Natasha Mitchell: So it's not a little man or woman inside our heads...
Thomas Metzinger: ...that looks at pictures. But the experience of looking, of being directed to one's own feelings or to one's sensory perceptions of the outside world, this is 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. This is how a first-person perspective emerges in our own case, the question is, okay, if it's not a thing, if it's not something in the brain, what kind of a process is it?
And I think it's a process, as philosophers say, of representing, that is of making an image, and that process is not there all the time. You know you have a conscious self in dreams, you have one in your waking life. During anaesthesia or during dreamless sleep there is no such thing as this process of self-ing, if I may call it like that.You are not a self! Bodies, brains and the nature of consciousness
Metzinger believes strongly that it is possible to solve the philosophical puzzle of consciousness only if we come to understand that to the best of our current knowledge there is no thing, no indivisible entity that is us, neither in the brain nor in some metaphysical realm beyond this world. Thus, highlighting a series of groundbreaking experiments in neuroscience, virtual reality and robotics, and his own pioneering research into the phenomenon of the "out-of-body" experience, Metzinger reveals how our brains construct our reality. According to him, our deepest sense of self is completely dependent on our brain functioning.All In the Mind blog post on The Ego Tunnel
The internal image of the person-as-a-whole is the phenomenal Ego, the "I" or "self" as it appears in conscious experience. The phenomenal Ego is not some mysterious thing or little man inside the head but the content of an inner image, namely, the conscious self-model. Metzinger claims that by placing the self-model within the world-model, a center, which we experience as ourselves, the Ego, is created. But, as Metzinger himself admits, one has to dissolve the problem of the subjectivity of consciousness if one wants to have the big picture. The ego tunnel is a consciousness tunnel that has evolved the additional property of creating a robust first person perspective, a subjective view of the world. It is a consciousness tunnel plus an apparent self. But, this is the challenge Metzinger takes in order to understand how a genuine sense of selfhood appears.
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