• The Ego Tunnel

  • The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self
  • By: Thomas Metzinger
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
  • Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (357 ratings)

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The Ego Tunnel

By: Thomas Metzinger
Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
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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

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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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

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

poppycock

where are the peers who should be vetting this writer's ideas before it is turned into a book?! this thesis is a matrix built on air and shadow being passed off as actual science. in addition to this nothingness, the writer returns us to the bad ideas of past chemical applications. better living through chemistry was duponts slogan from 1935-1986 with an increase in cancer and environmental pollution as the result. psychedelic experiments reached the heights in the 1960s with dead or brain dead folks taking the brunt of those "good times." the thalidomide birth defects (late 1950s) should be warning enough for the next century and a half! have we learned NOTHING?

and then there are the work's futuristic ideas ... based solely on the writer's imagination, not science ... not even hypothesis just absurd speculation. has anyone checked on this guys credentials?!

i'm especially disappointed because i was looking for an intelligent discussion of consciousness, the ego, and human nature. boy did i NOT get that hope fulfilled! this book was a total waste of my time, and the only audience for this book would have to be science fiction writers.

12 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
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

8 people found this helpful

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

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 people found this helpful

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

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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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.

1 person found this helpful

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

Excelent

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

1 person found this helpful

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

Mind boggling. Exciting

The brave new world of a consciousness revolution is beaconing. Enticing possibilities and dangers. Will you take the risk?

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Another breathless explanation for everything

Question: What does one get when one forces two natural enemies- neuroscience and phenomenology - together into a tiny space? Answer: Tunnel Vision.
There’s too much to complain about here in any useful detail. It maybe enough to say Metzinger’s vision - his definition of human consciousness - is too narrow, and too personal or subjective to be considered a product of science. Yet, the argument he makes is also ironically dismissive of the value of phenomenological experience. The brain is a filter that protects each of us from electromagnetic chaos is the claim (I buy this). The mind? Well, never mind. Semiotics - the tool of phenomenology - is worthless. The content of the unconscious- the content of dreams are worthless. The self-described psychonaught and soul traveler fails to mentions a thing about psychedelics. Yet he, somehow, manages to have seemingly countless out-of-body experiences without them (What?). The thing that bothers me most about these popular explanations for everything is how inelegant these arguments often are. This book is a product of engineering. You can almost see Metzinger pulling the levers of persuasion on every page. I might hope the final explanation for everything might feel more like an opening door- a revelation - when it arrives.