Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free will and the unconscious

Here is research claiming that we have an unconscious mind, and no free will.
Scientific American Mind says:
Sigmund Freud popularized the idea of the unconscious, a sector of the mind that harbors thoughts and memories actively removed from conscious deliberation. Because this aspect of mind is, by definition, not accessible to introspection, it has proved difficult to investigate. Today the domain of the unconscious — described more generally in the realm of cognitive neuroscience as any processing that does not give rise to conscious awareness — is routinely studied in hundreds of laboratories using objective psychophysical techniques amenable to statistical analysis.
A Berkeley leftist cognitive scientist explains in this video:
Prof. George Lakoff - Reason is 98% Subconscious
The London Telegraph reports:
For a man who thinks he's a robot, Professor Patrick Haggard is remarkably cheerful about it. "We certainly don't have free will," says the leading British neuroscientist. "Not in the sense we think." It's quite a way to start an interview.

We're in the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, in Queen Square in London, the nerve centre – if you will – of British brain research. Prof Haggard is demonstrating "transcranial magnetic stimulation", a technique that uses magnetic coils to affect one's brain, and then to control the body. One of his research assistants, Christina Fuentes, is holding a loop-shaped paddle next to his head, moving it fractionally. "If we get it right, it might cause something." She presses a switch, and the coil activates with a click. Prof Haggard's hand twitches. "It's not me doing that," he assures me, "it's her."
This stuff is interesting, but I don't think that it is persuasive about free will or the unconscious.

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