Friday, July 13, 2012

consciousness and intelligence...

I've been reading Julian Jaynes book, The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, and it offers insight into why intelligence expressed through the hands is not considered to be intelligent at the same level as those things that do not require practice and skill... they tend to become automatic and unconscious and must be in order to be expressed with any significant degree of apparent ease and expertise. The following is from Dr. Jaynes:
Examples of how little we are conscious of our everyday behavior can be multiplied almost anywhere we look. Playing the piano is a really extraordinary example. Here a complex array of various tasks is accomplished all at once with scarcely any consciousness of them whatever: two different lines of hieroglyphics to be read at once, the right hand guided to one and the left to the other; ten fingers assigned to various tasks, the fingering solving various motor problems without any awareness, and the mind interpreting sharps and flats and naturals into black and white keys, obeying the timing of the whole or quarter or sixteenth notes and rests and trills, one hand perhaps in three beats to a measure while the other plays four, while the feet are softening or slurring or holding various other notes. And all this time the performer, the conscious performer, is in a seventh heaven of artistic rapture at the results of all this tremendous business, or perchance lost in contemplation of the individual who turns the leaves of the music book, justly persuaded he is showing his very soul! Of course consciousness usually has some role in the learning of such complex activities, but not necessarily in their performance, and that is the point I am trying to make here.

Consciousness is often not only unnecessary; it can be undesirable. Our pianist suddenly conscious of his fingers during a serious set of arpeggios would have to stop playing.
So a natural assumption made by most, particularly by those primarily engaged in activities where hand skills are not required is that the expression of skilled hands is a mindless activity. But even things so well practiced and rehearsed that they may be performed unconsciously are valid expressions of human intelligence in that they represent investments made by human consciousness.

Make, fix and create...

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