[ 27/8/20 ]
It seems very probable that it can only ever be a matter of degree.
Most of what we experience is, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, a subconsciously generated model of reality, rather than reality itself.
Reality seems to be vastly more complex than we are computationally equipped to handle in detail. It has to be simplified.
Then there is the problem of what, in all that complexity, to pay attention to?
Evolution seems to have equipped us with many sets of heuristics that worked well enough for our ancestors to allow them all to survive in the contexts that they lived in (and how much of that was just blind chance is an open question), but might not be so well fitted to the context we find ourselves in now.
The more we become aware of the many levels of biases and heuristics that allow us to make what sense we do of ourselves and the existence around us, the more conscious we become.
And reality often demands rapid responses, so heuristics are almost always required. In an emergency we need to rely on our heuristics, and the time for conscious evaluation and retraining is when all is calm.
How and at what level(s) we make that judgement about the need for rapid response is one of the biggest issues facing humanity.
The more time we have to learn about and practice with the tools of complex math, of probability and strategy in multiple dimensions, and the more deeply we understand the complexity present in all of us, and everything around us, the more likely we are to be able to make conscious choices that are actually in our long term best interests (which on the longest term also demands that they be on the long term interests of everyone else as well).
Having been doing that for over 50 years, I am more conscious than ever that the amount I don’t know is infinitely greater than that which I do; and I seem to have developed a few useful heuristics along the way.