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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2009 Thomas Metzinger; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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." (Library Journal)
"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." (Booklist)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

non-specialist literature at its best

An intelligent, thought-provoking book from a philosopher who likes to conduct experiments. Written in a very understandable style, without shying away from difficult words: non-specialist literature at its best.

The narration is excellent: interesting, varied, with a good sense of distinction between main sentence and subordinate clauses and no hesitation before uncommon words. One of those audio books that makes me long for my commute.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Hasan
  • larchmont, NY, United States
  • 01-14-10

explorations on the margins of self

Strongly recommend this excellent work which brings modern neurobiological research and its philosophical implications.Reflections on broad spectrum which ranges From the formation of concsiousness to the rise of sense of self,future of sense of self and how this would play out in technology,economy and culture in near and distant future.This book is full of new ideas or new angles of looking at age old problems i,e consciousness,self,will and so on and so forth.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The Beginning of a Moral Storm

Lots of folks would be really angry if the scientific community said human beings were no more than very exotic machines. Yet as philosophers team up with neuro-scientists they are explaining the formerly unexplainable (perhaps spiritual) with measurable physical processes. To equate feelings with a chemical reaction in the brain is hard for some of us to believe. Yet what many humans believe about reality is also hard to believe. And so I found this book reached out to meet some of my own beliefs by treating philosophy and science less like oil and water.

It's hard to envision that all your reality is going on in your brain/mind based on a model you have evolved there from the many, many stimuli you've accumulated since birth. I can't share in your model but it's there in a tangible form of chemical and molecular configurations. But in very, very, very tiny ways neurobiologists are beginning to be able to read your mind/brain.

The Ego Tunnel reminds us that we are really living inside our heads because the flow of sights, sounds, feelings, etc. all end up in our brains where we manage it all into some sense (a model) of who we are, what is all about us and how we relate to it and them.

At this point in the book it's pretty easy to say, "So what." and switch to a murder mystery to listen to. But what I take away from this book is that you don't need more than a mixture of chemical elements to build a senescent being. This shakes up a lot of philosophical and spiritual thinkers who always added a non-material item to the physical ingredients that make up human beings. Can chemistry do what only spirit was supposed to be able to do?

Perhaps I am reading too much into the Ego Tunnel but I kinda like the ideas it is investigating.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 12-14-09

Technology and the Future Economy

This is another of many books considering where technology is taking us and what the future economy might look like. Globalization, collaboration, telecommuting, outsourcing - its all here.

This book is a thought experiment which raises a number of interesting implications. It is well written and well read. Readers new to the topics covered will be well served, but it would be wise to follow on with other volumes covering similar subjects from other perspectives.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

"I know what you have been reading."

I hope evermuch that the text is filled with references, as otherwise this is a summary of namedrops and buzzwords from oher popular texts. He flies across traditional issues without conclusion, or worse, into simple dogma of the inevitablity of the rule of neuroscience. He goes apeshit on our limited senses, while discounting features such as our incredible pitch discrimination. Complains of scattered data but doesn't realize he's describing the missing operating system. Oddly admits viability of Mysterian acount. Simply discard all concepts of subjectivity, consciousness and mind in favor of materialism, full stop. The payoff? nothing less than the NCC to the entire universe. Absolute determinism. You don't exist.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

fantastic book, extremely insightful.

fantastic book, extremely insightful. loved the author. I had heard him in talks before on YouTube, which lead me to this book, which I loved. a little hard to follow at times, but well worth the effort!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very nice

This book pauses a lot of interesting questions on the way we understand our consciousness.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • Wherever Carmen Sandiego is.
  • 04-26-17

Good with a few caveats

An interesting foray into Consciousness studies, and definitely worth the listen for his perspective on the self, ideas of evolution, artificial intelligence, lucid dreaming and Altered States. However, Thomas Metzinger, a German philosopher, all too frequently throughout his argument of consciousness alludes to notions that derive from the enlightenment or Rene Descartes in his quest for an increasing rationality of human beings, and occasionally saying some quite offensive, colonizing remarks on indigenous societies and religion, especially in his concluding remarks about consciousness, and he fails to take the hard problem seriously because he thinks of consciousness as a virtual Oregon, and that phenomenal state-space is somehow fully replicable by the brain and represents fully what Consciousness is. It is clear that his religion is indeed philosophy and science, but he would have done better to be cognizant of his position and not fall into the same rationalist seeking explanations as have many others before him. Still a good book.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome

Still a way ahead of time. The Ego tunnel is a metzingers tour de force. Highly recommended, if you can handle it

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jay
  • Tennessee Colony, TX, United States
  • 09-16-12

Everything about this book sounds good...but...

What did you like best about The Ego Tunnel? What did you like least?

I try and finish a book even if I don't like it too much. However, I gave up on this book at the end of part 1, making it one of the few books I've purchased and not finished.

The subject matter is interesting. The reader did a good job. Based on my recent reading history, this should have been a four or five-star read for me.

The book is very technical and moves at a fast pace, and for some reason, it is like there are no points made...at junctures in the book where there should have been more of a point made, in my opinion.

I don't mind technical, it is one of the reasons I picked this book, because I wanted it to be scientific. But, there is something about the pace of the book, the jargon used, and the lack of solid conclusions that made this a very hard book to focus on. If words went in my ears, it was translated to something like, "blah, blah, blah."

A battle of (free) wills? I did really try to follow this book, but it was like that little man in my head kept whispering, "turn it off."

Note that I did give it three stars, because it isn't a total waste of time. Several areas were covered that made me want to explore them deeper in the future.



How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Slow it down a little bit, and make a little more effort at actually making a point instead of just presenting information at breakneck speed.

3 of 12 people found this review helpful