53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyable read but a glaring error
, 2 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The Self Illusion: Why There is No 'You' Inside Your Head (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading this book. It is well written and provides excellent stories and research that justify the point of the book that ultimately the self is an illusion. You will be thoroughly entertained and thought provoked by finding out why your identity is made up of a multitude of external and internal factors that you never knew could provide such an influence on who you think you are.
However this is a popular science book and not a journal based literature review and there are obvious instances where Bruce's personal opinions are presented without strong evidence and one could be forgiven for taken that as fact given the research he does display. For example when talking about free will he cites a well known study where the brain has already decided on the choice of pressing a button before the conscious mind has decided. This is great evidence to support an arguement against free will but then concludes that because he can plan for a future event that free will isn't always an illusion. Whether he is right or not is not the point but simply that he makes a conclusion without supporting literary evidence.
The glaring error that the book contains is simply this: Bruce assumes that a self illusion is a good thing. He somehow assumes that its those people with a strong sense of self that are better off. This is true for the minority of people who believe they are confident, smart, successful, or positive. But in my experience (and I have a lot!) is that most people's identity is negative and their sense of self is often seen as weak, unconfident, stressed, sad, unhappy and so on. Bruce doesn't acknowledge that a strong sense self can be bad as well as good. In fact his closing statement is that one needs a strong sense of self to survive. However the happiest free-ist people I know are those who have been liberated from 'their' self.
Conclusion: This is a great entertaining read with an abundance of fascinating research. Just be careful what conclusions are made! :-)
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