Re: Mental Imaging

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Tue Apr 16 1996 - 18:17:17 BST

> Date: Tue, 16 Apr 1996 16:39:18 +0100 (BST)
> From: "Fletcher, Emma" <>
> If I sit and image an apple in my mind, presumably it is unconscious
> processes in my brain that enable me to remember and to produce the
> form texture and colour of the fruit. However, what was it that
> primarily prompted me to think about the apple? O.k. I purposely set
> out to produce this image, but what made me want to? What prompted my
> conscious decision to produce this image?
> Unconscious processing? If this is so then why shouldn't all my
> thoughts and actions be random?

Very good question, and it will come up in full glory when we get to
Libet's work on timing the moment of willing: You're right that if the
real work of imaging an apple is unconsciously done for you, then the
very act of willing to image an apple should also be done unconsciously
for you (indeed, what else could it be? are you any more aware of how
you will than how you image, as you pointed out?).

But why should it follow from this that your thoughts and actions are
random? You are a Darwinian adapted organism, shaped by the blind
survival/reproduction-favouring forces of evolution as well as a
lifetime of learning and interactions with other Darwinians of your
species: The outcome of that is not likely to be random. What's at
issue is whether the source of its nonrandomness is your own mind
(consciousness, will), or whether your mind and its IMPRESSION of being
in charge is merely one of the effects, rather than the causes of that

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