In this unique philosophical novel that I have chosen to read for my book report, “The Self Illusion” by Bruce Hood provides many fascinating detailed insights on his concept that our self is essentially an illusion. Hood is currently a professor of developmental psychology in society at the University of Bristol, and has done years of amazing research with universities such as Cambridge and University College London, he has been a faculty professor at Harvard, and now is a world-renowned expert on the brain. Throughout the novel he initially takes us inside our own heads, and thoroughly explains that our self -or what we refer to as “me” or “I”- is only a product of our mind, which in turn is a product of our brain working in coexistence with other brains around us, meaning that as the brain develops, so does the self. This self illusion that we all carry, depends on stored information that has been acquired during a lifetime of gathering and distributing information in the brain to those around us, and interpreting the reactions from the individuals we are surrounded by, which all continually shape us as human beings. He argues that the self illusion is an emerging property from the cluster of external forces that influence it, or in other words; you only exist as a pattern made up of all the other things in your life that shape you, such as how peers, friends, classmates, and family react to your everyday actions and how you constantly adjust the way you act to please those around you to feel socially accepted. In addition to his belief that the self is an illusion, he states an example that when we look at ourselves in a mirror reflection and alternate our gaze from one eye to the other, you cannot actually see your eyes moving because our brains hide their true operations from our consciousness and purposely eliminate the visual experience of seeing the world every time we move our eyes, making us essentially blind for an estimated 2 hours every single day, which further proves his point that the world that surrounds us is an illusion while we live in our own ‘matrix’ inside our head, with the belief that the world is stable and coherent.  While Hood’s points are well argued and presented, some can disagree with his arguments of the self being an illusion, and argue that he has presented the fallacy of disappointed expectations within his theory, where he states that the nature of the self is what a metaphysical account says that it is, then observes that there is little to no evidence supporting that account, and therefore concluding that there essentially is no self. As Hood argued, one’s real sense of self comes from engagement with the combination of the physical and social world, and that our sense of integration when externally focused is illusory, but is this really the truth? What if we reasonably claim that we don’t actually have a coherent experience of the self, but instead gain a sense of coherence from the stability we receive from our projects and other people’s expectations which, combined, hold us together? Many researchers views are that the constancy of the social self at work is what makes it possible for us to work together and complete projects with each other, and that the “self” exists independent of each individual mind.One of the significant topics raised in the book amongst many, is the explanation that our brains construct models of the external world, constantly weaving past experiences into a coherent story that allows us to interpret and predict what actions to take in the future, and yet, amongst all of that, our brains have to fill in missing information, rely on only a small sample of everything that occurs around us, and make educated guesses and predictions to build a model of reality for us to rely on. Philosophers still wonder how a physical system like our brain could ever produce all of these nonphysical experiences, such as the conscious self.Another interesting point made in the book is that in humans, we not only learn from others about the world around us, but we also learn to become a self in the process of watching, copying and understanding those around us, we come to discover who we are, as the illusion of the reflected self we experience and acknowledge is constructed by society, as well as those around us in social interactions. But are these interactions wholly reliable in shaping our self? A psychologist named Sir Frederic Bartlett, demonstrated that memories aren’t exact copies of the past events one encounters, but rather are reconstructed like stories. Our identity is the sum of our memories, yet our memories are easily modifiable and manipulated in our minds, which leaves us in a complex situation; without a sense of self, memories have no meaning, and yet the self is a product of our memories. In conclusion, I would certainly recommend this book as a reading for next years students because I believe it provides a substantial amount of informative as well as interesting elements of the self illusion, and other factors that contribute to creating the self in the social world, such as who influences your actions around you, and how we form our identity and the sense of individuality and self. Various significant points are discussed in this book, and I believe it’s important for students to read and interpret these new arguments and information on human development, and integrate them into their lives, or study them to further question and test the theory of the self illusion. Theories such as      are important to acknowledge to begin understanding the complex brain, and further continue studying the self and understanding human behaviours and thought processes.

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