Published: 1 March 2012
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 272 pages
The Ego Trick
Are you still the person who lived fifteen, ten or five years ago? Fifteen, ten or five minutes ago? Can you plan for your retirement if the you of thirty years hence is in some sense a different person? What and who is the real you? Does it remain constant over time and place, or is it something much more fragmented and fluid? Is it known to you, or are you as much a mystery to yourself as others are to you?With his usual wit, infectious curiosity and bracing scepticism, Julian Baggini sets out to answer these fundamental and unsettling questions. His fascinating quest draws on the history of philosophy, but also anthropology, sociology, psychology and neurology; he talks to theologians, priests, allegedly reincarnated Lamas, and delves into real-life cases of lost memory, personality disorders and personal transformation; and, candidly and engagingly, he describes his own experiences. After reading The Ego Trick, you will never see yourself in the same way again.
‘Baggini mashes up philosophy with psychology, Buddhism, neuroscience ... considers the role of memory, demolishes a theologian's (bad) arguments for the soul, and suggests that "multiple personalities" are like different "users" of a computer system ... We end with some entertaining reflections on medical immortality, "free will", and the "extended-mind thesis", which holds that your iPhone is part of you’ Steve Poole
‘Baggini works on a broad canvas, citing Hume and Locke alongside the reflections of sex-change patients and victims of dementia. While leaving the ego in pieces, he gives your mind a thorough workout’ Maggie Ferguson
‘Baggini's study of how identity is defined is lucid and backed by a wealth of anecdote’