Monthly Archives: February 2013

Think of a Number


There’s a bit of role play here. I would like you to join in. I think it enhances the effect.

Imagine you are standing with me here on the Moor admiring the views. Our thoughts turn to philosophical matters. I would like to put forward a proposition…

PBG: Think of a number between 1 and 10, and say it out loud.

(Go on. Join in)

You: …………..

(I wonder what you said.)

What I’d like to propose is that this is a demonstration of free will in its simplest form. You were asked to choose, and you chose. What could be simpler? Except, I submit that when you said it out loud, your choice was as much news to you as it was to me.

Consciousness is a spectator sport. All ‘decisions’ are made at a level below consciousness, they then appear in our minds. Sometimes only as a result of speaking them out loud as in the case above.

This leads us on to the further question: Was there any decision at any level? We need to think about the word decision and how we are going to define it but, as I see it, this sort of decision is at the same level as the decisions a spider makes when building its web. Consciousness is simply not an active participant.

I’d like to take this further and apply it to any conversation. Think of a recent conversation, about anything, it could be the weather, football, a film, a book, a coffee order, whatever. What could be more natural? More free? But again I submit that your conscious experience of that conversation and your part in it is that of a spectator: the thoughts you voice, your opinions, your choices, are unknown to you till you give voice to them.

Consciousness is a spectator sport.