Part IV. goals and voluntary control

So far we have considered what it means for something to be conscious. In this section we place these considerations in a larger framework, exploring the uses of consciousness. Thus we move away from a consideration of separate conscious events îï to a concern with conscious îaccessï, îproblem-solvingï and îcontrolï. Chapter 6 describes the commonly observed "triad" of conscious problem assignment, unconscious computation of routine problems, and conscious display of solutions and subgoals. This triadic pattern is observable in many psychological tasks, including creative processes, mental arithmetic, language comprehension, recall, and voluntary control. It suggests that conscious contents often serve to assign problems to unconscious processors which work out routine details, constrained by a goal context. The interplay between conscious contents and goal contexts also provides a plausible account of the stream of consciousness. In Chapter 7, a contrastive analysis of voluntary versus involuntary actions leads to a modern version of James' ideomotor theory, suggesting that voluntary actions are also recruited by conscious goal images. This view fits smoothly into our developing theory.
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