our subconscious mind and desire of aesthetics as derived from our senses. Overall, a remarkable addition to the field of neuropsychology from the mind of a physicist and probably the most precise modern explanation of the subconscious mind.