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The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and…

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

by Thomas Metzinger

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326552,682 (3.8)4
Philosopher and scientist Thomas Metzinger argues that neuroscience's picture of the "self" as an emergent phenomenon of our biology and the attendant fact that the "self" can be manipulated--and even controlled--raises novel and serious ethical questions. If, as Metzinger argues, our conception of the self is a sort of tunnel-vision-like experience of the world, with little left in and much left out, can there be better or worse states of consciousness? And if so, what should we do to try to achieve them? Here, Metzinger outlines his vision of a moral philosophy of the min.… (more)

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Dieses Buch hab ich gedanklich in zu viele Einzelteile zerlegt, um zu wissen, wie es mir gefällt, Lesekreis ftw. – Spannend wird es im letzten Drittel. Neue Ideen konnte es mir immer wieder bieten. Und so. Recht lesenswert, denk ich wohl. [Elaborierte Meinungen zu Büchern auch ftw.] ( )
  kthxy | May 6, 2016 |
Metzinger, a scientist and Buddhist practitioner, brings clarity and insight to the topic of ego/brain/consciousness. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Zisi | Oct 18, 2010 |
A philosophy-of-consciousness popularization, quite readable, and taking account of some results from neuroscience and some societal applications. Metzinger acknowledges that a true understanding of consciousness is far off.
1 vote fpagan | Apr 13, 2010 |
Ego Tunnel is not an undertaking of ontologic philosophy, but rather an attempt to introduce and make a case for the metaphor of an ego tunnel (a refining of what Metzinger identifies as a “reality tunnel” having its roots in virtual reality technologies). He is acting the part of an interlocutor or integrator of neuroscientific discoveries with philosophy and ethics. It is a radical and world-shifting work for the vast majority of modern humanity. This book was not written for cognitive scientists so much as for the “naïve materialist” which includes just about everybody on the planet (including you and me when we habitually fail to maintain the extraordinary awareness that we are looking at the inside of our own heads when we look at “out there”).

It’s problematic to discern M.’s view of the Ultimate Reality. However, here’s something from the introduction which gives some insight.

"Throughout the book, I use one central metaphor for conscious experience: the “Ego Tunnel”. Conscious Experience is like a tunnel. Modern neuroscience has demonstrated that the content of our conscious Experience is not only an internal construct but also an extremely selective way of representing information. This is why it is a tunnel: what we see and hear, or what we feel and smell and taste, is only a small fraction of what actually exists out there. Our conscious model of reality is a low-dimensional projection of the inconceivably richer physical reality surrounding and sustaining us [my italics]. Our sensory organs are limited: they evolved for reasons of survival, not for depicting the enormous wealth and richness of reality in all its unfathomable depth. Therefore, the ongoing process of conscious experience is not so much an image of reality as a tunnel through reality."

I think it’s safe to say Metzinger is a materialist. He looks at consciousness as a bottom-up epiphenomenon, the child of the increasing complexity and centricity of blind evolutionary forces. But, now that it’s here (we’re here), the exploration of consciousness via chemically- or meditationally-induced altered states of consciousness, lucid dreaming and out-of-body experiences is the new order of evolution. And an ethics of what is “good” consciousness and how to instil that in our children is part and parcel of a responsible way forward.

"We may well develop better meditative techniques than the Tibetan monks discussed in chapter 2. If dream research comes up with risk-free ways of improving dream recall and mastering the art of lucid dreaming, shouldn’t we make this knowledge available to our children? What about controlled out-of-body experiences? If research into mirror neurons clarifies the ways in which children develop empathy and social awareness, shouldn’t we make use of this knowledge in our schools?"

Metzinger is not a reductionist; he wishes to co-opt evolution with scientific knowledge/exploration. He sees religion as a survival-based aspect of the ego tunnel (for purposes of helping humans to feel “at home” where it’s ipso facto impossible) and which is being rendered obsolete and displaced by neuroscience and books/information like his. He then goes on to address the issues of this “consciousness revolution” resulting in a new social context and need for developing a neuroethics of same. ( )
3 vote oroboros | Jul 21, 2009 |
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To Anja and my family
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In this book, I will try to convince you that there is no such thing as a self.
Consciousness is the appearance of a world.
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