I am the glorious Sun,
the ocean laden with pearls.
Within my heart is the grandeur of heaven,
Outside, the lowly earth.
I travel in this world like a bee in a jar.
But don't listen to my woeful buzzing
My house is filled with honey!
Rumi, The Dome of the Inner Sky
Better Than Conscious
New Scientist magazine has a happily intriguing article about a recent conference session in Germany titled The subconscious mind, your unsung hero. While working to replicate via machine how people make smart decisions, the extent to which even the most analytically oriented minds rely upon induction was a revelation. In the scientific method, the power of intuition and imagery is so discounted it amounts to persecution. It's also denialistic claptrap.
We have three brains in our sapient heads at least. The subconscious mind should be called the First Brain because it is automatic, always "on," ever chewing on the experiences, the myths, and, I suspect, often reaches back to the touchstones of genetic memories which may underpin and define human cognition. It goes in dream where reason is too unwieldy to lumber, too clumsy and fearful to tread. Like a bee in a jar flying between and across zeros and ones to carry pollen, the First Mind finds eternal beauties, weaves breath-taking insights, and comes up with honey-combed answers.
Einstein, for example, and many (if not most) great scientists were led to their discoveries by images which sprang whole from the subconscious. Einstein did not imagine the universe in a theoretical sense, it was rather something he perceived deep in his fibres and was always "back-processing" as a little boy. He didn't hit upon the theory of relativity as a logical deduction; it came to him as an irrational induction (or perhaps a process better called mental morphogenesis) whilst he was gazing up at the sun through half-lidded eyes, lying on a grassy hillside one sunny afternoon in Switzerland.
The phenomenon of inductive insight is probably very common, and hopefully it's something we all share from time to time. Of course, what set Einstein and others apart was superior ability to translate their inductions into rational, sequential codes, marrying their First Brains off to their Second Brains and creating offspring both brilliant and facile.
From the article:
The more I listened to what the assembled scientists had to say and talked to them about their work, the more it seemed that our higher consciousness alone is not what sets us apart from other animals. In fact, far from playing second fiddle to the conscious mind, subconscious thought processes may play a crucial role in many of the mental facilities we prize as uniquely human, including creativity, memory, learning and language.New Scientist doesn't allow access without subscription or purchase, so I'll look around for a free online version.