Thomas Metzinger makes a provocative argument: "he states that there is no such thing as a self, that there never has been, that there never will be".
Many philosophers, including David Hume, in the Anglo Saxon universe have said that for a long time. Who am I? The physical body certainly exists, the organism exists, but organisms are not selves. "He does not deny that there is a self-y feeling. He says he certainly feel like someone, but there is no such thing. There is neither a non-physical thing in a realm beyond the brain or the physical world that we could call a self, but there's also no thing in the brain that we must necessary call a self".
Buddhist philosophy had that point 2,500 years ago. So the idea that, as philosophers say, the self is not a substance, that it is something that can stay and hold itself in existence, even if the body or the brain were to perish is not a very breathtaking and innovative idea.
Metzinger states that "what we see and hear, or what we feel and smell and taste, is only a small fraction of what actually exists out there. Our conscious model of reality is a low-dimensional projection of the inconceivably richer physical reality surrounding us and sustaining us. Our sensory organs are limited: They evolved for reasons of survival, not for depicting the enormous wealth and richness of reality in all its unfathomable depth". Therefore, the ongoing process of conscious experience is not so much an image of reality as a tunnel through reality.
He says that "the experience of looking, of being directed to one's own feelings or to one's sensory perceptions of the outside world, creates itself an image. There is nobody looking at the image, it's like the camera is part of the picture or the viewing is itself a part of the process of viewing".
According to him "the self – the feeling of being a mental me in charge of the physical body – is a module within consciousness activated by your brain’s neural processing. The self is categorically not some substantial, essential invariant entity, like a soul or a spirit. He emphasizes that there are no such things as substantial selves. That instead, the self is a phenomenal (that is, experiential) construct that disintegrates entirely when you fall into a dreamless sleep, to be reactivated (usually in attenuated form) when you dream, and that reappears nearly instantaneously when you awake in the morning". The self is put online only when needed, is a part of a larger phenomenal reality generated by the brain as it represents the world and you in it.
Pencil sketch of two uniformed women.
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