The Illusion of Conscious Will

Front Cover
MIT Press, 2002 - Philosophy - 405 pages
30 Reviews

Do we consciously cause our actions, or do they happen to us? Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, theologians, and lawyers have long debated the existence of free will versus determinism. In this book Daniel Wegner offers a novel understanding of the issue. Like actions, he argues, the feeling of conscious will is created by the mind and brain. Yet if psychological and neural mechanisms are responsible for all human behavior, how could we have conscious will? The feeling of conscious will, Wegner shows, helps us to appreciate and remember our authorship of the things our minds and bodies do. Yes, we feel that we consciously will our actions, Wegner says, but at the same time, our actions happen to us. Although conscious will is an illusion, it serves as a guide to understanding ourselves and to developing a sense of responsibility and morality.

Approaching conscious will as a topic of psychological study, Wegner examines the issue from a variety of angles. He looks at illusions of the will -- those cases where people feel that they are willing an act that they are not doing or, conversely, are not willing an act that they in fact are doing. He explores conscious will in hypnosis, Ouija board spelling, automatic writing, and facilitated communication, as well as in such phenomena as spirit possession, dissociative identity disorder, and trance channeling. The result is a book that sidesteps endless debates to focus, more fruitfully, on the impact on our lives of the illusion of conscious will.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
14
4 stars
11
3 stars
5
2 stars
0
1 star
0

Review: The Illusion of Conscious Will

User Review  - Jon Seymour - Goodreads

This was an excellent book that argues the case that consciousness is a story made up by the subconscious self in order to rationalise decisions already made by the subconscious self. Read full review

Review: The Illusion of Conscious Will

User Review  - Fulvia - Goodreads

This quote says it all : ”Usually we assume that how things seem is how they are. We experience willing a walk in the park, winding a clock, or smiling at someone,and the feeling keeps our notion of ... Read full review

Contents

II
1
III
29
IV
63
V
99
VI
145
VII
187
VIII
221
IX
271
X
317
XI
343
XII
387
XIII
399
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 348 - The Principles of Mental Physiology. With their Applications to the Training and Discipline of the Mind, and the Study of its Morbid Conditions.

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2002)

Daniel M. Wegner is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.

Bibliographic information