‘The Self Illusion’ is Revealed Today – A Dangerous Book?

To coincide with the broadcast of the Christmas Lectures, my UK publishers are giving away a free electronic extract of my new book, “The Self Illusion” today on amazon today. If you have an iPad or a Kindle, then you can read the opening chapters and a later one about the way we represent our selves on the internet.

I think that the message of “The Self Illusion” is going to be very controversial and upset a number of people. I already know that some colleagues disagree with the premise. In effect, I am challenging the idea that we are autonomous individuals but that rather we are a product of the history and influences of those around us.

The notion of no self will be familiar to Buddhists and philosophers alike. Buddha of course, taught that the path to enlightenment required attaining ‘annatta’ (no self) and Hume argued that there was no single core self but rather a bundle of experiences and sensations. There are not many neuroscientists who disagree with this as we are constantly reminded that the experience of the self is a product of the brain and as such, is an emergent property out of a constellation of separable processes – processes that can fail and fragment revealing the composition of the self.

I think the controversial aspect of the denial of a self is the implications and ramifications of this idea. However, there are many aspects of human experience that are similarly more apparent than real. Just because something is an illusion – not what it seems- that is no reason to try to ignore it. After all, it is there for a reason. We interact with individuals and selves – not apparitions and collective histories that define who someone is. And of course, the greatest illusion is the self illusion. Even when you know this, you cannot get rid of your self.

66 Comments

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66 responses to “‘The Self Illusion’ is Revealed Today – A Dangerous Book?

  1. Ooh! Are you available for an interview about it?

    • brucehood

      Alas not yet… I am still in Ri mode but will be happy to talk about it in April when the book is published in full. I am hoping that it is published in Australia as well. So far it is UK, US, Canada, Israel and South Korea – those Koreans love their philosophy!

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  3. mcb

    While uncomfortable with (though resigned to) the premise, I look forward to the real live print edition. Congratulations!

  4. Zuleika Brown Yanez

    Thank you for the free sample – an interesting read – look forward to reading the full book on publication.

    Also a big thank you for the RI lectures – my children were in the audience and thoroughly enjoyed them.

  5. Sounds very interesting. Certainly our brains are only capable of so much, therefore we are limited in our understanding of the world, ironically, by our physical composition. So where does this leave us within our respective ecosystems? Are we part of our planet’s biosphere, or are we on our own, useless in a biological sense but useful in that we may discover Higgs boson or other universes? And even that is a philisophical question, I suppose.

  6. I’ll be interested to read this book in full…

    Out of intrigue, how do you see your ideas of the self in relation to people with autistic spectrum disorder, who have difficulties mentalising and relating to other people? How do you think this influences their sense of self?

    By the way, I’m enjoying your Christmas lectures :)

    • brucehood

      Great question & yes I do cover this briefly in the book. I think they must have a different version of the self in terms of the narrative of their lives (the ‘me’) as well as others, but not necessarily in the experience of current self (the ‘I’)

  7. Cool. I’ve downloaded it now, thanks Bruce

  8. Sholeh Azimfar

    I am looking forward to reading this book when published.
    I wonder how your ideas can impact human relationships?!
    Thank you for brilliant Christmas lectures.

  9. Zuleika Brown Yanez

    I’d be interested to hear how strong is the philosophical side of your thesis. Your book seems aimed at a wide audience but your philosophical references indicate you’ve gone into the philosophical side in a lot of detail.

    Do you favour a strong eliminative thesis as the Churchlands? Or do you favour a more general approach of scepticism to the existence of the self but without necessarily drawing any particular philosophical conclusions? Do you come down on any particular side later on in the book?

    Forgive me if I’ve missed or overlooked something in reading the sample extract.

    My own opinion is I’m tempted to agree with a strong materialist thesis but have some self-doubt as to my understanding of the counter arguments – this leaves me doubtful and as yet not entirely decided.

    Hope this isn’t too irksome a question!
    Best regards

  10. I’m really looking forward to this book.

    It’s been one of my bugbears for a while that people still insist on believing in the soul and spirits, and thinking there is some ethereal ‘I’ that inhabits the body.

    Science disproved the notion of the soul decades ago – for example by showing that peoples personalities can change when a particular part of the brain is damaged.

