Where am I?

In his 2003 book, Being No One, Thomas Metzinger contends there is no such thing as a “self.” Rather, the self is a kind of transparent information-processing system. “You don’t see it,” he writes. “But you see with it.”

Read Thomas Metzinger on the nature of subjective experience here.

How does a self help deal with the knowledge of death?

Animals self-deceive, and they motivate by self-deceiving. They have optimism bias; just like human beings, different cognitive biases emerge. So we have to efficiently self-deceive. The self becomes a platform for cultural forms of symbolic immortality, the different ways human beings tackle the fear of death. The most primitive and simple, down-to-the-ground way is they become religious, a Catholic Christian, for instance, and say, “It is just not true, I believe in something else,” and form a community and socially reinforce self-deception. That gives you comfort; it makes you healthier; it is good at fighting against other groups of disbelievers. But as we see in the long run, it creates horrible military catastrophes, for instance. There are higher levels, like, for instance, trying to write a book that will survive you.

5 thoughts on “Where am I?

  1. Metzinger states that
    ‘there’s a long history of conscious self-models on this planet….One, for instance, is to control the body…A million times every day our immune systems says, “this is me” or “this is not me,” “kill or don’t kill,” “cancer cell” or “good tissue.’
    Is this really consciousness? Can I project my language onto a plant and say it is conscious?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The thing is that in answering to the question of what explains the evolution of the self, he seems to account for it as the evolution of biological functions of single organisms into complex ‘self-models’ found everywhere in nature (models like the immune system cells); or at least this is what I understand from his answer….

      But as you say, these are metaphors! so they do not explain the origin of this experience we call the self.


  2. “Theology and Science” has an article by Michael Shermer that may be of interest.

    The success of the Scientific Revolution led to the development of the worldview of scientific naturalism, or the belief that the world is governed by natural laws and forces that can be understood, and that all phenomena are part of nature and can be explained by natural causes, including human cognitive, moral and social phenomena. The application of scientific naturalism in the human realm led to the widespread adoption of Enlightenment humanism, a cosmopolitan worldview that places supreme value on science and reason, eschews the supernatural entirely and relies exclusively on nature and nature’s laws, including human nature.


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