From NPR—the introductory remarks:
The zombie within: the idea that we don’t know what we are doing, or where we are going, when we think we best know, is an old one. (The words I’ve just paraphrased are Emerson’s.)
James Atlas, in a recent New York Times article, is probably on to something when he notices that there has been an explosion recently of what he wittily calls Can’t-Help-Yourself Books. These are books that take as their starting point something like the idea that science now teaches us the “choices we make in day-to-day life are prompted by impulses lodged deep within the nervous system” and that, therefore, in some sense, we are not really the authors of our own actions, responses, choices.
Today I want to come at the question of whether we are really controlled by a neural zombie deep within by considering one route that might lead to that conclusion. This has to do with how we think about thinking, action and the intellect.
Read the whole thing—interesting thoughts on intelligent life and learning—and although the author never mentions it, free will vs. determinism.