The Self Illusion: Why There is No 'You' Inside Your Head (Extract)
By Bruce Hood
A fascinating examination of how the latest science shows that our individual concept of a self is in fact an illusion.
This is an extended extract from The Self Illusion: Why There is No 'You' Inside Your Head, available 19 April 2012.
Most of us believe that we possess a self - an internal individual who resides inside our bodies, making decisions, authoring actions and possessing free will. The feeling that a single, unified, enduring self inhabits the body - the 'me' inside me - is compelling and inescapable. This is how we interact as a social animal and judge each other's actions and deeds. But that sovereignty of the self is increasingly under threat from science as our understanding of the brain advances. Rather than a single entity, the self is really a constellation of mechanisms and experiences that create the illusion of the internal you.
We only emerge as a product of those around us as part of the different storylines we inhabit from the cot to the grave. It is an every changing character, created by the brain to provide a coherent interface between the multitude of internal processes and the external world demands that require different selves.
Bruce Hood is currently the Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Bristol. He has been a research fellow at Cambridge University and University College London, a visiting scientist at MIT and a faculty professor at Harvard. He is an internationally recognised authority on child development and supernatural thinking, a regular speaker at international science festivals and is on the editorial board of The Skeptic magazine, alongside others including Brian Cox, Derren Brown and Stephen Fry. He has appeared regularly on TV and radio including 'The One Show', 'Start the Week' and 'Newsnight'.
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- Publication date:
26 Dec 2011
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