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The New Unconscious$
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Ran R. Hassin, James S. Uleman, and John A. Bargh

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195307696

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307696.001.0001

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Who Is the Controller of Controlled Processes?

Who Is the Controller of Controlled Processes?

Chapter:
(p.18) (p.19) 1 Who Is the Controller of Controlled Processes?
Source:
The New Unconscious
Author(s):

Daniel M. Wegner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307696.003.0002

Controlled processes are viewed as conscious, effortful, and intentional, and as drawing on more sources of information than automatic processes. With this power of conscious will, controlled processes seem to bring the civilized quality back to psychological explanation that automatic processes leave out. Yet by reintroducing this touch of humanity, the notion of a controlled process also brings us within glimpsing range of a fatal theoretical error—the idea that there is a controller. This chapter begins by examining why the notion of a controller is a problem. It shows that theories of controlled processes often imply that the person (or some other inner agent such as “consciousness” or “the will” or “the self”) is a legitimate possible cause of the person's observed thought or behavior. This supposition undermines the possibility of a scientific theory of psychology by creating an explanatory entity that cannot itself be explained. This chapter also discusses the homunculus problem, apparent mental causation, real mental causation, and virtual agency.

Keywords:   controlled processes, controller, psychology, conscious will, self, homunculus, apparent mental causation, real mental causation, virtual agency, agent

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