58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Book on the Illusion of Self,
This review is from: The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity (Hardcover)
First of all I recommend you click on the "Search Inside" feature of this book on Amazon to get a preview of what's inside as well as the layout of the book from its table of contents.
I ended up really liking this book. It grew on me more and more as I progressed through it. It's one long argument and it is very persuasive. This particular book is not written as much in a popular manner as some others. For example I also just finished Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior and I also recommend that book. That one as well as many others are lighter reading and appeal more to a popular audience. To get the most out of this book you really have to think. The author Bruce Hood doesn't do all the work for you.
If you are after light breezy reading, then this book isn't for you. On the other hand it is not written in technical jargon and is completely accessible to intelligent readers. As I said however, you have to really put some rigorous thought into his arguments. The self is an illusion according to the author. It is very counterintuitive and difficult to get your mind around the idea. This book will help you progress towards that end. Highly recommended.
Even if you totally disagree with Hood's conclusion, you owe it to yourself to consider what he has to say about the matter.
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Initial post: Aug 14, 2012 11:24:07 AM PDT
Magne Kongshaug says:
I think you owe it to Yourself to realize that you are definitely not an illusion!
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2012 7:04:37 AM PDT
Christ said the only way to be a "godly" person is to admit you are not (Luke 18:10-14) in the same way the MMPI (grandfather of all personality tests) says the only way to be an "honest" person is to admit you are not (admitting you would steal if guaranteed no chance of getting caught).
Self-esteem development workbooks regularly define the term as "one's appreciative opinion of inner self-worth independent of the external world." This sounds good. It is also popular to suggest that all opinions are valid, but society often locks up people for inaccurate opinions (such as believing that they are Napoleon) when such are not consistent with the common measurable worldview. Critical thinking means superior Input-Processing-Output processing by identifying issues, assumptions (and presuppositions), appropriate criteria for judgment, and the ability to draw sound conclusions from the evidence. A sincere approach (and valid self-view) will thusly not validate all possible opinions (all questions are valid, even "am I Napoleon?"). What remains can be referred to as wishful thinking by peacocks or blowing smoke by weasels. Self-esteem, then, turns out to an accurate measurement only of poor critical thinking resulting in a false self-image, which is the basis for poor mental health.
For example, international studies of academic proficiency time after time show a strong correlation between high self-esteem and poor ratings. One study in 1986 showed that American children have the highest self-esteem and lowest skills in reading, writing, and math while Korean children have the lowest self-esteem and highest skills. Two studies in 2003 also showed a high correlation between self-esteem and criminal behavior (without any differentiation for the level of violence) with the second factor being low self-control. One of the study groups also found self-esteem positively correlated with drunken driving and racist attitudes. Roy Baumeister and Martin Seligman have also shown that high self-worth is often a marker for negative behavior, as diagnosed in sociopaths and drug kingpins. The braggadocio, "I'm fine just the way I am," plainly inhibits personal growth.
This is the basis for books like DiSalvo's What makes your brain happy and why you should do the opposite, Eric Wilson's Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy, and the online Anchor Journal article "The Crying Game" by Richard Bolstad (in which a good cry is shown to often be emotionally damaging). A May 20, 2011 Smithsonian magazine article even lists as the 8th greatest myth about the human brain being the idea we know what will make us happy (which in reality is but an illusion).
So, there is a lot of support for the idea you do owe it to yourself to realize you definitely ARE an illusion.
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