The Ego Tunnel

The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self
Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (307 ratings)

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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)

What listeners say about The Ego Tunnel

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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.

16 people found this helpful

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    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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Ego Tunnel

What an incredibly fascinating and thought-provoking book. I'm afraid of simplifying the ideas, but for the sake of those trying to decide if they're interested, it's basically saying that our sense of self is a symbolic representation, created by the brain in order to manage and interact with the world around us, which is also represented in the brain (as opposed to being a direct experience of reality, whatever that may be). "I" and "the world" are therefore nothing more than two extremes in a symbolic tunnel. By implication, the self isn't real--we don't actually exist, in other words, at least not in the way we think we do. The basic ideas are elaborated in chapters on dreams and lucid dreaming, artificial intelligence, psychoactive drugs, and experiments having to do with so-called phantom limbs. It ends with a forward-looking discussion about the ethics of consciousness. The narrator's voice and delivery are just right. He sounds like he could actually be a scientist or a philosopher--nerdy, but impassioned.

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    5 out of 5 stars

My absolute favorite book.

This book is a more more digestible version of Thomas' 2003 book "being no one" for general audiences and is absolutely my favorite book of all time. The basic premise is that "you" don't exist. He substantiates this claim with myriad citations from various neuroscience studies etc and is, overall, a great book for beginners who would like to learn about neuroscience or philosophy.

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    3 out of 5 stars

great topic

the author makes some opinionated statements that are based on scientific research. Author tries to balance scientific jargon with and everyday understanding of how the brain in the mind works. the author senses that ethics is the major frontier to investigate and create societally acceptable frameworks to address new problems stemming from our new capabilities and our new science of consciousness. the author speculates on a vision for the future which is necessarily individualist. I'm not sure this is supported. the author extrapolates on the benefits from an individual perspective, but doesn't give enough consideration to the benefits to society or the possible exploitations of the state. not does the author address the intellectual imbalance between human and digital forms of intelligence. can't blame him for that.

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    5 out of 5 stars

The title is great, the reading is not.

This is an extremely important (and difficult) book, made more difficult by the narrator, who seems to need to pause every two or three words, as if, there were, sentences full of, commas. Rarely is a sentence read through. In general, I have a problem with the narrators on Audible because they seem to think they're performing for me, and often with great pretension, when all that I really want is for them to read to me. (Sadly, my wife doesn't have the time to read all these books to me.) Audible should encourage more natural speech.

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    5 out of 5 stars

This is a dense book, but very worth it.

It might be better to get the print version so you can ponder the insight of Dr. Metzger's Scientific, philosophical, and meta physical ideas that form the foundation of his mind simulation /ego tunnel theory. That being said, I enjoyed the content of the book very much and learned a lot. well worth the effort.

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Excelent

I really enjoy The book and Metzinger's depth un every topic. It was a mind blowing audiobook, very well narrated