Where Thomas Metzinger’s books, The Ego Tunnel and Being No One are technical, brilliant accounts of the puzzling claim, “the self is an illusion”, Harris’ book dives into this question in a way accessible to everyone.
He makes as lucid and secular a claim for the centrality of consciousness as I’ve ever read, and despite whatever contentiousness surrounds his public persona, this is an important, wonderful read.
“The feeling that we call ‘I’ is an illusion. There is no discrete self or ego living like a Minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is — the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from yourself — can be altered or entirely extinguished. Although such experiences of ‘self-transcendence’ are generally thought about in religious terms, there is nothing, in principle, irrational about them. From both a scientific and a philosophical point of view, they represent a clearer understanding of the way things are…”