chapter  3
Conscious and unconscious action
Pages 16

This natural-seeming division covers at least two different distinctions. First there is the idea that the mind is divided into parts. This can be traced back as far as early Hindu texts or ancient Egyptian beliefs about sleep and dreams, and to Plato who claimed that the soul is divided into three parts: reason, spirit and appetite, all with their own goals and abilities (Frankish and Evans, 2009). The idea appears again in eighteenth-century Western philosophy and is common in literature, for example in Shakespeare and Coleridge. Above all it was central in early twentieth-century theories of psychoanalysis. However, the idea of something called a ‘mind’ that exists apart from brain function, and that could have two or more distinct parts, seems less plausible the more we learn about how the brain works.