Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion [6:52]


Sam Harris discusses consciousness and personal identity, and argues that the qualitative experience we have of these can largely, if not completely, be an illusion.  A common problem is that we can easily correlate brain states to certain subjective experiences we have, but this doesn’t mean we can throw out or ignore the latter.  They are two sides of the same coin.  There is only one coin – a soul or mind does not exist separately – but that doesn’t mean there is only one side to the coin.  He also argues for a secular or naturalistic understanding of self-transcendence.

Discussion Questions

  • What does Harris mean when he says that the self, ego, or our center of experience is an ‘illusion’?
  • What was Harris’ coin analogy and what does it mean?
  • How does Harris understand self-transcendence?  Do you agree?

Keywords: identity, self, Harris, philosophy, consciousness, transcendence, human nature, religion, spirituality


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