Illusion of Conscious Will

ISBN-10: 0262731622

ISBN-13: 9780262731621

Edition: 2002

Authors: Daniel M. Wegner

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Do we consciously cause our actions or do they happen to us? Like action, Wegner argues, the feeling of conscious will is created by the mind and brain. He sees conscious will as an illusion which serves as a guide to understanding ourselves and to developing a sense of responsibility and morality.
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Book details

List price: $27.95
Copyright year: 2002
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 8/11/2003
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 440
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.562
Language: English

The Illusion
It usually seems that we consciously will our voluntary actions, but this is an illusion.
Brain and Body
Conscious will arises from processes that are psychologically and anatomically distinct from the processes whereby mind creates action.
The Experience of Will
The experience of conscious will arises when we infer that our conscious intention has caused our voluntary action, although both intention and action are themselves caused by mental processes that do not feel willed.
An Analysis of Automatism
The experience of will can be reduced to very low levels under certain conditions, even for actions that are voluntary, purposive, and complex-and what remains is automatism.
Protecting the Illusion
The illusion of will is so compelling that it can prompt the belief that acts were intended when they could not have been. It is as though people aspire to be ideal agents who know all their actions in advance.
Action Projection
The authorship of one's own action can be lost, projected away from self to other people or groups or even animals.
Virtual Agency
When people project action to imaginary agents, they create virtual agents, apparent sources of their own action. This process underlies spirit possession and dissociative identity disorder as well as the formation of the agent self.
Hypnosis and Will
In hypnosis the person experiences a loss of conscious will. This loss accompanies an apparent transfer of control to someone else, along with the creation of some exceptional forms of control over the self.
The Mind's Compass
Although the experience of conscious will is not evidence of mental causation, it does signal personal authorship of action to the individual and so influences both the sense of achievement and the acceptance of moral responsibility.
Author Index
Subject Index
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