Everyone knows what it feels like to have consciousness: it’s that self-evident sense of personal awareness, which gives us a feeling of ownership and control over the thoughts, emotions and experiences that we have every day.
Most experts think that consciousness can be divided into two parts: the experience of consciousness, and the contents of consciousness, which include things such as thoughts, beliefs, sensations, perceptions, intentions, memories and emotions.
It’s easy to assume that these contents of consciousness are somehow chosen, caused or controlled by our personal awareness – after all, thoughts don’t exist until until we think them.
The personal narrative exists in parallel with our personal awareness, but the latter has no influence over the former.
The personal narrative is important because it provides information to be stored in your autobiographical memory, and gives human beings a way of communicating the things we have perceived and experienced to others.
If our personal awareness does not control the contents of the personal narrative which reflects our thoughts, feelings, emotions, actions and decisions, then perhaps we should not be held responsible for them.
Just because consciousness has been placed in the passenger seat, does not mean we need to dispense with important everyday notions such as free will and personal responsibility.