Bruce Hood’s The Self Illusion is a fascinating examination of how the latest science shows that our individual concept of a self is in fact an illusion. 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 ever-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. Although this event is currently fully booked, there may be cancellations so check with the box office for the latest news.
Bruce Hood is Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Bristol. He is the author of The Self Illusion. He delivered the 2011 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. Visit his blog at brucemhood.wordpress.com.
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