Conscious Will

Ken Armstrong armstron at
Fri Apr 26 10:16:30 EDT 2002

It being so quiet on the list, I thought this Percy-like item might not be 
inappropriate. There is a book out now, The Illusion of Conscious Will, 
which is not about a vanishing Percy relation, but might be just the kind 
of thing WP would have enjoyed skewering. The following is excerpted from 
the review on

"Do we consciously cause our actions, or do they happen to us? 
Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, theologians, and lawyers have 
long debated the existence of free will versus determinism. In this book 
Daniel Wegner offers a novel
understanding of the issue. Like actions, he argues, the feeling of 
conscious will is created by the mind and brain. Yet if psychological and 
neural mechanisms are responsible for all human behavior, how could we have 
conscious will? The
feeling of conscious will, Wegner shows, helps us to appreciate and 
remember our authorship of the things our minds and bodies do. Yes, we feel 
that we consciously will our actions, Wegner says, but at the same time, 
our actions happen to
us. Although conscious will is an illusion, it serves as a guide to 
understanding ourselves and to developing a sense of responsibility and 
morality. "

Well. One would think the reviewer would feel some obligation, conscious 
will being an illusion and all, to explain how he thinks or how the author 
thinks this book came into being?  If ever a theory displayed all the 
characteristics WP delineates in The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind, 
this must be it. Imagine the pathos of "developing a sense of 
responsibility and morality" with no capacity for will.

TGIF and cheers to all,
Ken Armstrong
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