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Are We Free?Psychology and Free Will$
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John Baer, James C. Kaufman, and Roy F. Baumeister

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189636

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189636.001.0001

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Self Is Magic

Self Is Magic

Chapter:
(p.226) 11 Self Is Magic
Source:
Are We Free?
Author(s):

Daniel M Wegner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189636.003.0011

Human action is a kind of magic, an astonishing ability to think of something and thereby make it happen. Perhaps this is why each person views self with awe — The Great Selfini amazes and delights! We are enchanted by the operation of our minds and bodies into believing that we are “uncaused causes”, the origins of our own behavior. Unfortunately, the magic self stands in the way of the scientific understanding of the psychological, neural, and social origins of our behavior and thought. This chapter examines this standoff by outlining the theory of apparent mental causation — a theory of how the self's magic may arise. It then considers why the concept of self as an inner origin of our actions presents such a robust illusion. Finally, the chapter explores why evolution might have unfolded in such a way as to make us think we are magical creatures.

Keywords:   conscious will, apparent mental causation, free will, determinism, self-control

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