The Ego Tunnel

The Ego Tunnel

The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self

Book - 2009
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Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2009
ISBN: 9780465045679
Characteristics: x, 276 p. : ill. ; 25 cm


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Aug 03, 2017

I had very mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it's an excellent compilation of philosophical analyses of neurological experiments that pertain to consciousness, worth rolling up ones sleeves for a hard but rewarding slog.
One the other hand, it's thoroughly superficial. Consciousness, the quintessence of life, is a magic that doesn't fit into words, and correlation, despite the universal reductionist monism, doesn't prove causation.
What is consciousness? I'm not being coy here. Not, what is it equivalent to? That's what science does- tells you what how something relates to other factors. What's energy? MC2? That's what it's equivalent to, not what it IS. Nobody knows what energy is, or what consciousness is. So you won't learn what it is in this book. And the rest is only of specialist interest, surely.
If monism/reductionism is correct, if mind/consciousness is just the steam from the cooking pot of the brain, swell, this book is on the right track. That's a big if.
Consciousness studies have only recently been accepted into the fold of psychology so this book has the feel of a practitioner staking out his claim, to be a pioneer. I for one think life is a lot more complicated. Consider the case of the man who proved to be brainless... his only cerebral matter was a thin layer of tissue coating the interior of his skull. And he wasn't even retarded. This is utterly inexplicable by the theories and research propounded by Metzinger.
Even tho, admittedly, one can't blame a book on consciousness for not delving into how it manifests, that is, how crazy it gets, I'd like to recommend a book called Denial (..Self-Deception etc.) by Varki and Ajit, as the best book on this subject ever.
Still, lots of fun- engagingly written, as light as philosophical neuropsychology could hope to be- interviews, and even a mock interchange between a sentient AI and a human.
Plus the creepiest photo i've ever seen: of a cockroach with attached circuitry that steered the poor thing. As Frank Herbert ['Dune'] once said, "Love of progress is the method we use to mask our fear of the future.".
Finally, the best single source i've yet found for updates on the science of consciousness is the British New Scientist magazine. Its overall approach/writing style is a helluva lot more engaging than the remote nobody-in-here-but-us-godlike-impersonal-AI's style of Scientific American.


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Jun 17, 2016

_wordsmythe_ thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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