Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Daniel M. Wegner: The Illusion of Conscious Will

My review appeared in Human Nature Review 2003 Volume 3: 360-362 ( 5 August ). Read it at: http://human-nature.com/nibbs/03/wegner.html

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems obvious to note that notions regarding consciousness have a bearing on questions of agency. For a person who argues for a purely physical understanding of the world Wegner’s discussion is strong evidence for a determinist understanding of experience. If our consciousness is seen as being illusory then it is no great step to then assert that a “will” which is an integral part of that consciousness is also illusory. You note in your review:

‘Although “conscious will” winds up being rather disconnected from the causal processes that drive human action, Wegner still admits that it does make sense to talk about people doing things and even being responsible for their acts.’

I find it difficult to understand how it is that the two notions can be rectified. In what way can it be intelligibly argued that the experience of choosing to act being an illusion, is somehow compatible with that being which is deluded regarding their agency (in not only some particular act but in all possible actions) still being responsible for their actions?

This is more than a little puzzling.

Patrick R.