The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Microgenesis

"Microgenesis" is an extreme version of this view.

The idea, originally advanced by the US psychologist Jason Brown, is that mental process recapitulates evolutionary process.

Microgenesis assumes that the structure of perceptions, concepts and actions (and mental states in general) is not based on representations but on processing stages that last over a micro-time, propagate "bottom-up", and are not conscious.  A representation is but a section of a processing continuum. Mind is not the final representation, it is the very series of processing stages.  Earlier processing stages remain part of the final stage just like a child's early stages of development persist as subconscious themes in the adult's cognitive life.

Microgenesis means that at every point in time the brain revisits the very steps that made it evolve from a simple stimulus-response mechanism to a complex control system. Every single line of reasoning goes through all the layers, starting with the primitive emotional reactions that are common to many animals and ending with the sophisticated logical processing that is unique to humans.

Microgenesis is the equivalent for micro-times of ontogenesis (growth of the individual) and phylogenesis (evolution of species). They are the expression of the same general process over different time scales. Microgenesis is sort of instantaneous evolution. 

The theory implies that symptoms of brain damage represent normal stages in the cognitive life at microscopic level. Therefore they can be used to reconstruct cognitive life. For example, Brown used this technique to reconstruct the way language is produced and understood.

 


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