M-Autonomy

Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (11-12):270-302 (2015)
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Abstract

What we traditionally call ‘conscious thought’ actually is a subpersonal process, and only rarely a form of mental action. The paradigmatic, standard form of conscious thought is non-agentive, because it lacks veto-control and involves an unnoticed loss of epistemic agency and goal-directed causal self-determination at the level of mental content. Conceptually, it must be described as an unintentional form of inner behaviour. Empirical research shows that we are not mentally autonomous subjects for about two thirds of our conscious lifetime, because while conscious cognition is unfolding, it often cannot be inhibited, suspended, or terminated. The instantiation of a stable first- person perspective as well as of certain necessary conditions of personhood turn out to be rare, graded, and dynamically variable properties of human beings. I argue that individual representational events only become part of a personal-level process by being functionally integrated into a specific form of transparent conscious self-representation, the ‘epistemic agent model’. The EAM may be the true origin of our consciously experienced firstperson perspective

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