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The Ego Trick: In Search Of The Self

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  590 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
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 myst ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Granta Books (UK) (first published January 1st 2011)
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Tulpesh Patel
The Ego Trick* by popular philosopher Juilian Baggini is a highly-readable attempt at describing what makes you, you. Using a blend of anecdote, religious and secular philosophy and smatterings of neuroscience and neurology, he tries to answer questions that have plagued us as soon as we became ‘self’-aware: What is the ‘self’ that we are aware of? Where is it found? What exactly is it made of?

The first half of the book tries to get at what the self is by illuminating what it isn’t. Baggini uses
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Baggini's defense of the self as an embodied process—the bundle theory—is at once accessible and robust. He builds a compelling case for it utilizing methods that are quite distanced from the pure reasoning and thought experiments often used in academic philosophy. Taking off from "extreme" cases such as major brain trauma, gender dysphoria and social experiments—all which he claims provide more than enough evidence and variety to fill in for any of the classic and all-too-reducible thought expe ...more
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars. Very interesting concepts about how & what to think of ones self.
Great blog that reviews Baggini concepts are in this blog :

Interview of author about the book :

Quote on Death:
"If you try to deny death you're also denying life,in a way you are refusing to accept what is fundamental to your condition as a person: that you are dying all the time, you are dissolving, you're failing; potential you could fli
Sep 25, 2012 marked it as to-read
Tom Hiddleston recommended this: so I must read it. It sounds very fascinating, and I really do want to read it for more than just that reason!
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in finding out what, if not who, they are.
I read this on my Kindle and when I got to the end unexpectedly early, I actually went "noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" (very quietly, as I was on the tube). I didn't want it to end.

The Ego Trick is absolutely fascinating. Julian has a refreshingly thorough way of presenting ideas and thinking them through, something you don't often get with 'popular science' books.

It might seem like an examination of the true nature of 'self' would be enough for a book, but what delighted me was that Julian the
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Apparently I can't kill the ego because it doesn't truly exist if I were to believe Mr. Baggini. Over the course of this work he theorizes that what we know or feel to be our "self" is not a solid, unchanging thing that exists within, but rather a "loose bundle" of things including but not limited to, memory, character, perceptions, emotions, and things outside ourselves like other people and things like our smartphones and books we've read. Because this bundle is forever in flux, it is im
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
While a great study into the foray of the self, I feel that Baggini often lingers too long on certain ideas, and after proving his point, continues on with the novel for a good 100 or so pages, so I feel that a lot of it wasn't needed for his purposes. That said, I did really enjoy the book and how all of his analysis was grounded in reason and science, which to me was an interesting take on he approach to proving a philosophic doctrine.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: self-improvement
I can't think of anything nice to say.
Rob Thompson
The main reason I picked the book up was that I wanted to explore what is means to be me. Effectively the central premise of the book is that “I” is a verb masquerading as a noun. “I” is not a "thing" but what my brain and my body `does'. The self,

is a function of what a certain collection of stuff does.

It’s the fact that I can use my memories and experiences to develop a sense of continuity in my life without actually having a central command centre. However,

your life is not a pack of cells; yo
Holly Blades
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this book for a class and I didn't appreciate the way he discussed Christian ideas as gibberish.
Awinash Jha
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is my second read and it really clears lot of fog going on inside in terms of who I am . The book proposes bundle theory of self which is very hard to accept and experience but if you think deeply somewhere it would strike a chord and a little bit of opening in the fog cloud would help you to see things more clearly. On the negative side this book is written with an end in mind not exploratory in nature so the spiritual side of argument has been given very limited and less weightage.I find ...more
Slim Khezri
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another great book, interesting topic!!! How “you” are you, really? Character is something we tend to think of as a static, enduring quality, and yet we glorify stories of personal transformation. "The Ego Trick: In Search of the Self" — is an absorbing journey across philosophy, anthropology, sociology, neuroscience, religion and psychology. What are we if not just the body we inhabit? That is the question writer Baggini explores in this fascinating book about the essence of our identity - what ...more
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
As I entered my 40s I started thinking seriously about whether I'd figured out yet just who I am and what I really want to do "when I grow up". Am I the same person I was when I was 20? When I was 30? Am I the same person I was yesterday? With a life expectancy of at least another 50 years, is it normal to think about starting a new phase of life?

