• Language – who’s choosing my words?

    I find this amazing. Language. I can have a 45 minute conversation with a friend. Neither of us consciously think up individual words. Our word choices (even as I am typing this) are non-consciously chosen. At 150 words a minute, that’s a lot of words decided upon non-consciously. I generally appear to be listening to my own words when they come out. Sometimes I think to myself, in some kind of ‘Cartesian theatre’, “Wow, Johno, what a clever thing to say” as if I had not thought of saying something like that or phrasing it so. Possibly I hadn’t – my non-conscious brain was reacting to auditory stimuli and constructing replies. My conscious brain just seems to ride the wave.

    This, of course, is the basis of epiphenomenalism which, as wiki will tell you, is the theory in philosophy of mind that mental phenomena are caused by physical processes in the brain or that both are effects of a common cause, as opposed to mental phenomena driving the physical mechanics of the brain. The impression that thoughts, feelings, or sensations cause physical effects, is therefore to be understood as illusory to some extent. For example, it is not the feeling of fear that produces an increase in heart beat, both are symptomatic of a common physiological origin, possibly in response to a legitimate external threat.

    Think about this the next time you talk to someone today. Think about whether you think about your words.

    Category: ConsciousnessFree Will and Determinism


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce