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Free Will and the Brain: Are We Automata?

Wlodzislaw Duch
Chapter in M. Jaskula and B. Buszewski (eds.), Ethics and Science for the Environment, 3rd European Forum., Societas Humboldtiana Polonorum, 2011, 155-170.


However, just when self-consciousness emerged as a trait of the brain is in debate. Julian Jaynes, a psychologist at Princeton, proposed "the bicameral mind" hypothesis claiming that until about 3000 years ago, people had no subjective consciousness, the capacity for self-awareness that we experience as consciousness. They were not conscious of their own thought processes. His argument is based on the lack of evidence in such early texts as the Iliad, Odyssey and Bible of introspection or self awareness. Thirteenth century medieval illuminations still show ancient authors being dictated to by divines. Although Jaynes idea of consciousness as a neurological adaptation to social complexity is still speculative there is no doubt that we are not aware of most high-level processes, and can even find ourselves suddenly humming on whistling, or acting and trying to rationalize that behaviour later.