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The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self
 
 

The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Metzinger
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Review

'A leading figure in 'conciousness studies' here offers a scintillatingly unusual work of neuroscientifically informed philosophy... Metzinger writes with urgent curiosity, refreshing parts that other philosophers of mind don't ordinarily reach.'
--The Guardian

Product Description

We’re used to thinking about the self as an independent entity, something that we either have or are. In The Ego Tunnel, philosopher Thomas Metzinger claims otherwise: No such thing as a self exists. The conscious self is the content of a model created by our brain—an internal image, but one we cannot experience as an image. Everything we experience is “a virtual self in a virtual reality.”

But if the self is not “real,” why and how did it evolve? How does the brain construct it? Do we still have souls, free will, personal autonomy, or moral accountability? In a time when the science of cognition is becoming as controversial as evolution, The Ego Tunnel provides a stunningly original take on the mystery of the mind.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1053 KB
  • Print Length: 291 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0465045677
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (17 Mar 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0097DHVGW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #68,503 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
'Profound' is a much overused word but, with reference to Thomas Metzinger's book, 'The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self', it is wholly appropriate. This is a book that extends far below the surface of things, beyond the external and the superficial, that penetrates to the depth of our being and which touches, as a result, on the very things that many people hold to be the essence of what it is to be 'human'. Metzinger, in fact, does far more than merely touch on such things - he reaches right inside your guts, up to his shoulder and beyond, and roots about as though he's trying to turn you inside out; undoubtedly, many people won't appreciate having many of their most sacred notions challenged in quite this forceful a manner but this book encompasses both the sacred *and* the profane without being, I hasten to add, in the least bit contemptuous of those religious ideas, or mores, that it might appear to render utterly obsolete. If you're fired-up by the idea of discovering just how fantastically, mind-bogglingly, counter-intuitive reality 'really' is - or probably is - then this book is most certainly for you.

Metzinger succeeds, in my opinion, in two key respects: Firstly, in showing why the broad sweep of his own thinking, with regards to the reductionist 'science of mind', is most certainly both reasonable and plausible - given the evidence in front of us - and even quite probable. Secondly, he succeeds, brilliantly, in identifying and clarifying many of the implications, or perceived implications, of that thinking, should it turn out to be, in its essence, correct. For example, Metzinger writes (p.130):

"If one takes the scientific worldview seriously, no such things as goals exist, and there is nobody who selects or specifies an action.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The self is a myth. Your brain is effectively an onboard computer creating a 'transparent' real time virtual reality of it's environment. Consciousness is the binding of various parallel brain processes. The self is actually the brain's plastic model itself, not an external non-physical entity. There is not doubt that these are big claims. Metzinger is primarily a philosopher but is well versed in neuroscience. Here he discusses the neural correlates of consciousness, out of body experiences, lucid dreaming, empathy and AI to back up his ideas. While he admits that we still do not have all the answers about the human mind, we are certainly well on the way. Whether we like it or not, all the evidence certainly seems to suggest that the mind does indeed emerge from the bottom up not the other way way as human has so long believed.

However, for Metzinger this is only the beginning. He goes further to ask what this apparent truth means to humanity. Taking away some of our most cherished beliefs is potentially dangerous. However, denial is equally ridden with peril; prohibition is doomed to failure. Therefore, we need to rethink our ethics in the face of this consciousness revolution. Would it be morally right to allow people to artificially induce any mental state on demand? What will happen to humanity if the global population were to face the truth about their mortality? He doesn't offer any answers but states that it's about time that we started asking ourselves these questions. The truth isn't going away and we need to be prepared to face it. This is entertaining and deeply thought provoking - essential reading.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force from a master 15 April 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent and penetrating analysis of the self in the light of the latest scientific findings. Not only that, it carries a philosophical resonance that bears comparison with Kant's classic Critique of Pure Reason. Thomas Metzinger wrote a big, heavy book a few years ago called Being No One, which I read dutifully. The ideas were brilliant but the exposition was hard work. I am delighted to find he has enlisted the stylistic help of a couple of English-speaking assistants to make this book a pleasure to read. I have known Thomas since 1997 and met him at several scientific conferences over the years, and I was always impressed by his intellect and his scientific knowledge. Both are in evidence in this book, which I heartily recommend to anyone who wants an authoritative and insightful review of the current status of our knowledge of the self and how our brain helps us sustain one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed The Ego Tunnel and you can tell that Thomas Metzinger is a highly gifted and very imaginative 'neurophilosopher' (whatever that is). This book is a summary of his magnum opus, Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity, also highly recommended. However, because it is a long summary, the first part of The Ego Tunnel feels somewhat chopped down, like a pamphlet, for the general reader and the final part goes sci fi, with robots, singularities and watered-down Brave New World ethical dilemas that are not a patch on Aldous Huxley's little dialogue at the end of his masterpiece... You can forgive me for loosing interest towards the end then.

Metzinger's copernican revolution in thought (he doesn't compare himself to Copernicus, though he probably thinks he's a later day revolutionary) is predicated on the rubber hand illusion and its cousin, the hyped-up out of body illusion. You can see both illusions on You Tube.

For the uninitiated, both illusion are impressive but if you open any psychology text book, there are pages upon pages of illusions and party tricks, like the picture that looks like a duck and a rabbit at once, or the image that can either be a young lady or an old women. These days, people are putting impressive optical illusions on Facebook all the time and persective illusion have been known for years. So these illusions are well known but no one is going to build an ontology on a party trick, which, if we are honest, is what the rubber hand illusion is. So keep this in mind when reading this still readable book.

Ego Tunnel worth buying because it is up to date on consciousness research and Metzinger is smart and you will benefit from what he says.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Never crosses the boundary into quackery
Quite a good challenge to our notions of the rational self with references to genuine scientific research.

I wasn't keen on the style. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Hfffoman
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener for anyone interested in consciousness
Thomas Metzinger obviously is one of those few people who can explain and describe complex topics in clear speech, making it all seem easy to understand. Read more
Published 13 months ago by jummonk
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone.
A difficult read, makes you wonder why you bothered.Purely a personal opinion, but I got nothing out of this book.
Published 14 months ago by Mr. J. Schofield
4.0 out of 5 stars The myth of Thomas
I remember reading a review of this or perhaps "being no one" in New Scientist" in which the reviewer complained that he merely offered hard won scientific ideas and data in a... Read more
Published 16 months ago by DIV
5.0 out of 5 stars thoughts to feed your life
If you want to have an impact into your life decision making, you need to know how your mind works. this book ca help you to reach it
Published on 31 Dec 2011 by phoenix
5.0 out of 5 stars Consciousness explored
Brilliant minds have laboured long and hard over the last two to three decades to arrive at the point where we have been able to plausibly deconstruct consciousness as an illusion. Read more
Published on 14 Oct 2011 by John Ferngrove
4.0 out of 5 stars Being a virtual self inside a virtual reality
According to Thomas Metzinger, we live in a sort of virtual reality. Everything that we experience is ''a virtual self in a virtual reality''...... Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2011 by Simon Laub
1.0 out of 5 stars For me, disappointing
I was quite excited to receive this book having read both the reviews and the blurb. After reading it I'm sadly feeling thoroughly mis-sold. Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2011 by Simon D
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy of Neuroscience for the Everyman
Towards the end of the book the author admits that he is a philosophical parasite and that he feels indebted to the public for having used their funds,and is therefore attempting... Read more
Published on 10 Dec 2010 by nicholas hargreaves
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