Wondering if I could possibly be the only person thinking this much on the concept of self in modern society, I saw this book and thought it looked int
Feb 07, 2017 added it

" can we remain the same people over time, even as we change, sometimes considerably?"
what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for saying that a person at one time is the same as a person at another?
For now, however, what is significant is simply that people almost invariably believe that there is such an essence, a core of self that holds steady through life. This is sometimes called the ‘pearl’ view."
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Wow, I really enjoyed this book and was so sorry when it ended. I found myself convinced again by the idea of a bundled fluid self, ever under construction. I loved the way different issues and aspects of the arguments were explored and developed through conversations with real people, as well as a good sample of literature. For me personally, it was exciting to read a book which brought together things I read and explored while I was doing my doctorate - regarding memory, embodiment, multiplici ...more
H M Reynolds
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The centre piece of this book is that the illusion of a singular consciousness within the human mind is caused by a bundle of different elements projected together, a bit like white light being composed of many different colours.
The book indicates the evidence for this theory and its implications.

Superstitious views such as the existence of a soul or there being a point in the mind where consciousness dwells are rebutted by various examples of practical evidence.

Later in the book, the author off
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is great! I found it interesting, amusing, informative and validating. Julian Baggini has the most sensible view of the self I have seen. There has been an infatuation with Buddhism and also claims that the self is an "illusion" lately. Baggini's views on the subject of the self are highly needed at this time! The self is not an illusion. The self is something the brain and body DO. Claiming the self is an illusion is like claiming a college is an illusion because when you try to find ...more
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it
The 7th chapter, which shares the name of the title of the book, was by far and away the best. It felt like the rest of the book was just filler to extend that chapter into a book. I'd still recommend the book because that chapter is gold. Maybe the other chapters were a primer...

I feel 3 stars is harsh because he did give a new and interesting concept of the self, but I also feel like a lot of the book was a irrelevant.

I like Julian on philosophy and neuroscience, but really dislike his theolog
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
"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?"

I loved this book and the questions it pondered/answered. I thought the anecdotes helped with the overall fluidity although I know some reviewers thought it was too much. As someone who only briefly studied psychology in school, I appreciated Baggini's ability to simplify some of the compl
Ben Payne
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book interesting but frustrating. It's a great discussion on what makes the "self" and whether there is an intrinsic "me". And the parts that deal directly with this are fascinating reading.

However I found the author also gets distracted a lot and goes off into arguments with other thinkers, religious figures etc, which he can't seem to resist getting bogged down in. I would have prefered a more focussed book about the self without some of the diversions.
Stephen Palmer
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I liked this book a lot. Written by a deep-thinking author with great skill at "popularising" (for want of a better word) various psychological topics, it covers the various flaws and mistakes we can make in characterising ourselves as single entities, unchanging over time. Really fascinating stuff. Interviews with experts, ordinary people and people in extraordinary situations all add to the mix. Definitely recommended for those who want to know more about the human condition...
Bill Lalonde
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Baggini makes an excellent, clear, and comprehensible case for a bundle theory of personhood. Those already devoted to an alternate theory won't find enough to persuade them to change their minds-- too many things are covered to go into that much depth-- but for those still undecided and open-minded, Baggini's case is persuasive indeed.
Heather Pagano
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This was a lighter read than other books I've read by Baggini, but it addressed its subject faithfully, using real life, concrete examples to help explain more abstract philosophical concepts. I always appreciate that Baggini has a coherent answer ready for the questions he poses, and that his discussions are down to earth and practical.
Scott Red Willic
Aug 20, 2016 rated it liked it
It's good book. It's about philosophy of self, as you can guess from the name of this book. But it also includes several other topics, like, religion, neuroscience, etc. If you're into science, esp. neuroscience, and philosophy or if you just want to read something, I recommend you this.
Suzie Burrell
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was very readable. Which is a good thing as I will need to re-read more than once in order to fully understand and convey my comprehension.

Well written and very accessible without any academic-speak to hide his own misunderstanding.
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
A really interesting and informative read. However, I agree with the reviewer who said that the author sometimes gets bogged down in theories and details that don't really relate to the topic of identity (a good chunk of the section on Buddhism is an example of this).
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Every human being must make himself into someone in particular, in order to have reasons to act and live. Carving out a personal identity for which we are responsible is one of the inescapable tasks of human life."
I was looking for something a bit more abstract and on one specific question I have, and although it came up in a way, this book is more of a whirlwind tour of the available perspectives on 'self' and 'identity'.

Good and emminently readable, just didn't contain anything new to me :P
Martin Frisher
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
like the bit about Buddhism. how reincarnation was based on a comment by a lama about wanting to come back to finish a project. also point that the ego is no unitary. in contrast everyday experience often appears to suggest that it is.
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Julian Baggini is a British philosopher and the author of several books about philosophy written for a general audience. He is the author of The Pig that Wants to be Eaten and 99 other thought experiments (2005) and is co-founder and editor of The Philosophers' Magazine. He was awarded his Ph.D. in 1996 from University College London for a thesis on the philosophy of personal identity. In addition ...more
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“The central riddle I’ve set out to solve concerns the self’s continuity in change: how can we remain the same people over time, even as we change, sometimes considerably?” 1 likes
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