    Why do you think neuroscientists don’t come out and dispel these myths more often? The reality is far more interesting, incredible & magical than believing in something that isn’t true. Your book will be an important step in that direction.

    Thank you for the amazing Christmas lectures too. It’s so important that children are exposed to these ideas and you delivered magnificently.

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  12. Anonymous

    BIG thanks for your christmas lectures !! i don’t understand every word but i ‘ve got the meaning !! i’d like to have the same program in France !! Amitiés .Nathalie

  13. Just finished the free sample – a fascinating read

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  15. Bruce – this looks great. Are we in the same territory as Tor Norretranders’ book ‘The User Illusion’? Can’t wait.

    BTW: I run a sensory innovation business in Asia and we have strong views about ‘traditonal market research’ and how it consistently misunderstands what it is to be human and refuses to recognise the illusiory nature of consciousness. I mention this because it might be the topic for another book: ‘The Trouble with Market Research’ ? Perhaps a more riveting title can be found…!

  16. Anonymous

    I am reading the extract of Self Illusion on my ipad and enjoying t. Will there be an ebook version available for the whole book?

    • brucehood

      Yes indeed and not only will it be an ebook, it will be more accurate than the printed version as there were some errors that did not get corrected in the print. It should be available on publication in the UK next week. but thank you in advance
      best
      Bruce

      • Bubble

        What about as an e book in the US? I only buy ebooks now.
        I read your interview with Sam Harris and I thought it connects with some weird idea I had and could not express. I thought that as long as I am alive I can be me, but that after I die I could be just anybody since I am only an illusory self based on my experiences ( for short). After I read the interview, in googled “self illusion” and found connections with Buddhism, but really my idea ( and fear) is not about reincarnation, it is about being another self, like just another bubble in a bubble foam. If death deorives me of my “self”, i.e., the bubble I currently occupy, then I can be another bubble. Fear because most selves have miserable experiences :)

  17. student84

    Hi, was at your Self Illusion talk on Friday and bought the book – you mention above that there are errors in the printed edition – will the errata be listed on the blog at some point for those of us who are non-Kindle owners? Would be very grateful for this…

  18. “I am challenging the idea that we are autonomous individuals but that rather we are a product of the history and influences of those around us.”

    Although it’s important to challenge the idea of the immaterial self or soul (the “pearl view” of the self as Strawson calls it) and draw out the progressive and humanistic implications, it’s equally important not to forget that we’re just as real and causally effective as our history and our influences. We are *not* puppets, as Sam Harris suggests in his book on free will, rather we remain autonomous individuals. It’s vital that we not make this mistake, otherwise we risk being demoralized, see http://www.naturalism.org/demoralization.htm

    • brucehood

      Well I guess that there is a difference between the consequences of accepting the self illusion (which BTW is going to really tough to do) which some may regard as morally corrosive as you suggest, and what I see as the logical problem (unless you believe in a spiritual homunculus) which would arise if there were truly an “autonomous individual”

      • If you define autonomous as being independent of cause and effect, then of course there are no truly autonomous individuals. But that would be to use a supernatural, impossible-to-meet standard of autonomy, and why use that? Instead, there’s a meaningful and achievable standard of autonomy that’s compatible with determinism, namely being able to act in accordance with our own interests, plans and desires, not at the behest of someone else’s agenda. Most of us are lucky enough to meet that standard, at least in an open democratic society. So I don’t see exploding the self illusion as a threat to real autonomy, rather more of a means of achieving it, see for instance http://www.naturalism.org/Threethreats.htm

        Btw, thanks for writing this book and getting the word out about who we really are!

        • Hi, Tom. You write, “…there’s a meaningful and achievable standard of autonomy that’s compatible with determinism, namely being able to act in accordance with our own interests, plans and desires, not at the behest of someone else’s agenda.” While one may choose to do as one wishes, what one wishes is predetermined by the unnumbered and unnoticed contingencies that impinge upon us, by our genetic endowment, biography, and so on. One’s “interests, plans and desires” are not without determinant antecedents that are not of one’s choosing. As the work of Daniel Kahneman and others has shown, we are so very suggestible that the idea of being uncaused causers, as Eagleman puts it, is untenable. I find Harris’ argument that in order for us to be in control of our thoughts we would have to think them before we think them to be powerful. We cannot tell where our thoughts come from. How could we be in control of them? It is difficult to swallow all of this because it defies our sense of agency and power and our moment to moment experience of being in control. This makes some people very uncomfortable. Many people enjoy the idea and experience of being in control. Some people are desperate for it and may be incensed by the idea that they lack control of the world, and much moreso that they lack control of themselves. So the argument goes on and on.

