Is our sense of self an illusion?

If an illusion is something that deceives us,
yes. Most of us feel we’re more than just a
body with a brain: we are someone who lives
inside our body and controls it. Yet this cannot
be true. The brain is a massively parallel
system with no central place where a self
could receive information or issue commands.
Different regions make decisions, inhibit
impulses, organise movements and control
emotions, and these all operate at once
without a central controller, some of them so
quickly that we become aware of what’s been
decided only after the action is completed. Yet
we still say ‘I decided to do this’ or ‘I wanted to
do that’. Our sense of a unitary ‘self’ that has
consciousness and free will may or may not be
useful – but it is certainly an illusion.


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