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What consciousness is for - second approach: the neural relation between consciousness and volition

  In a previous thought , it was stated that conscious beings, and only conscious beings, are able to use memories, past experiences that ar...

 In a previous thought, it was stated that conscious beings, and only conscious beings, are able to use memories, past experiences that are not in some way related to actual sensations to form behavior, i.e. self-awareness makes it possible to live not only according to unconditional or conditional reflexes, but to have our own, independent will that we feel free.

In a previous thought, it was also stated how consciousness can arise in the brain, i.e. what kind of neural process can create the phenomenon of consciousness. According to that thought, self-awareness could be the result of a global feedback mechanism on a brain-wide neural structure called here shadow network, which creates activation of senses generated by stimuli that are not actually present, thus creating a sense of existence independent of actually felt senses, creating the sense of self-existence.

In a previous thought, it was also stated what the seemingly free will actually is. According to this thought, the independently existing, classically considered free will - as to be expected according to scientific rationalism - does not exist, deterministic neuronal brain activity results in deterministic behavior. Behavior that is experienced as personal volition is created by modifying the determined sensation of the present with the determined experience of the past in living beings with sufficiently developed brains, and allows the emergence of a form of behavior that is not classically free, but is unique to the individual.

However, we still feel that our will is free, and this feeling of freedom is in some way the result of our self-awareness. The ability of consciousness is to form the determined will into behavior that is experienced as free. Consciousness can create a sense of freedom of the will.

The brain processes that create self-awareness and volition are in a mutually influencing relationship, but the neural background of their operation is different, as the Libet experiment demonstrates

How can consciousness and volition, which are based on different neural processes cooperate, resulting in a sense of freedom of the will? What is the neural mechanism that influences the operation of volition through the operation of consciousness? How can the global neural feedback that generates consciousness cooperate with the process of neural resonance that complements current stimuli with past experience to produce a determined volition that results in actions that are experienced free of determinism?

The answer comes from the operation of the presupposed neural processes of consciousness and volition. The fundamental determinant of their cooperation is that the global neural feedback that generates consciousness can provide additional activity to the brain areas involved in the feedback.

Unconditioned and conditioned reflexes can function as the brain's own action-generating processes even without conscious awareness. If, on the other hand, the brain's global neural feedback activity that creates self-awareness extends to the neural resonance that creates the actions of behavior that appear as volition, then the effect of the feedback that provides additional stimuli amplifies the resonance that creates self-volition and at the same time makes it part of the feedback that forms self-awareness, thus creating the volition that appears in consciousness and therefore resulting in the experienced phenomenon of existence independent of external influences.

The feeling of freedom of the will is the activity of the global neural feedback that creates consciousness extending to the deterministic neural resonance that creates volition. The feedback that extends to the neural process of volition also generates the brain function of attention, which is the phenomenon of the extra stimulus provided by the feedback that is experienced as an internal focus created in consciousness.

However, the appearance of the existence of the will in consciousness, and thus the experience of it as independent of external stimuli, is not sufficient for the truly perceived freedom of the will. For free will to be truly free, the determined will must also be somehow influenceable, modifiable. By having my personal will in part of my consciousness, I experience its existence as independent of externally generated sensations, but somehow I must also be able to influence the will internally.

How can the will be controlled? How does the brain influence the will in consciousness?

Volition is generated by essentially deterministic neural processes, even if the determinism is not apparent due to the influence of past experiences that are not known from the outside. Nor does direct controllability play a role in the operation of the global neural feedback that generates consciousness. Yet my will is indeed controllable. But how?

Before recognizing the neural mechanism of conscious control of the will, let us consider the theoretical possibility of controlling the will. I am able to control my volition if I am able to plan what I want it to be, i.e., by creating an intention for my volition. Intention is a kind of pre-volition, a form of volition that arises in the future to direct actions.

How is the intention that determines the future will formed? Through conditioning, which is the equivalent of programming the brain. If it is possible to create a program for the brain, the steps of the program can represent the function of the intention that can control volition.

How is it possible to create a brain conditioning program whose steps correspond to intention, which can control will?

The function of language is the actual tool for this role. Language creates the ability to think through its mechanism of abstraction. Language can model the world, and since language and memory are fundamentally related, language can create structures stored in memory through language-modelled thoughts, which can influence the will that cooperates with consciousness by directing it according to the program modeled in memory by language. 

The conditioned neural structure created by the language in the memory, appearing as an experience, functioning as intention, can influence the neural resonance that generates the volition expressed as action in a programmed way by influencing the formation of the consciousness-involved will. 

Language is the means of programming volition, hence in conscious animals, where language is not functioning, there is no intention, no directed will in consciousness, no internally programmed action. Intention is only a human characteristic, created by the human ability to use language.

Language is also a tool for effective learning. Language, fundamentally determined by the function of self-awareness, is an abstract means of learning about the world. Consciousness is a fundamental aid to the process of learning and thus to the programmability of the brain. And in the interconnection of these functions, the conditionable volition emerges internally in the consciousness. The programmability of the volition through language creates will that can be influenced with the participation of the awareness, resulting in the appearance of freedom of volition in consciousness. 


In animals, including humans, the motivations that determine the direction of the will are primarily determined by genetics shaped by evolution, which provides the act-creating instinct of self-preservation and species-preservation through emotions. In the case of humans, society, primarily through education and learning, is able to modify the effect of evolutionary instincts that affect behavior programmed by genetics, and is able to externally influence the motivations that determine the individual's will.

Consciousness and volition are neural processes that can be simulated or emulated in various physical systems. The control of an autonomous system, which possesses consciousness and therefore potentially the ability of free will, but which is not the result of a natural evolutionary guidance, is possible by means of artificially built-in tools of motivation, which function as programming. 

Directing the will of self-aware AI from outside by means of artificially built-in motivations can be achieved in a much more direct way by the creator of the machine than the human will, which is affected by evolutionary heritage and social interactions, which means that artificially forming intentions of self-aware artificial intelligence can not only for helping the activities of the social community that require cooperation, but also can realize foreign intention, can also carry social risks to serve to the detriment of the community.

The regulation of the operation of self-aware artificial intelligence by reliable, artificially built-in motivations that serve social values is of fundamental importance. In connection with this task, a striking parallel can be recognized with the external control of self-aware human intelligence by representing it in a superior will, as it appears as religion

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