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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The self is a bundle and pesky Buddhism got there first!
Baggini clearly and engagingly convinced me my strong sense of self or "I" is simply a bundle of components in my brain and body interacting with the environment that change continuously throughout life. It is a joy to read his subtle arguments that feel common sense, and that you always knew them to be true. He interviews philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists,...
Published on 30 April 2011 by Bill

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars accessible and well written
well written, easy to read and very accessible arguments, with references to interesting anecdotes and case studies. Still, I found it difficult to connect with the...enormity?...of the topic. The reasoning used by Baggini is cogent and convincing, and largely very thorough; but I didn't have any 'ah' moments about the fickle or intangible nature of Self. For me, most of...
Published on 13 Jan. 2013 by verity


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 19 April 2014
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This review is from: The Ego Trick (Paperback)
Really good book, changed my view of myself, I recommend it for everyone interested in philosophy. Especially philosophy of mind, memory, consciousness etc.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's good to see a book which combines so many approaches ..., 11 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Ego Trick (Paperback)
It's good to see a book which combines so many approaches (neuro-science, philosophy, religion, psychology), and remains open-minded about nearly all of them. It's also funny, intelligent and well written. But it's still mostly a philosphical work, so expect a lot of talking and not a lot of answers! Liked it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched, Well written, 28 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The Ego Trick (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this book very much. It is a difficult subject which stretches across several disciplines and traditions and the author has succeeded in bringing the most important people and points together. He pays attention to the common sense view about the self, what it feels like to be oneself. He looks at the traditional Christian view of the soul, as well as the Buddhist views. He also presents arguments and views from the history of ideas, from philosophy of mind. But then he also looks at psychology and brain science. He does not merely consult the literature, but has corresponded and/or interviewed many prominent scholars and not only those with whom he might agree. The book does provide an answer and does not just present competing viewpoints, but the answer does not close the conversation. In fact, it opens many future possibilities for thought and research. He provides a good bibliography to support his research and provides opportunity for further reading. The author makes it clear that the view of the self as an inner essence, or a soul within the body (the pearl view), is not persuasive anymore. The current view of the self as a combination, a construction is favoured, the so-called bundle view. I strongly recommend it as an introduction.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 5 July 2013
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This review is from: The Ego Trick (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed reading this book, it forced me to think about my own conception of the self and to develop these thoughts. Certain bits of the book were too long winded, which was a shame because it is an entertaining and thought provoking title.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for just tackling the problem! I haven't ..., 14 Feb. 2015
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Five stars for just tackling the problem! I haven't finished reading yet, and I'm still wondering why Avicena's argument from his thought experiment isn't dismissed as a non sequitur but, it is clear that it is going to be pleasurable and convincing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ego, 10 May 2014
By 
Jad Berrington "Juls Bee" (Staffordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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Some parts are rather wordy but some of the philosophy references are worthwhile- a dip in book rather than a straight beginning to end read
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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but very engaging introduction to contemporary thinking, 9 April 2011
By 
Angus Jenkinson "angusjenkinson" (Cambridgeshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ego Trick (Paperback)
Like Roger P. I agree that Baggini's book is relatively entertaining (within the confines of the subject and for those with an interest) and accessible in style and approach, and it gives a good account of many contemporary strands of thought on the vexed question of the self. Grayling rightly calls it an "entertaining and stimulating introduction" to the topic (FT, 9.4.11).

As a 'solution' to the problem it falls short. As Roger P. points out, it fails to take account of aspects of the larger set of issues and angles that would be needed for an adequate account, but it is an interesting and important contribution to the argument. One of its strongest points is one that takes up only a small part of the book - one chapter - in which he shows that increasing physical knowledge of the brain through neuroscience does nothing to explain or account for the self. Knowing that this or that centre is active in conjunction with other elements of the brain or nervous system gives nothing new to the question of what the self is that is not anticipated by Hume and others.

To answer this, in the first half of the book, in which Baggini says what the soul is not, he asserts that there is no immaterial soul. This is argued with the certainty of contemporary philosophy and science that this must be so and is therefore all the weaker from an objective perspective. It stands more as an article or of faith than of science or philosophy. From this premise it is not surprising that he also argues that no single part of the physical body can be deemed to be the seat of the self, since it is clear that all things mental, as with life, are more characteristic of pattern than place (at a bodily level) and non reductive.

Baggini then argues that self, and its terroir (thoughts, feelings) does have a form of real existence, notwithstanding; they are 'real things'. Of course this sets up an unresolved anomaly. He sees self as an active doing - most significantly in the creation of a narrative of self - that involves no one criterion of self but rather the interaction or dynamic of the many. Having said that, he also locates the narrative function in the left cerebral hemisphere where language formation is said to be situated.

Consequently it seems to me that while an engaging introduction the book falls short as a convincing final explanation. There is the conventional contemporary constraint to explain the psychological as not immaterial but also an honest recognition that it must be considered real, not explicable by the language and concepts of the physical. This tension is ultimately not resolved by a mechanism of narrative - the trick of the title - that essentially consists of these unreconciled elements.

A higher order of theory or explanation is needed, which simply returns us back to 'the self'.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but depressing, 16 Sept. 2012
By 
Ian Thompson (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ego Trick (Kindle Edition)
This is a readable and well argued introduction to philosophy of mind. Baggini dismisses notions of the soul, aligns with the 'bundle' theory of the self, finds accounts of reincarnation and resurrection implausible and seems to support a deterministic account of our mental lives. At the end I found myself thinking 'I hope he's not right about most of this'. Confirmed atheists of the Dawkins stamp will probably like it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting topic, 24 Sept. 2011
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I really like this book, it was really interesting to see how the author analysed the self theme under different points of view! I highly recommend it...
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book review, 5 Jun. 2011
By 
Ellen Lyons (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ego Trick (Paperback)
This book is an elaboration of the author's PhD thesis. Baggini is a young, populist philosopher and this book is a comparatively easy read and a fairly good introduction to certain aspects of the Philosophy of Mind.
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The Ego Trick
The Ego Trick by Julian Baggini (Paperback - 1 Mar. 2012)
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