I’ve started to think that the customary way we divide up the mind into the conscious, the unconscious, and the preconscious is too crude and unrevealing. The connection between, say, a perception and an immediate memory of it is far too close to be captured by these categories. Isn’t it the same thing that exists in memory and exists in perception? Thus I want to introduce the idea of the paraconscious–that which exists in parallel with consciousness but isn’t present to consciousness. The question is whether this notion makes sense.

2 replies
  1. Rick Padua
    Rick Padua says:

    Is your concept of the paraconscious — no examples were offered — anything like perhaps this?

    “A new concept, the paraconscious, is presented as the third complementary member of the conscious/unconscious paradigm. A form of cognition dating from early intrauterine existence to sometime in the first year of life, the nature of the paraconscious is determined by the incompleteness of developing cognitive structures, giving rise to a form of knowing that does not allow for the generation of voluntarily retrievable mental representations. The paraconscious provides a conceptual framework for the understanding of “conflict-free” psychic development, thereby linking such apparently disparate phenomena as Stoller’s core gender identity and primary transsexualism, Bruch’s primary anorexia nervosa, night terrors, and ubiquitous convictions such as the belief in telepathy and the survival of death by human consciousness. It has profound implications for the treatment (or nontreatment in the case of primary male transsexualism) of significant psychiatric syndromes and raises crucial questions about the nature of learning during the earliest moments of our cognitive existence, about the nonlinguistic transmission of information and about the origin of certain widely held beliefs.”

    • Colin McGinn
      Colin McGinn says:

      I had no idea anyone had coined the term before. My idea applies primarily to ordinary memory, though it can be applied to phenomena “near” consciousness but not quite there.


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