  19. I have just read your book and found it really interesting. Thank you :) I now have a question, about the self and anorexia nervosa (AN), which you may or may not be able to address…

    I developed AN in the 1970s, as a 12-year old child. Despite the axiomatic assumption of many that AN is ’caused’ by the media and pressure on young girls to be thin, this was not my experience whatsoever. I was a child who had never read a glamour magazine in my life and who began to over-exercise and restrict food because of intense anxiety (about many things). I had a history of (undiagnosed) OCD from age 4-5 years and I do feel that AN and OCD are strongly related, at least in terms of the way that the person experiences these illnesses.

    Now, when a person develops AN, their personality changes and they lose their sense of self. Despite now being an ‘old fart’ in my mid 40s, and recovered from AN, I do recall very clearly, that as a 12-year old I suddenly felt a loss of freewill (over what I ate and how I lived my life) and a gradual loss of identity. I had severe OCD-like thoughts that ‘instructed’ me to restrict food and to exercise in a very ritualistic and compulsive manner. These compulsive behaviours led to severe weight loss, and the more weight I lost, the less I recognised my reflection in the mirror. This disturbance of self and body image was caused by the AN, rather than vice versa. That is, I didn’t start to restrict food because I perceived myself as overweight.

    When a person has AN, they feel incredibly confused about who they are, and it is common for the person to feel that they are the illness itself – and if they get rid of the illness they will have no self. A number of studies undertaken at the Institute of Psychiatry suggest that individuals with low-weight AN have a comparable cognitive profile to individuals with high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). With re-feeding, the ‘old self’ eventually returns, in those who actually are lucky enough to recover from AN.

    I was wondering if you might be able to explain these changes in accordance with your theory of the self-illusion? I am aware of neuroscience studies which have revealed significant abnormalities in sensory processing and interoceptive awareness in individuals with low-weight AN. My argument, as a biomedical scientist and former sufferer of AN (and OCD) is that AN is not wilful behaviour. It is not a choice (or a wish to look like a model – *sigh at the ignorance*), but an abnormality of brain functioning, that is most likely triggered by energy deficit; perhaps during a critical period of brain development.

    Thanks…

  20. brucehood

    Well I am not an expert in AN but if I may, I would like to speculate. Each of us has a variety of influences and activities that constitute a large part of our identity either in terms of the amount of time & effort they occupy or the extent to which they define us. I could well believe that illness could occupy a person or the way they are perceived by others (some ostensible problem, disfigurement, mobility etc) to the extent that they become ‘defined’ This is one reason that it is no longer acceptable to talk about disabled people, or autistic individuals. It is people with disability or people with autism – a shift from being defined by the illness. I understand this perspective. I do think that there is incredible pressure to have a persona that is acceptable to society as a whole and so any deviations (through illness or otherwise) is in danger of threatening the self unless one can reframe their identity to incorporate that deviation in a way that they think is positive.

    • Thanks for your reply… Yes, that makes sense. I, too, feel that it is inappropriate that a person may be defined by the presence of an illness.

      The problem for many sufferers of AN, however, is that their illness is egosyntonic. Or perhaps I should say ‘apparently egosyntonic’ – because I personally believe that the reluctance to eat and gain weight in AN is linked to fear rather than a belief that the condition is desirable. Some people with AN say they are proud of what they have ‘achieved’ through extreme weight loss and are proud of themselves. Self-perception becomes very distorted and I would be interested to know what is happening in the brain to create this illusion.

      Cheers!

  21. Phoebe

    Bruce…have you read any of the J. Krishnamurti books or seen the DVD’s – especially the ones with physicist David Bohm ?
    The issue of ‘psychological time’ is what J. Krishnamurti discussed for over 60 yrs in various talks around the world and with other philosophers and scientists. He died in 1986 at age 92.

    Phoebe & Richard Pfeiffer
    Oxford, MD

  22. brucehood

    Hi Phoebe,
    No I haven’t. I’ll check them out
    B

  23. amaifreeman

    Reblogged this on NeuroPolitics and commented:
    I am so excited to read this book! I’m dying to get my hands on it. I am eager to see some extrapolations on this controversial premise.

