Friday, January 25, 2013

Mind Time 5: Free Will 2

The second, and the final, set of quotes from ``Chapter 4: Intention to Act: Do We Have Free Will'' of the book, ``Mind Time,'' by Benjamin Libet.

... How can we explain our feeling or experience that we initiated an act? If the cerebral process that initiates a freely voluntary act is an unconscious one, the feeling of consciously initiating the process becomes paradoxical. We know that we do become aware of the urge (or wish) to act before the actual motor act. That could give rise to the feeling that we had consciously initiated the process. However, the feeling of having initiated the voluntary cannot be valid; we are not aware that the process is actually initiated unconsciously.
On the other hand, it is possible the conscious will, when it appears acts as a trigger to enable the unconsciously prepared initiative to proceed further to production of the act. In such a case, the conscious feeling of initiating or producing the voluntary act would reflect reality; it would then not be an illusion.
What we are sure of is the ability if the conscious will to block or veto the volitional process and prevent the appearance of any motor act. ...

We should, at this point, consider the possibility that the conscious veto itself may have its origin in preceding unconscious processes, just as is the case in the development and appearance of the conscious will. If the veto itself were to be initiated and developed unconsciously, the choice to veto would then become an unconscious choice of which we become conscious, rather than a consciously causal event. ...---pp. 144-145, Mind Time

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