fredag 17 februari 2012

The Illusion of Conscious Intention/Evans III

Jag avslutade det förra Evans inlägget med att fråga om vi alls har någon fri vilja. Här kommer fortsättningen på de tankegångarna.
We think we do things because we want to do them. This is not true. The experience of willing is a consequence of our intentional actions and not a cause. The contrary view is compelling but a false belief created by our brains. The feeling that we caused an action by some internal mental force, by willing it,  is an illusion. The 'tennis player' example I described earlier is an example of this.

To understand why we believe in free will, consider first a simpler illusion: that of perceived causes. For example take the old ‘bat and ball’ games that occurred in the first computers. The bat consisted of short vertical lines in each end of the screen, which could be moved up and down. The ball moved across the screen and could be intercepted by a bat, which would reflect it back into play. Of course, the ball was just pixels moving on a screen, the ball wasn´t actually moving. Nor could the bats possibly strike the ball and influence its movement. But because the ball deflects immediately after impact with the ‘bat’ it is perceived as being a causal event.

An illusion of conscious will is produced in the same way. When the brain generates ‘intentional’ actions these (normally) result in conscious thought of intention at the same time. The tendency to see the world in terms of causal relations appears to be ‘hard-wired’ into the brain. The repeated co-occurrence of intentions and actions is sufficient to generate a belief of a causal link, such that it appears that our conscious thoughts caused an action. But in reality, they did not.
 [Humans understand the world in terms of causality, we seek for causes and effects everywhere. So why would we not seek for causality in our own 'thoughts'?]

Evans does not say that the reflective mind [the dual mind theory divides the mind into an intuitive mind and the reflective mind] don´t perform intentional acts, only that there is not a conscious person in charge of our behavior, nor that the conscious beliefs we form and hold about ourselves and our actions are necessarily correct. The evidence suggests instead that the reflective mind posts a feeling of willing into phenomenal consciousness as a result of carrying out an intentional act, which is often but not necessarily an indication of the actual intention.
So, who is in control if not the conscious person? The answer is more a what than a who. First, everything we do is somehow controlled by the brain. Second, the conscious person itself must be a construction of the brain, what else could it be? Consciousness is just an internal narrative but this 'story of our lives' as told by the reflective mind does not need to represent the actual way in which our brain allocates resources and makes decisions. Evidence suggests that the story is substantially fictitious.
Så hur var det med den fira viljan? Evans sammanfattar: “Intentional, voluntary actions originate in the brain some time before any conscious experience of intention is registered. You can make an argument for free will, if you want, but only if it is preconscious.”

Fortsättning följer.

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