Kant called it a Critique of Pure Reason. Julian Jaynes describes it as “What consciousness is not.” Joseph Campbell says it’s a pedagogical stunt played by our ego. Consider Campbell’s diagram.
The sphere represents our complete self and the circle in the center represents our true center of consciousness. The horizontal line, however, divides the self into it’s self-aware and unaware aspects. Notice the size of the subconscious aspect of the self. Campbell, like Jaynes, claims that what we think to be our conscious self, is not.
Above the horizontal line is the ego, which I represented as a square: that aspect of our consciousness that we identify as our center. But, you see, it’s very much off center. We think that this is what’s running the show, but it isn’t. – J.Campbell
Our mentality gets along just fine without consciousness. According to Jaynes, our sensations and perceptions also arise independently of consciousness. Kant had a great one for this. He called it the Synthetic Unity of Apperception. The idea is that much of what one perceives happens without direct perception. Instead, sensations and perceptions are synthesized by a unification process that fills in the gaps. Think of the back lot at Universal Studios. If you were standing in front of the house from Psycho or from Leave It To Beaver, you would synthesize a unification of the completeness of the house. You would sense that the house had a backdoor and even a back wall, but you would be wrong. Your perception is an illusion synthesized by your intuitions (according to Kant). Jaynes describes the same idea as “location constancy without introspection.”
I’m reminded of an old riddle: How do you make the universe laugh? Ans: Come up with a plan. Perhaps Jaynes’s idea of “structions” would work more effectively than the standard process of making a plan. Structions, as Jaynes describes them, seem similar to the idea of Intentions; it’s more of a general direction than a specific action. Jaynes’s argues that when we are in the flow, we are not following a plan, but rather, we are allowing ourselves to spontaneously manifest a specific instance of something from within the context of the “structions.” According to Jaynes, pure rule-governed behavior is an Illusion, particularly when we are acting from within a state of flow and engagement.