An evolutionary context for the cognitive unconscious

Philosophical Psychology 5 (1):33-51 (1992)
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Abstract

This paper is an attempt to put the work of the past several decades on the problems of implicit learning and unconscious cognition into an evolutionary context. Implicit learning is an inductive process whereby knowledge of a complex environment is acquired and used largely independently of awareness of either the process of acquisition or the nature of that which has been learned. Characterized this way, implicit learning theory can be viewed as an attempt to come to grips with the classic epistemological issues of knowledge acquisition, representation and use. The argument is made that the process, despite its seeming cognitive sophistication, is of considerable evolutionary antiquity and that it antedates awareness and the capacity for conscious control of mentation. Various classic heuristics from evolutionary biology are used to substantiate this claim and several specific entailments of this line of argument are outlined

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