Is there a real you?
Eliane Mitchell

26 January 2018

Often we are told that spending time alone, meditating, taking the Meyers-Briggs test, or traveling abroad can aid us in our paths to "self-discovery." But to what lengths must any one person go to achieve this—to discover herself? And is there even such a thing as a "self" for one to discover? 

In this fascinating TEDTalk, British philosopher Julian Baggini challenges the conventional idea that there is a core or essential "self" for each of us to find. According to him, we are not beings who have (and are thus external to) our opinions, beliefs, and memories, but are ourselves a compilation of all that we "have" and "are" -- our physical bodies, cognitive capacities, beliefs, desires, sensations, and experiences. Even the brain is a mere collection of independent processes, but it is because of the way that these processes relate that we feel a sense of self, he argues. That is, we "feel" more unified inside than we really are -- a phenomenon he terms "The Ego Trick."

Check the TEDTalk, "Is there a real you?", out here:


Comments (3)

MJA's picture


Saturday, January 27, 2018 -- 7:54 AM

I found the infinite or

I found the infinite or immeasurable universe to be just me. =

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, January 29, 2018 -- 11:36 AM

Baggini's notion is similar

Baggini's notion is similar to others I have crossed paths with, but I don't think I have ever heard it called "The Ego Trick". Interesting characterization. I suppose I can agree with him in the following limited measure: We are what we learn. This is true of homo sapiens sapiens generally. On an individual level, most of us who have average intelligence and manage to live long enough eventually develop some sense of self. If that is a trick, we are all tricksters, mmm? Conscious mind is, as Harris has noted, all we've got. I have myself theorized about consciousness and how/why/when our species, above all others (that we know of) was the chosen one. I've several notions, but will not go into those here, other than to say the compilation idea is pretty solid in my own view. Immeasurable universes aside, we are pretty damn lucky! Synchronicity had some hand in it all and all of that took time. Seems to me...
Is what we learn the summation of our reality? Well, no----not exactly.

Samar Almont's picture

Samar Almont

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 -- 7:46 PM

You go back to the same trick

You go back to the same trick when you say 'our reality' We are never really aware of a total reality (I use this term loosely) that exists for every human being or even for my own self. If we don't know what reality is in its totality then we can't really explain how we arrive at something we don't know.