Re: Free will (was: Re: Mind control 1965)

Bernard Hughes (
Mon, 19 Oct 1998 17:49:16 -0230

Scott Badger wrote:

> (A1) if, as I believe he suggests, a part of my brain is constructing a
> best-fit storyline to account for the actions of other neural sub-
> systems, and
> (A2) if this story is a mixture of interpretation and confabulation, and
> (A3) if I perceive that *I* am the story being told by the story-teller,
> then
> (B) Isn't the notion of self an illusion? (and isn't this an
> increasingly
> popular theory among consciousness researchers?)

I don't think B follows from A. The description in A fits my current model of how brains work quite well. But the "story-teller" is just one neural subsystems. For me, concepts like "free will" apply at the level of interactions between the subsystems. Observing that the subsystems are too simple to support the behavior of the total system is normal for complex systems.

Its a pet peeve of mine that when I say that the human behavior is based on the firing of neurons, some people jump to, "you think we are just a bundle of neurons". The "just" takes out most of the interesting stuff about how the brain works, and rather misrepresents my view. I like the "Society of Mind" model which I think Scott is referring to. But I don't think it implies the brain is "just" a collection of neural sub-systems. The "story-teller" may be an important part of the perception of self, but without the other parts, it would have no stories to tell.