Free-Will and the Subconscious


Most people believe themselves to be in complete control of their minds. I always thought I was. I can tell you now, with certainty, that isn’t the case.

The brain is an associating machine. Our knowledge and understanding requires countless associations. The interesting part is that these associations are made almost entirely unconsciously, even when they appear not to be.

If you think of a tree, you might picture a vague image, and associations such as leaves, bark, roots, etc. will start coming to your mind as a stream of thoughts. These thoughts, however, are not created by you, but rather your unconscious mind, and presented to your consciousness to take credit for their inception.

Basically, effortless thinking is simply going with the flow of the subconscious, embodying anything that makes sense. Effortful thinking is much the same, but when we’re engaged, we can actually “see” the stream of unconscious thoughts. The associations we seek in such modes are more precise, so we’re more critical of what we accept.

The vast majority of our thinking is subconscious, such as combining the symbols to form these words. We don’t even really author our own choices. We just have the power to choose from the many unconsciously provided options.

Summary: All conscious processes depend on events which are not conscious or controlled.