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First some context. There's a well known study, which has been replicated and conclusive about the results, that shows that some decision are made some seconds before the person is conscious about making the decision.

The study in a nutshell could be described as asking a person to choose between moving its right hand or left hand, and asking him/her to record exactly what time it was when she decided what option to choose. Using fMRIs has been shown that even though the person say that his/her decision was made at time X, analysis of the brain function shows that such decision was already decided as far as 10 seconds before. (For more info just Google: 'fMRI and free will').

My point is: Ok, it was already decided 10 seconds ago. I'm not going to put that in doubt, it's just a hard evidence. What this shows is that it was already decided, but the question is then: Who decided it?. There are two options: It was me, or it wasn't me (i.e: some chain of causality of nature). I just want to explore the options of being me doing that decision.

I could say: Ok, it's true that was already decided, but who can say that it wasn't me in some sense?. As I approach the question I see two options. It was my conscious mind or my unconscious mind.

Clearly, it wasn't my conscious mind, just for the simple reason that in the experiment they asked me to record the time when I was conscious of my decision. And being proved that the decision was made before, simply shows that at least it wasn't a conscious decision.

So I guess I could claim that, it was me making the decision but my unconscious me. How can this be disproved?.

To show that I must show that I can't take credit for my unconscious. If my unconscious thoughts aren't my responsibility (to take credit for), why should mathematicians be credited for 'eureka' insights that appear while waking in the street without thinking of their problems consciously?

I'm having a hard time on this point. I'd really appreciate some insights!

Edit: Just some interesting reference with a short video.

  • possible duplicate of Trouble understanding Chomsky's answers on the free will question – virmaior Feb 22 '15 at 15:07
  • Consider opening your options. "There are two options: It was me, or it wasn't *me." Causality gets complicated quickly when dealing with freewill and probing the brain. If you call a coin "heads," and it comes up heads, was the fact that you got it right creditable to you, or was it nature, or is that possibly not the best phrasing to use for such a question? – Cort Ammon Feb 22 '15 at 20:14
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Clearly, it wasn't my conscious mind, just for the simple reason that in the experiment they asked me to record the time when I was conscious of my decision. And being proved that the decision was made before, simply shows that at least it wasn't a conscious decision.

... or that your version of the story is off by a few seconds.

So I guess I could claim that, it was me making the decision but my unconscious me. How can this be disproved?.

I don't know if it could be disproved. But when you define anything not-conscious as not-me then you didn't decide. If you do that (define, thusly, not decide), the only thing 'you', the conscious part, did was to tell a story later, one that happened to be wrong, as we where.

I really think it comes down to definitions: Is the unconsious a part of 'you' or not? if so, where does, say, your unsciopus part stop and your body begin, if at all? And so on.

  • see this answer for irdeas on why consciousness may be overrated: philosophy.stackexchange.com/a/6981/3391 – mart Feb 25 '15 at 12:58
  • I don't understand the "one that happened to be wrong, as we where" clause. – Dave Feb 25 '15 at 14:27
  • You tell a story about having just now decided to pull a lever, when in fact you decided 10 seconds sooner. will reword later. – mart Feb 25 '15 at 14:42
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Regardless of the referenced study, I agree that you are the one making the decisions.
I believe that all "the study" shows, is that in making a motor decision, there is some brain activity that precedes our conscious awareness of having made such decision. The following statements are offered as an explanation for this result.
1 - A survival advantage is obtained by making a decision to "fight or flee" as fast as possible. The faster, the greater the survival.
2 - Regardless of which way the decision goes, doing any "preparatory work" that can done ahead of time, will allow the decision to be completed sooner.
3 - In preparing for this type of decision, our conscious (CPU), "triggers" our subconscious (coprocessors) to do all preparatory work, and waits (goes to sleep) for notification that the preparatory work is done (CPU is not aware what the coprocessors do). When the coprocessors are done, control goes back to the CPU (our conscious). Our conscious is now reactivated to complete the decision.
It should now be clear that our conscious is the one that started and completed the decision process (even if we are unaware of a portion of it), therefore, we are the ones making the decisions.

  • Stack Exchange is not a network for exchanging opinions, but rather factual information. This answer essentially isn't more than stating your opinion. Please improve this question by providing references to philosophers supporting your theory (or delete your answer). For more information, see this meta post. – Keelan Feb 25 '15 at 9:53

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