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Consciousness and Control: Not Identical Twins

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Human cognition and action are intentional and goal-directed, and explaining how they are controlled is one of the most important tasks of the cognitive sciences. After half a century of benign neglect this task is enjoying increased attention. Unfortunately, however, current theorizing about control in general, and the role of consciousness for/in control in particular, suffers from major conceptual flaws that lead to confusion regarding the following distinctions: (i) automatic and unintentional processes, (ii) exogenous control and disturbance (in a control-theoretical sense) of endogenous control, (iii) conscious control and conscious access to control, and (iv) personal and systems levels of analysis and explanation. Only if these flaws are overcome will a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between consciousness and control emerge.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Leiden University, Department of Psychology, Cognitive Psychology Unit, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden, The Netherlands., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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