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Boris Sidis, Ph.D.
Simon P. Goodhart, M.D.
THE CONSCIOUS AND THE SUBCONSCIOUS
IF we turn now to the constitution of the moment consciousness, we find that each moment as it takes its place in the scale of evolution can both statically and ontogenetically be regarded as a summary, as an epitome of phylogenetic history. Each moment represents at the same time a hierarchy of many moments, but of lower types. The highest constellation has at its command lower types of psychic aggregates, and had it not been for these lower moments, the higher type would have lacked matter and activity for carrying on its own work.
The lower forms of moments, however, are subordinate to the higher type which constitutes the centre, the nucleus of the total psychic state. The other constituent moments, from the simplest to the most complex, are in the service of the highest type of moment and lie outside the central focus of the principal controlling moment consciousness. These lower forms are, however, by no means to be ignored, since they form the main sum of factors that determine indirectly the total psychic activity, they constitute the storehouse from which the central moment was its material. Without lower moments the principal controlling moment could not have received stimulations from the external environment, nor would it have been enabled to make proper motor responses. In fact, we may say that without the lower forms of moments, the moment nucleus would have lost its vitality and even its meaning. The perception of an object and the proper adjustments to it depend not so much on what is directly present in the focus of consciousness, but the wealth of accumulated material lying outside the on focus. In reading a book, for instance, the handling of it, the motor adjustments in keeping it, the perception of the letters, of the words, of the phrases, lie outside the focus of the principal interesting thought that guides the growth of the moment; and still it is this mass of perceptions that forms the matter, the food supply of the controlling moment. The inventor, in working on his particular invention, has a mass of accumulated material and experience, indispensable for the development of the invention, but which is in the background of his consciousness. Similarly the mathematician in solving his problem, which farms the focus of his consciousness, possesses a body of knowledge or a mass of material which, though it lies in the periphery of his consciousness, still forms the mainstay of his particular investigation. There is more in consciousness than is actually directly present in the focus of the moment.
While I am writing these last phrases, my consciousness is only occupied with them, but they are supported by a body of thought that lies in the background. All our perception is largely determined by the results of our previous experience which as such falls outside the central point of consciousness. Many of the perceptual illusions find their explanation in habit. An otherwise novel experience surrounds itself with familiar experiences, which disguises the novelty and transforms the percept by substituting what is otherwise habitual. This mass of familiar experiences is not present in the focus of the moment consciousness; it lies outside the Centre and is very often submerged in regard to the direct introspective scrutiny; and yet it has a powerful influence on the total activity in general and on that of the nucleus in particular. The submerged moments, though lying outside of the main focus, still exercise a great influence on the course of the momentís growth and development. The conscious controls the material supplied by the subconscious, while the subconscious by its nature, by the quantity and quality of its material, in its turn, modifies and determines the course and direction of conscious activity.
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