Conscious Will

Ken Armstrong armstron at
Tue Apr 30 07:48:45 EDT 2002

At 01:48 PM 04/29/2002 -0400, you wrote:

> >>Well, I suppose that the author might argue something along those 
> lines.  But supposing the author said the book came about as a result of 
> many discussions.  Does this mean that free will was necessarily 
> involved,  that the process was fully conscious or that consciousness was 
> necessary for the book to have been produced.  Granted I think it is 
> unlikely that the author would argue that consciousness did not even 
> accompany the process by which the book developed but as you know 
> correlation does not necessarily imply cause.  (Moreover there is some 
> experimental evidence that consciousness occurs after one makes a 
> choice  --not concurrently or before.)


  Granted correspondence does not imply cause (thinking it did, M. McLuhan 
would say, was why NASA's focus was on overcoming the power of 
gravitational force rather understanding levity), let's take our loosely 
used terms as precisely as we can. The question is not just whether 
consciousness is involved in the book's coming into being, but conscious 
will. Did the author decide to write a book? Or is will an illusion? I 
submit to you that the willful act of seriously presenting an argument for 
the non-existence of will is the plague of dyadic thinking, right down to 
the end of excluding the legitimacy of triadic thinking. it would be funny 
if it weren't happening.

   Josiah Royce created a schematic for cognition (perhaps hoisted from 
Peirce?). On a line put perception, conception, and interpretation. To 
steal my lit. theory professor's example: are the stars out tonight? That 
question calls for perception. Why is it that when I turn the key in the 
ignition, my car won't start? That calls for conception. Why is it that 
when I move my lips and make faces at an interlocutor, I think I am 
communicating? That calls for interpretation. We live in a percept-concept 
oriented society, where the drive, as exhibited in Wegner, is to subdue all 
phenomenon to the percept-concept model. This is the world that WP is 
consciously reacting against in much of his writing, esp. e.g. The San 
Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind. It is, as someone else pointed out, the 
dualist world where one side is always trying to subdue the other, and in 
this time of the heyday of science, the humanity of the person is the 
constant target of people like Wegner, Dennet,  and all the lords and 
ladies of dyadic thinking whom logic fails when they are asked to reflect 
on their own actions. Ironically, to the degree that Wegner is unconscious 
of this situation, he lacks the "conscious will" to address the situation 
that he thinks he's addressing. This does not prove him correct.

Ken Armstrong
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