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The Conscious Self as the Manager of Cognition and Action

Lee Pierson

Presented at: London Ayn Rand Meetup ARC-UK

Date: Sep 14, 2020

New Directions in Psycho-Epistemology: The Conscious Self as the Manager of Cognition and Action

Ayn Rand defines “psycho-epistemology” as “the study of man’s cognitive processes from the aspect of the interaction between the conscious mind and the automatic functions of the subconscious.” This talk will put forward some new ideas about the nature of this interaction. Topics will include:

  • Consciousness as non-physical “management,” the “subconscious” as physical “labor.”
  • Neural processes as the proximate causes of all conscious experiences.
  • Thinking as consciously asking but subconsciously answering questions that produce new knowledge from old.
  • Volition as a knowledge-pump from sources in the perceived world and conceptual memory and thought that overrides automatic “programming.”
  • Automatic action as controlled by the brain, not by consciousness.
  • Words as “handles” for volitionally pumping knowledge into the thought process.
  • How conscious, volitional focus on key issues enables your thinking to go beyond what comes to mind automatically.
  • Why you respond to noxious stimuli before you feel the pain associated with them.
  • What happens to conscious experiences when they leave awareness. (They don’t become subconscious memories!)
  • Why emotions sometimes inhibit thinking.


Parts: 1

Handout: none