Benjamin Libet, Pioneer (not jw) Scientist in human consciousness
Libet's experiments suggest to some [ 6 ] that unconscious processes in the brain are the true initiator of volitional acts, and free will therefore plays no part in their initiation. If unconscious brain processes have already taken steps to initiate an action before consciousness is aware of any desire to perform it, the causal role of consciousness in volition is all but eliminated, according to this interpretation. For instance, Susan Blackmore's interpretation is "that conscious experience takes some time to build up and is much too slow to be responsible for making things happen." [ 7 ]
Libet finds that conscious volition is exercised in the form of 'the power of veto' (sometimes called "free won't" [ 8 ] [ 9 ] ); the idea that conscious acquiescence is required to allow the unconscious buildup of the readiness potential to be actualized as a movement. While consciousness plays no part in the instigation of volitional acts, Libet suggested that it may still have a part to play in suppressing or withholding certain acts instigated by the unconscious. Libet noted that everyone has experienced the withholding from performing an unconscious urge. Since the subjective experience of the conscious will to act preceded the action by only 200 milliseconds, this leaves consciousness only 100-150 milliseconds to veto an action (this is because the final 50 milliseconds prior to an act are occupied by the activation of the spinalmotor neurones by the primary motor cortex, and the margin of error indicated by tests utilizing the oscillator must also be considered).
Libet's experiments have received support from other research related to the Neuroscience of free will.
Isn't study of human conscience fascinating...I have been reading a bit about it lately.
However, because it is mainly a philosophical discussion...opinions seem to vary greatly. I find myself reading something and thinking...oooh, that makes sense. Only to read a differing perspective and agreeing with them too.
The joy of philosophy!
Interesting, I will check out Libet. . .
Just finished Damasio's "Descartes' Error": very interesting, parts go above my head, but worth a read.
Wish I could have posted but something is preventing me.
Well it seems I can at the moment so here is my first post: post post. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Libet Benjamin Libet ( /'l?b?t/; April 12, 1916, Chicago, Illinois - July 23, 2007, Davis, California) was a pioneering scientist in the field of human consciousness. Libet was a researcher in the physiology department of the University of California, San Francisco. In 2003, he was the first recipient of the Virtual Nobel Prize in Psychology from the University of Klagenfurt, "for his pioneering achievements in the experimental investigation of consciousness, initiation of action, and free will". In the 1970s, Libet was involved in research into neural activity and sensation thresholds. His initial investigations involved determining how much activation at specific sites in the brain was required to trigger artificial somatic sensations, relying on routine psychophysical procedures. This work soon crossed into an investigation into human consciousness; his most famous experiment was meant to demonstrate that the unconscious electrical processes in the brain called Bereitschaftspotential (or readiness potential) discovered by Lüder Deecke and Hans Helmut Kornhuber in 1964 precede conscious decisions to perform volitional, spontaneous acts, implying that unconscious neuronal processes precede and potentially cause volitional acts which are retrospectively felt to be consciously motivated by the subject. The experiment has caused controversy not only because it challenges the belief in free will, but because it relies on questionable methods and rather narrow assumptions regarding how free decisions occur. It has also inspired further study of the neuroscience of free will.