  24. Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

    I’ve only just started the book, but it’s already a great read. Are you saying there is no errata page? Because those 2500 patterns of 500 binary neurons really needs to be erratified.

    ~~ Paul

    • brucehood

      Well that is one that is not an error according to my computational neuroscience chums – 2 to the power of 500 – whereas the number of atoms in the universe is estimated to be 10 to the power of 81. That is the number of potential patterns not the number of actual patterns.I double checked with Dan Wolpert at Cambridge to make sure that it was correct. But there are errors that hopefully a 2nd edition will allow me to correct.

  25. Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

    2^500 is certainly correct, but the book states:

    … the total number of different patterns is 2500, a number that exceeds …

    No superscript, just 2500. That’s a mighty small number.

    ~~ Paul

  26. Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

    Page 78, lines 9/10 read: “… back into the lab, he starts start kicking much faster …”

    Is there somewhere else I should send errata?

    ~~ Paul

    • brucehood

      No just keep them coming Paul… As I said, if it make a second edition I will try and get a good proof reader!

      • Kathy Erwin

        Who was responsible for the proofreading? Has he/she been fired? Is this lack of quality to be expected from the publisher?

  27. Bruce I am reading your book and find it amazing! It was gifted to me on Fathers Day…..

    I was curious what do you make of the 7 Second Delay in terms of our conscious perceptions of thoughts arising and being perceived in general some 7 seconds after they arise at the subconscious level? See April 2008 Issue of Nature.

    Have you been familiar with the Non-Dual Philosophy of India? Advaita that establishes that there is no personal self or individual self and that such a notion is a mere Illusion?

    Thank you and great work Bruce! Namaste

    • Haynes wasn’t the first neuroscientist to explore unconscious decision-making. In the 1980s, Benjamin Libet, a neuropsychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, rigged up study participants to an electroencephalogram (EEG) and asked them to watch a clock face with a dot sweeping around it. When the participants felt the urge to move a finger, they had to note the dot’s position. Libet recorded brain activity several hundred milliseconds before people expressed their conscious intention to move.

      Libet’s result was controversial. Critics said that the clock was distracting, and the report of a conscious decision was too subjective. Neuroscience experiments usually have controllable inputs — show someone a picture at a precise moment, and then look for reactions in the brain. When the input is the participant’s conscious intention to move, however, they subjectively decide on its timing. Moreover, critics weren’t convinced that the activity seen by Libet before a conscious decision was sufficient to cause the decision — it could just have been the brain gearing up to decide and then move.

      Haynes’s 2008 study modernized the earlier experiment: where Libet’s EEG technique could look at only a limited area of brain activity, Haynes’s fMRI set-up could survey the whole brain; and where Libet’s participants decided simply on when to move, Haynes’s test forced them to decide between two alternatives.

      ……………….
      Some researchers have literally gone deeper into the brain. One of those is Itzhak Fried, a neuroscientist and surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel. He studied individuals with electrodes implanted in their brains as part of a surgical procedure to treat epilepsy4. Recording from single neurons in this way gives scientists a much more precise picture of brain activity than fMRI or EEG. Fried’s experiments showed that there was activity in individual neurons of particular brain areas about a second and a half before the subject made a conscious decision to press a button. With about 700 milliseconds to go, the researchers could predict the timing of that decision with more than 80% accuracy. “At some point, things that are predetermined are admitted into consciousness,” says Fried. The conscious will might be added on to a decision at a later stage, he suggests.

      • brucehood

        Well these are interesting issues I cover in the chapter on Free Will but I am assured that Libet’s results stand as they have been replicated by a colleague, Patrick Haggard at UCL who I trust and know is a good experimentalist.

  28. Jim

    Bruce, anyone who claims the self is illusory, in the style of Dr Johnson, I would administer a sharp kick to the vulnerables, with “I refute your arguments thus”! The point is that each perception (e.g. in Hume’s bundle) has a subjective pole, an “I” integral to it. “There is pain”, makes no sense without a subjective “I” component who feels the pain. Perhaps a stream or river of qualia is a better analogy than a bundle, because it is dynamic, yet constant. Yes, a static “core self” is a nonsense.

