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The Illusion of Conscious Will (MIT Press) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2003/8/11
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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.
... Dr. Wegner's critique... is less philosophical than empirical, drawing heavily upon recent research in cognitive science and neurology.(John Horgan The New York Times)
Fascinating... I recommend the book as a first-rate intellectual adventure.(Herbert Silverman Science Books & Films)
... very convincing.(David Wilson American Scientist)
Wegner has finessed all the usual arguments into a remarkable demonstration of how psychology can sometimes transform philosophy.... [He] writes with humour and clarity.(Sue Blackmore Times Literary Supplement)
Wegner is a terrific writer, sharing his encyclopedic purchase on the material in amusing, entertaining, and masterful ways.(David Brizer, M.D. Psychiatric Services) 商品の説明をすべて表示する
This quandry highlights perhaps the most curious aspect of the book: is its unproblematic approach to the self. Despite the radical revision (read destruction) of free will, the common-sense idea of self is rarely if ever addressed as needing any explanation. This is strange when one considers that the most salient feature of self is usually taken to be will. But if will is a passive illusion, what of the self which experiences it? Moreover, Wegner seems to treat self as sometimes equivalent to mind, and sometimes a detached observer of the mind's actions. ..
Thus, Wegner does NOT deny that we are the authors of our own actions or that thoughts cause actions; but he denies that "will" is among the causally effective psychological events. "Will" is a way of keeping track of which actions are caused by me--by my intentions, beliefs, desires, and so forth. It is an indicator, and a vitally important one, but not more than that.
I will be surprised if this this theory turns out to be ultimately correct, mostly because Wegner seems to lack an adequate general theory of consciousness and its functions within which to house and understand will. Consciousness did not arise for no reason--any trait that occurs at a rate above chance must be naturally selected, hence evolutionarily important, and consciousness occurs in about 100% of humans and apparently huge numbers of other animal species. Consciousness could turn out to be just sort of a matter of taste, effectively useless, like the peacock's tail. But that seems unlikely, since consciousness seems to be much more universal that shiny big tails. Conscious will needs to be understood as part of consciousness, and very good science--theoretical and experiemtnal--demonstrates that consciousness has causal efficacy. (See, for instance, Bernard J. Baars' nice intro to "consciousness science" in his book, "In the Theater of Conscousness.")
That said, the feeling of willing remains distinct from other elements of consciousness--simply because each type of mental content is distinct from each other type--and thus much needs to be understood about its peculiar traits and function. Wegner certainly points in intriguing directions.
Two disappointment: First, and fairly trivial, Wegner knows very well that his theory is very, very far from being established, or even being the leading contender, and he often says so--e.g., that the evidence is "consistent with" the theory, or "suggests" the theory, or that the theory "would help" undertand various things. But being human, he can't avoid slipping into assuming and talking as though his theory is simply right--sometimes calling it an "assumption" and a "realization" in the same paragraph! I found the latter annoying.
More significant, Wegner sidesteps one central issue: Why does "will" feel free? We all know that we sometimes initate actions without feeling free to do otherwise--whenever "curiousity gets the better" of you, for instance. Other times we experience ourselves as free to will one thing or the other. Saying that will is perception of my causing my own acts does not explain the difference--and that difference is one of the main things the free will/determinism debate is about.
Like his Harvard Colleague Daniel Gilbert, Daniel Wegner has the dual gifts of being a gifted researcher and gifted writer. There is insufficient space in a brief review to outline all the arguments raised by this book, or all the topics covered. The good ideas come thick and fast, but are presented with sufficient clarity that they should be understandable to most intelligent readers, even those without an extensive background in psychology or philosophy.
On top of his writing and research, Wegner's ability to theorize from the evidence and consider evidence in light of theory is outstanding. A great deal of the research Wegner reports in this book is his own. In addition, he does a masterful job of scouring current and historical literature for interesting examples to support his case.
There are some good concise summaries of the arguments made in this book in academic psychology articles by Wegner. Some of which can be downloaded from his homepage: these may provide a good start if you are presently unsure about buying the book. I think people who enjoy Daniel Dennett's philosophical writings on consciousness would enjoy this book.