The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious
Marshalling fresh insights from neuroscience, cognitive science, cognitive biology, and literature, Hayles expands our understanding of cognition and demonstrates that it involves more than consciousness alone. Cognition, as Hayles defines it, is applicable not only to nonconscious processes in humans but to all forms of life, including unicellular organisms and plants. Startlingly, she also shows that cognition operates in the sophisticated information-processing abilities of technical systems: when humans and cognitive technical systems interact, they form “cognitive assemblages”—as found in urban traffic control, drones, and the trading algorithms of finance capital, for instance—and these assemblages are transforming life on earth. The result is what Hayles calls a “planetary cognitive ecology,” which includes both human and technical actors and which poses urgent questions to humanists and social scientists alike.
At a time when scientific and technological advances are bringing far-reaching aspects of cognition into the public eye, Unthought reflects deeply on our contemporary situation and moves us toward a more sustainable and flourishing environment for all beings.
Prologue: Transforming How We See the World
Part 1. The Cognitive Nonconscious and the Costs of Consciousness
1 Nonconscious Cognitions: Humans and Others
2 Interplays between Nonconscious Cognition and Consciousness
3 The Cognitive Nonconscious and the New Materialisms
4 The Costs of Consciousness: Tom McCarthy’s Remainder and Peter Watts’s Blindsight
Part 2. Cognitive Assemblages
5 Cognitive Assemblages: Technical Agency and Human Interactions
6 Temporality and Cognitive Assemblages: Finance Capital, Derivatives, and High-Frequency Trading
7 Intuition, Cognitive Assemblages, and Politico-Historico Affects: Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist
8 The Utopian Potential of Cognitive Assemblages