    Dan Zaharvi shows how explanations of the preflective “minimal” self (I) as just narrative suffer from an infinite regress problem. Who is understanding the narrative? There must be another “I” to hear the narrative, but if that is itself just another narrative, there must be yet another “I” hearing that narrative… Etc.

    And why an “illusion”, rather than a central mechanism of the brain? I like Pinkers idea of a hierarchy of decision making daemons, with gradually increasing awareness towards the apex. This explains Libet’s results – we are our whole brain after all with “I” being a hierarchy of increasing awareness and executive function. Merleau-Ponty’s “sedimentation” or even Heidegger’s ready at hand “coping” could be explained as lower level daemons at work.

    Finally, I think there is a lot of linguistic confusion in the use of “self”, as our pre-reflective subjective “I” self, and “me” self as identity. The latter is a construct, an image – if you like, an illusion. The former is an irreducible pole of experience. If there is something it is like to be (e.g. a bat), that something’s experiences must have a subjective pre-reflective “self” component.

    • Lee

      Actually, “there is pain” makes a lot of sense, subjectively speaking. Awareness of pain simply emerges into consciousness. One does not observe the “I” from the outside to notice pain inflicted on it.

      The “I” is redundant because obviously the one talking about pain is talking about pain being generated by that body which is doing the talking.

      • Jim

        “There is pain” (like “there is a tree”) makes no sense, because it misses an essential pole of the experience – the subjective nature of pain. Pain is not an object in the world, so to exist at all, it must be experienced by an “I” – a subject, who is therefore implicit.

        • Lee

          You never experience “objects in the world”, you ALWAYS experience them subjectively, after the sensory data has been unconsciously pre-processed by the brain (you are never aware of how light-waves get transformed into what emerges into consciousness as the “image” of a tree).

          In fact, as Bruce Hood and Daniel Dennett have argued, that image is less detailed as we are led to believe. So apart from the self illusion, there’s also the perception illusion.

          When you see a tree, you don’t have a pixel-perfect reproduction of the object, just a vague sense of recognition, with details coming in to consciousness as the eyes focus on different parts.

          From a subjective point of view, there is no difference between the perception of pain and the perception of an external object. You are only aware of the difference conceptually, as you think about the source of each sensation.

          Only then you attribute the sensation of pain to a “self” and the sense of recognizing a tree to a real tree, “out there”.

          • Jim

            Indeed “does a tree falling make a sound when no one is there to hear it”?

            However, if I point to a tree, you can see it too, but if I point to a pain, only I can experience it. My experience of the tree is not the tree! Perception thus must have two poles – subject (I) and object (the pain or our experience of the tree).

            • Lee

              “If a fat girl falls in the woods, do the trees laugh?”

              What can be said is that perception elicits a response, and it is that complex response which we conceptualize as being the reaction of the subject (the “perceiver”).

              But it does not follow that what we would label a “perceiver” is, in fact, a unitary, coherent “entity”.

            • Jim

              Well, yes, I agree Lee, like any dynamic process, the self changes, and (thinking of Pinkers integrating hierarchy), it’s probably more like a parliament than a single voice. But unless I suffer from DID, or have severed my corpus callosum, I am an integrated unified entity – a different unified entity from say you, or her.

  29. Lee

    Not having yet read the book, let me just offer some personal thoughts on the topic. I believe the illusion of a “self” illusion is representative for the general way in which our brain interprets the world, in terms of “entities”.

    This goes back all the way to classical philosophy, with the dichotomy of Being vs change. There were those who believed the elemental nature of reality was Being, a static perfection (this was ultimately incorporated in Western Christianity and Hellenistic Judaism as an abstract transcendent God), and those who saw the world in terms of constant change (Heraclitus was one, but Atomists in general viewed the world this way).

    Modern science supports the view that the world consists of the interactions of smaller bits, not of perfect, static substances. But our brain still falls prey to it’s intuitive ways of analysis and still views the world in terms of “objects”, “things”, “entities”.

    What are mere concepts, vaguely identified through heuristics, are still thought of as having an underlying metaphysical reality.

    Just take the concept of “intelligence”.
    There are some who still discuss this in terms of “how do we define intelligence?”. This implies that the concept of intelligence has an underlying reality, and isn’t just a concept we use to label certain kinds of behaviors.

    The self is also such a concept. People talk about the “true self”, about one’s “real self”. As if there is an underlying, static, indivisible entity that is the source of the behavior.

