“One of the most exciting recent research fields in neuroscience and experimental psychology is mind-wandering – the study of spontaneous or task-unrelated thoughts. Its results have radical implications for politics, education and morality. If we consider the empirical findings, we arrive at a surprising result of profound philosophical significance: cognitive control is the exception, while its absence is the rule. Much of the time we like to describe some foundational ‘self’ as the initiator or cause of our actions, but this is a pervasive myth. In fact, we only resemble something like this for about a third of our conscious lifetime. We don’t exactly know when and how children first learn to do it, and it’s plausible that many of us gradually lose it towards the end of our lives. As far as our inner life is concerned, the science of mind-wandering implies that we’re only rarely autonomous persons.
Mind-wandering research suggests that…”