We take the existence of unconscious thought for granted. By unconscious thought I mean thought that one is unaware of thinking. The term consciousness is a troublesome word as it’s employed to illustrate both brain activity generally and self-awareness, which are not identical. Infants are conscious and have active brains, but they aren’t self-aware. They think, in a rudimentary way, but they don’t know that they’re thinking. Their thoughts aren’t noticed by a self. And since I believe that nothing comes into physical being without an observer to be aware of it, the infant’s unnoticed thoughts never manifest as memory. This is why we cannot remember being babies. The infant brain can obviously store information and build physical brain connections as it learns to babble and crawl – because the infant experiences babbling and experiences crawling. However, these types of stored information are more like muscle memory. The infant doesn’t experience a self and thus cannot create narrative memories of its experiences. However, once the self begins to emerge, a toddler begins to build “life memories” that detail experiences as they affect the self, and we as adults can remember our lives only as far back as that process began.
Now, I believe that the brain experiences wave-particle duality insofar as we can express its functions in terms of both brain waves and individual particle flow between synapses. Brain waves are used to measure levels of consciousness, whereas brain scans produce images of localized electrical activity.
Meanwhile, the Uncertainty Principle tells us that one cannot accurately know both the position and the momentum of a particle simultaneously. I suspect that this has an effect on what one can know about consciousness (insofar as consciousness is both particle and wave) simultaneously.
Here is one attempt at an Uncertainty Principle of consciousness: You are aware of thinking, therefore you know that you think (this is argued at length by Descartes). If you know you are conscious, then you have defined a Self, and you cannot know that anything which is not yourself is also conscious. The thoughts of the Other are held apart by definition. Even if you could read someone else’s mind, you couldn’t hear a thought in your own head and know beyond doubt that it originated from something non-self. By hearing a thought it becomes your own. Even if you noticed that the thoughts somehow “sounded different” than things you characteristically think, or that the thoughts contained information you weren’t aware of knowing, you could still only propose the mere possibility that the thoughts originated from another mind. The thoughts would be in your mind, thus yours.
I suspect that Cartesian Mind-Body duality is essentially the same as particle-wave duality and Cartesian doubt (not knowing anything more than “I think, therefore I am”) is essentially the same as the uncertainty principle.
I also suspect that our mental chatter never stops (whether noticed or not), and attempting to stop it is really more difficult than holding one’s breath. Contemplating mental silence is the same as thinking, so we cannot know if our brain is silent or not without thinking about it, which instantly breaks the silence (if there even was silence). It is as if one wanted to hold her breath, but couldn’t tell if she was actually holding it without breathing to check. I suspect that our unnoticed thoughts are in that sense automatic, but we can learn to be more mindful of them. When we are more actively focused on our thoughts but apparently in control of what we’re thinking, I believe we still have a line of unnoticed and uncontrolled thought running in the background.
For instance, one might think that in periods of deep philosophical contemplation, one is very aware of one’s own thoughts. But that is not the same as saying that one is aware of their stream of uncontrolled “unconscious” thought, which may continue even while actively thinking about something else. What happens if we are so aware of our uncontrolled thought that there is no unnoticed thought? When if there was no attempt to control or understand or analyze the uncontrolled thought – just to notice it? Is this when self and spirit are combined?
Incidentally, I find that when I try to notice my uncontrolled stream of thought, which appears truly random and unrelated to anything, I am on the verge of putting myself to sleep and entering a dream.
Ultimately, I suspect that insofar as thought is unnoticed, it is in waveform only and represents the Spirit world. Insofar as one is aware of one’s own thought, it becomes the work of electrons, the world of Matter. Somehow we know we have unnoticed thought even though we cannot remember it. We sense it although we really have little to no evidence of it in the physical world. Thus we sense the spirit world directly; or rather, it is our connection to the continuous self-propagation of spirit.