BOOK REVIEW: Arthur S. Reber, Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge, An Essay

Science and the "Cognitive Unconscious"

It's very surprising that there is a scientific dispute as to whether the "cognitive unconscious" even exists, and that many scientists are preoccupied with trying to prove experimentally that it does exist.

About this controversy, see Arthur S. Reber,"Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge, An Essay on the Cognitive Unconscious," (188 pages), Oxford University Press (Clarendon Press), 1993.

The "cognitive unconscious" is not even unconscious. Perhaps it is thought to be unconscious because it doesn't come ready-equipped with words to describe its contents.

The truth is that the "cognitive unconscious" is the main component of "consciousness". We are always aware of this tacit body of knowledge and we spend most of our time trying to communicate what we 'see' in it. The very purpose of words is just to try to communicate the contents of the "cognitive unconscious". We ourselves try, often erroneously, to communicate this with words, and we have at our fingertips words from many thoughtful people of many past generations' attempts to describe their own cognitive unconsciousness.

In fact, we aren't really in the position of perceiving the "outside world" at all. The "cognitive unconscious" perceives the outside world. It has "a mind of its own". What we ourselves are conscious of is merely the "cognitive unconscious". We "see" the outside world through the prism of the "cognitive unconscious."

Arthur Reber and other advocates of the "cognitive unconscious" believe that this "unconscious" builds up its abstract knowledge completely unbeknownst to us. It is true that this building-up process is indeed unconscious and not subject to our control.

But we can induce it to build up. How? This is what Shh Tract is about.

Once we realize that what we are conscious of is not the "outside world" but only the (supposedly unconscious)"cognitive unconscious" (I call it the Conceptual Structure), we can clearly see that all we can do to help with our "perception of the outside world" is to get out of the way: to not get between the "cognitive unconscious" and the "outside world". We must develop the skill of just allowing the "cognitive unconscious" to do its job.

"Implicit learning" (learning by the "cognitive unconscious" can only take place when both implicit and explicit knowledge ("knowledge" in words) is suppressed and the "cognitive unconscious" can "see the outside world" completely anew, with "new eyes". The fact that we have the ability to momentarily suppress all our existing knowledge is what leads me to surmise that the "cognitive unconscious" is equipped with its own neural learning tract: "Shh Tract".

But what to make of a scientific dispute over the very existence of the Conceptual Structure?!!