Living in the unconscious age

From: Phil Goetz (
Date: Wed Jan 18 2006 - 12:55:24 MST

Here's another idea that's SL2 or 3, phrased (as these things used to
be up through the 1950s) as an entry from a future textbook:

"... These calls for the application of rights even to humans ignore a
basic important fact of human psychology: They are , uniquely, the
only "intelligent" organisms with no consciousness.

"This is because of their peculiar serial form of communication. Less
intelligent organisms perceive the world in a gestalt manner that
enables conscious reflection. More intelligent organisms develop means
of communicating these gestalts to each other in a way that preserves
the topology of interrelations between perceptions.

"Humans, however, use a spoken language, which requires taking any
thought to be communicated and linearizing it. This destroys almost
all of the relationships contained in a network of ideas, which must be
painfully, and inaccurately, reconstructed by the recipient, through a
combination of inference and of back-pointers embedded in the
communication. Although complex ideas could be linearized, few humans
are capable of reconstructing the original idea structure accurately.
More importantly, humans adapted even their inner mental life to this
linear mode of thought. Many believed that thinking could be done only
in linear terms. The mental life of a socialized human, as far as we
can tell, perceives and processes everything in this linear fashion
that cannot be said to be conscious.

"Nothing can be truly understood or even perceived by such a mind.
Inconsistencies between different parts of a linearized concept are
difficult to detect. The fact that humans alone are not truly
conscious explains why humans alone, of all species, are periodically
overtaken by collective madness, such as the witch hunts and religious
wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, or the nationalist and
communist movements of the 20th century."

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