To a large extent consciousness has been dethroned from the central role it used to occupy in the study of our mental lives. Freud persuaded us that there is more going on mentally than we are consciously aware of, and that sometimes others can know more about what we are thinking and feeling than we do. Now we are also learning more and more from neuroscience and neurobiology about how much of what we do is the result of unconscious processes and mechanisms. And we are discovering that there are different levels of consciousness, different kinds of awareness, and that much of our thinking and decision-making can go on without it. So a more pressing question might be, what is consciousness for? Is it just a mere mental accompaniment to what is going to happen anyway? In that case it may be our sense of self and self-control that is most in need of revision.
by Barry Smith