The unconscious

A Biological Basis for the Unconscious? Surely not?

Ten days ago or thereabouts, I saw a piece on Big Think about the unconscious.  The title of the piece was as the sub-heading: A Biological Basis for the Unconscious?  I was intrigued, to say the least, and wanted to write about that on Learning from Dogs.

The article started thus:

What’s the Big Idea?

Eric Richard Kandel

Today, the question of how people make decisions is an animated and essential one, capturing the attention of everyone from neuroscientists to lawyers to artists. In 1956, there was one person in all of New York known for his work on the brain: Harry Grundfest. An aspiring psychiatrist who was born in Austria in the 1930’s, Eric Kandel took an elective in brain science during medical school and found himself studying alongside Grudfest at Columbia University.

“What is it you want to study?” Grundfest asked Kandel. “I want to know where the id, the ego, and the super-ego are located in the brain,” Kandel replied. Grundfest looked at him as if he was crazy. “I haven’t got the foggiest notion whether these constructs exist,” he said. “But the way to approach the brain is to study it one cell at a time. Why don’t you study how the cells work?”

Now it would be improper to republish the whole article, not having permission to so do, and I thoroughly recommend you going to the article here and reading it completely from the Big Think website.

But there are a number of interesting videos on YouTube and the one I have selected is a great example of Kandel’s power of mind.  As the short description of the video reveals, “A Conversation With Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, Who Continues to Look Forward at 80.”

10 thoughts on “The unconscious

  1. Hi Paul, I think you are thinking too much about submersible groundwater borehole pumps; hence href=””>Grundfos instead of Grundfest in paragraph 3…?

    I agree that this is an intriguing subject and follows on nicely from the BBC’s Horizon programme that you blogged about on 19 March 2012.


  2. This is a very interesting Interview, I hadnt heard of this gentleman before… But it goes to show that Consciousness premiates ALL life.. from the Snail, to worm to human, And thats why I still keep plugging away and Walking in the Positive Light.. for that switch he talks about can very easily flip Paul, and we are getting very close to that point!…
    Sending some Very Bright Thoughts to you and Jean~ Sue


  3. Paul,
    A most fascinating subject in learning how the components of mind and brain can direct our behavior. As always, absorbing something new every day on your blog thrills me; thank you!


  4. I came across Kandel’s work an eternity ago. it’s good to see him so famous now, it means his ideas have been accepted.

    1) Animals have had the unconscious for half a billion years. As the most complex thing, it is only natural that the conscious mind comes last. Both evolutionary speaking, and within individual minds.

    2) Far from making matters less wonderful, scientific explanations, by making the world more complex, often in completely unexpected ways, make them even more magical.


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