Cognitive Unconscious

I recently came across a lecture in which a professor explained that the conscious mind is capable of processing 40 bits (i.e. binary bits-equivalent) per second. The cognitive unconscious (a.k.a. everything else your brain is doing at any particular moment) utterly dwarfs this by several orders of magnitude at an approximation to 11,000,000 bits per second. Beyond any inevitable philosophical, definitional or generally opinionated or speculative curlicues, the notion that what is actually going on in our brains is largely inaccessible to us is a rather large kick in the crown jewels to the hubris of egoistic, self-centered political, social and psychological ideologies.

The cognitive unconscious is (among other things) where reflex, entrained reactions and biases, gut-instinct and the autonomous feedback loops and control systems of biological self-perpetuation conduct their business. I am not personally surprised by any revelation of this nature, nor of any logical or extensional consequences derived from it. That conscious functioning is not even the proverbial tip of the iceberg so much as a thin scraping of ice atop that same iceberg is a revelation at once both humbling and cathartic. It is also potentially a profoundly insightful indication of why human beings just can not seem to organise themselves in sensible, equitable and coherent or stable ways.

Emergent complexity within, between and expressed in the sum totalities of interacting and interdependent material, mental and variously self-interested living systems is clearly a statistically vast and mathematically multidimensional unified entity. I don’t think it beyond the sensible limits of imagination to conceive that all of those vast information processing systems we carry around in our heads are potentially creatively interacting in ways which generate and support cultural, social and psychological sub-texts and secondary, tertiary (etc.) plot-themes to the narratives and semantics of everyday experience, living and consensus reality.

The primary information and energy flows of culture and mind may for this reason always already be those which for various structural and logical reasons of our own biological and evolutionary history are indirectly accessible to our own relatively limited individual human consciousness and mental processing. An intimate experience of our own generally turbulent and unruly minds and our invariably poor attempts at self- and collective consensus and purposeful direction indicate a shared and deeply disorganised chaos and ineptitude. This revelation, although arguably quite accurate, generally fails to acknowledge that for unseen reasons or unknowable logical purposes, those sub-surface vectors of unconscious psychological, cognitive processing are always racing away ahead of our slow and lumbering conscious minds and that the chaos we perceive in ourselves and our world is very likely an inevitable consequence of that profoundly narrow aperture of conscious awareness through which we both perceive and seek to positively effect the world and others around us.

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