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Decomposing the Will$
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Andy Clark, Julian Kiverstein, and Tillmann Vierkant

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199746996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199746996.001.0001

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Voluntary Action and the Three Forms of Binding in the Brain

Voluntary Action and the Three Forms of Binding in the Brain

(p.183) 10 Voluntary Action and the Three Forms of Binding in the Brain
Decomposing the Will

Ezequiel Morsella

Tara C. Dennehy

John A. Bargh

Oxford University Press

Historically, consciousness has been linked to the highest of intellectual functions. For example, investigators have proposed that the primary function of consciousness pertains to language, “theory of mind,” the formation of the self, semantic processing, the meaningful interpretation of situations, and simulations of behavior and perception. This chapter determines what consciousness is for by focusing on the primary, basic role that consciousness contributes to action production. It approaches this question from a nontraditional perspective—by working backward from overt voluntary action to the underlying central processes. This approach reveals that the primary function of consciousness (to yield adaptive skeletomotor action by instantiating a unique form of integration, or “binding”) is more basic-level than what has been proposed. In addition, it reveals that “volition” and the skeletal muscle output system are intimately related to this primary function of consciousness.

Keywords:   consciousness, voluntary action, volition, intellectual functions, semantic processing, interpretation, skeletomotor action

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