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The EGO Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self Hardcover – 24 Feb 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (24 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465045677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465045679
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,613,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Library Journal" "Metzinger's intended audience is the lay reader, and he does a superb job of presenting his theory and introducing philosophical issues related to consciousness.""Booklist" "Groundbreaking. This sophisticated understanding of the brain as an ego machine accounts remarkably well for the lived experience of being someone, a someone who transforms a bombardment of stimuli into a seamless present while still engaging in off-line planning for the future and reflection on the past.""Bookforum""Metzinger is crisp in his arguments and has a keen appreciation of essential ideas."

About the Author

Thomas Metzinger directs the Theoretical Philosophy Group at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, and is an Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Study. He is the former president of the German Cognitive Science Society and one of the founders of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness. He has written and edited eight books, among them "Being No One"; "Conscious Experience"; and "Neural Correlates of Consciousness." He lives in Germany.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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