Every "gut feeling" or "intuition" experienced by a person is the result of the unconscious mind integrating stored memories and other information. Most of our choices, actions and behavior are the result of this automatic unconscious process. This allows our conscious mind to deal with new problems and previously unrecognized challenges. As we get older we gain a larger repertoire of automatic behavioral patterns requiring no conscious effort. Even very complex behavior patterns once learned become automatic, such as playing a complicated piano arrangement while carrying on a conversation with another person.
Every new idea or concept that we generate is the result of the unconscious mind in action as it integrates stored information and memories, the great majority of which are held secret from our consciousness. Our conscious mind can usually generate a logical rational reason for justifying whatever thoughts and behaviors the unconscious mind produces. The conscious mind can also override the unconscious mind, so that any behavior is ultimately under control of our consciousness thus allowing free agency to operate. One difference between man and higher primates is the greater abundance of behavior ultimately under control of human consciousness. The chimpanzee to a certain extent also appears to have the capacity to make conscious choices, but not to the same degree as humankind.
(7) Consciousness, as well as unconsciousness, is continuing to evolve to higher states of increasing complexity as it relates to material existence.
Barbara Brown has speculated that the abilities of the unconscious mind have evolved over time and in the various animal species.31...They didn't just suddenly appear in humans. All of the physical mechanisms of survival and adaptation, including behavior patterns, cellular repair, and operation of the immune system have evolved and are continuously evolving as part of the unconscious. Most of the ongoing physical mechanisms, which are continuously functioning within the body, never reach our level of awareness. If they did, it would produce complete mental chaos.
In similar fashion, J.Z. Young has stated that if the human brain and behavior have evolved slowly over a prolonged period of time, then it seems likely that those features that seem to separate humans from animals have also been acquired gradually. It is most unlikely that human beings suddenly began to have consciousness without other animals having had incremental amounts before our evolutional appearance.32...The elevation of consciousness to its present level, as seen in humankind, required certain prerequisites, not the least of which include the power to make symbolic representation through language as well as the acquisition of vision.33
It was indicated in a prior chapter that there is evidence human consciousness underwent an increase in degree during the second millennium B.C., as described by the psychologist Julian Jaynes of Princeton University. In opposition to Jaynes' conclusion that man's consciousness was basically non-existent prior to that time, there can be no question but that human consciousness existed long before 2000 B.C. Nevertheless, it would seem reasonable that he has at least identified a time in history when human consciousness did appear to increase.
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