    They keep trying to look for the emperor underneath all the clothes. But there is no emperor, there are just clothes!

  30. Jim

    Just as we cannot normally see our own eye looking, yet it is the means for us to see, the subjective pole is our means of perception, we experience “from” the pole of our subjective self, which is in ground. It is the objective pole (the pain or the tree) that is figure. This is Merleau-Ponty’s “Chiasm” that we simultaneously touch and are touched.

    From that pre-reflective subjective “self”, we build a narrative “self”, about who we are, I think Bruce, in his introduction confuses these, by saying that the self (by which he means identity) depends on other people, and is therefore an illusion.

    Stephen Pinker solves the “homunculus” infinite regress problem Bruce refers to in Ch1 if this “self” is the top of a pyramidal networked hierarchy of functional modules whose job is to integrate multiple inputs from lower down in the hierarchy. Our sense of a being a unified “self” in any moment comes from the integrating function of the module at the apex of the hierarchy.

  31. Anonymous

    Bruce, is it possible that you are self-obsessed?

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  33. Suze

    are false memories responsible for nostalgia and the elderly always looking back to the ‘good old days’ through rosy coloroued spectacles and finding it far better than it is now from weather, to world peace, to politics to greater freedom, to prices, to holidays, to social life and social support, family ties, less crime, fewer rules, the family, etc.? …or is it the reality and things really were better than than they are now? It also seems to have something to do with the the elderly with their ability to adapt to change and coping.

    • brucehood

      Not so much false memories but response biases to interpret more favourably the past and ignore so much of the negative aspects

  34. Jim

    I really recommend Dan Zahavi’s “Subjectivity and Selfhood” as a complimentary book to “The Self Illusion”, but arguing why the self is not an illusion. IMHO it’s a “must read” for anyone interested in this area.

    Relevant to the above question from Suzy, is Zahavi’s short paper “Self and other: The limits of narrative understanding” (which is available on the www). Again its well worth a read – he dissects the arguments so skilfully.

  35. Suze

    still fascinated by the book and am now nearing the end.

    Have just read about the Google Filter Bubble and it occurred to me that it appears counter productive in the sharing of information. Often people commenting on something will tell others to Google a theme for further information, but if everybody is getting different webpages this is unhelpful.

    with all the promises of IT enhancing our lives, apart for its usefulness and interest in many areas, it also occurs to me that it is not a natural phenomenon like socialisastion, sports, enjoying ones natural surroundings, etc. and can be a major source of stress and lead to social isolation in real terms, I wonder whether it isn’t this which has contrubuted to the rise in our hectic life styles, increased frustration, distress, and mental disorders such as depression? I find unless used wisely and with a lot of self control it is very envasive of privacy and leisure time which could, and used to be, perhaps used more productively and rewardingly.

    At the moment I have loads of TED talks open on my computer to listen to later as it is difficult to download and save them. When I woke up my computer from hibernate last time they all started up together – just like the Tower of Babel and I had to go through each one to pause it!. It occurred to me that this cacacophy must be rather like that associated with those who suffer from the symptoms associated with psychosis Although fortunely, in this case, unpleasant as this brief expeience was the voices were very firmly outside my head and I am fortunate in being able to make this distinction! I know this as I once went to an exhibition on mental illness where you could enter a tent with voices all around to give visitors this sensation.

    • Jim

      Suze, your experience of many disowned voices simulating mental illness is an excellent example as to the differences between a healthy and psychotic “self” process. It reminds me of “Dialogic Self Theory”, based on the ideas of Bakhtin – where the “internal” voices of self and of “external” culture are considered interdependent, and therefore indistinguishable. Yet there clearly is a difference between the coherence of our normal “many thoughts” and the incoherence of psychosis.

      The attempt to deconstruct the individual “self” as an illusory concept dates back to Marx, who famously said “Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.”

      Of course all these attempts assume a “blank slate” on which society writes, and fail to take account of our genetic predispositions, which make the unique individual “self” central to the process of selective integration of some elements more than others from the surrounding culture, during development.

      The “filter bubble” effect is a good example where our initial (possibly innate) biases are magnified and fed back to us in a positive feedback loop. Thus, society (via the internet) colludes to reinforce our original predispositions, not shape them from scratch onto a blank canvas.

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