Written on March 5, 2009
“Consciousness is the appearance of a world.”
That is the first line of the new book The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self by Thomas Metzinger (Basic Books, 2009).
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.