Conscious Will

James Piat piat1 at
Tue Apr 30 08:59:18 EDT 2002

Dear Ken,

Thanks for these further comments.

You wrote:

>>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.

But Ken it is you who is supposing that folks who argue against free will are engaged in the willful act of presenting an argument for the non-existence of will.  One could also argue that even as one speaks his words and thoughts  are not the product of his free will but are determined by circumstances external to his illusory sense of personal agency. 

>>  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 you've got so many ideas mixed together and packed into the paragraph above I've no good sense of how to respond.  I think meaning and representation are triadic in the Peircean sense, but I'm not sure what this says about free will, consciousness or the motives and logical talents of folks like Dennett and Wegner (or anyone esle for that matter;)  I will say that I don't think a scientific approach to the study of man is an assault on his humanity --more likely it's an indirect assualt on man's religious faith. 

But it is not my desire to pit science against faith as I think there is room  for both.  I am very interested in the Percy-Peirce notion of triadic meaning  and am always eager to learn new ways in which it can help me to understand the mystery of consciousness and will.  

So I am with you in spirit if not in understanding and I thank you again for the comments.



Ken Armstrong --
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