Sunday, December 30, 2012
The Ego Tunnel: the Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self by Thomas Metzinger
"In ordinary states of consciousness, there is always someone having the experience—someone consciously experiencing himself as directed toward the world, as a self in the act of attending, knowing, desiring, willing, and acting. There are two major reasons for this. First, we possess an integrated inner image of ourselves that is firmly anchored in our feelings and bodily sensations; the world-simulation created by our brains includes the experience of a point of view. Second, we are unable to experience and introspectively recognize our self-models as models; much of the self-model is, as philosophers might say, transparent.
Transparency simply means that we are unaware of the medium through which information reaches us. We do not see the window but only the bird flying by. We do not see neurons firing away in our brain but only what they represent for us. A conscious world-model active in the brain is transparent if the brain has no chance of discovering that it is a model—we look right through it, directly onto the world, as it were. The central claim of this book—and the theory behind it, the self-model theory of subjectivity—is that the conscious experience of being a self emerges because a large part of the PSM in your brain is transparent.
The Ego, as noted, is simply the content of your PSM at this moment (your bodily sensations, your emotional state, your perceptions, memo-ries, acts of will, thoughts). But it can become the Ego only because you are constitutionally unable to realize that all this is just the content of a simulation in your brain. It is not reality itself but an image of reality—and a very special one indeed. The Ego is a transparent mental image: You—the physical person as a whole—look right through it. You do not see it. But you see with it.
The Ego is a tool for controlling and planning your behavior and for understanding the behavior of others. Whenever the organism needs this tool, the brain activates a PSM. If—as, for in-stance, in dreamless deep sleep—the tool is not needed anymore, it is turned off. "
Man if I could ask anything of technology it'd be that blogger's compose page isn't useless (the line breaks don't correspond to the actual post) and it doesn't but a br-tag after posting an image automatically, and copy pasting from a PDF doesn't take over every line break meaning you have to reformat the entire block of text you post. It's almost 2013 let's make it happen :p