NEW RESEARCH: In defence of unconscious mentality

Boag, S. (2015). In defence of unconscious mentality. In S. Boag, L. A. W. Brakel, & V. Talvitie (Eds.), Psychoanalysis and Philosophy of Mind (pp. 239-265). London: Karnac.

Download Boag 2015 Unconscious mentality


This chapter is a response to recent attacks upon the possibility of unconscious mentality and the use of Brentano’s claim that mental acts are necessarily conscious due to Intentionality. The chapter demonstrates that Brentano’s stance against unconscious mentality is an empirical claim and not a logical one. Against the claim that unconscious processes are simply non-cognitive neural processes, this chapter demonstrates that the conclusion that unconscious processes are simply neural processes follows from failing to distinguish between knowing and knowing that one knows. Specifically, the problem follows from reinstating the Cartesian fallacy which confuses consciousness of something with self-consciousness of it. This chapter discusses unconscious processes in terms of psychological relations involving brain processes but which are not reducible to them. Whether any event or process is conscious is unconscious is simply to describe certain relationships and not qualities of mental processes. The implications for the dynamic unconscious, as well as criticisms of the systemic view of unconscious mentality, are further discussed

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