“The Bignetti Model”: A Review

*Corresponding author: Enrico Bignetti*


Most people believe in the freedom of their will, so they are convinced to decide their own voluntary actions, without being controlled by God, fate, or circumstances. Though, the cognitive success of a learning curve depends on a statistical correlation between the prior experience and the posterior effect. Since long ago, several scientific pieces of evidence denied the existence of free-will (FW). Our scientific work contributed to corroborating the idea that FW might be an illusion of the mind; then, the belief that our conscious mind might exhibit decisional ability without any form of external control, is nonsense. Since that, we may exclude that our conscious mind could host a “soul-inhabited self ” or a “ghost of the machine”; if anything, it could host a sort of witness with a specific critical sense towards incoming experiences. Then, the intriguing question was how the mind could anyway exhibit cognition and behavior. Our answer was that our mind emerges from the brain as a probabilistic-deterministic computational machine with a self-oriented, cognitive, autopoietic purpose; to this aim, a virtual Ego-FW binomial is genetically installed in the mind in place of a real, concrete, independent Ego-FW binomial. According to psychophysical “push-no-push” experiments, we observed that learning curves show classic Bayesian behavior, i.e. the positive experience of a trial will ameliorate the further one. Then, we concluded that the action decision mechanism is elaborated by a computational mechanism genetically installed in the brain of all people, while the experience gained in everyday life is the epigenetic force that modifies the memory archive, thus contributing to shaping personal identity (PI). The 1st-person perspective (1PP) and the 3rd-person perspective (3PP) play a crucial role in these processes. 1PP is the emotive, subjective side of the conscious mind; it deludes to decide and control the actions according to the freedom of its will but it may move around only as an avatar in a virtual game. On the contrary, 3PP is the objective and rational perspective of the conscious mind; it works as an external witness of the constrained activity of 1PP. Obviously, while reacting in response to a stimulus, the subject is on the 1PP side of the conscious mind; thus, she/he cannot accept the idea that FW might be an illusion; paradoxically, the false belief in FW is the necessary condition of the mind to get the best cognition and behavior. In conclusion, we have investigated these mechanisms of human cognition and behaviour in over 20-years of work; in the meanwhile, we have elaborated “The Bignetti Model”, a human cognitive model compatible with these results.

The Bignetti Model; Free-will illusion; Consciousness; Personal identity (PI); Action-decision mechanism; Voluntary action; Probabilistic-deterministic brain; Trials-and-errors strategy; Cause-and-effect law.