Embrace Your Inner Zombie

Auto-pilot zombies can set free the rest of us, muses philosopher
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2012 1:20 AM CDT
Embrace Your Inner Zombie
Except for this zombie.Don't embrace him.   (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Maybe so many of us love zombie movies because we are, at heart, zombies. That's a view considered by philosopher Alva Noë, who on NPR notes that we seem to be partial to the idea that we aren't really the authors of what we do but function pretty much automatically, driven by a "neural zombie deep within" us. Noë concedes we may be driven by a kind of inner zombie, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. He argues that it's really our own individual expertise, not being brain dead, that drives much of our automatic action, which lets our "real selves" soar. He points to star athletes or accomplished musicians who have become so proficient at what they do that they don't have to consciously think about certain moves.

"The expert leaves the plodding, deliberative mind behind and enters 'the zone,' lets the zombie within guide the fingers as they race over the neck of guitar, or the hands and feet as they work the pedals and gear shift as you accelerate to overtake on the highway," he notes. "Skillful, fluent action is not slavery to the neural zombie within; it is liberation from the rote and the regulated," he concludes. "It is intelligent life." (More autonomic stories.)

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