Damn! (but actually I'm happy)
Another $19.57 has found its way from my VISA account into Amazon's accounts receivable, thanks to Sam Harris' interview with the author of Illusion of the Self -- another neuroscience book that the "I" who isn't me was led to order by largely unconscious brain processes over which the "I" who isn't me has no control.
If you're interested in this stuff, but not twenty bucks worth of interested, it'll cost you nothing to read the interview.
I'm fascinated by the increasingly evident neuroscientific conclusion that there's no such thing as a Self to be found within the human cranium. Buddhism and other like-minded philosophies are being proven right, yet also wrong.
Meaning, since we humans don't have a Self, there's no need to undergo an arduous enlightenment process aimed at understanding that we don't have one. Also, there's no need to engage in a pursuit of Self-Realization, since there's no Self to realize.
Here's some excerpts from the interview:
In what sense is the self an illusion?
For me, an illusion is a subjective experience that is not what it seems. Illusions are experiences in the mind, but they are not out there in nature. Rather, they are events generated by the brain. Most of us have an experience of a self. I certainly have one, and I do not doubt that others do as well – an autonomous individual with a coherent identity and sense of free will. But that experience is an illusion – it does not exist independently of the person having the experience, and it is certainly not what it seems. That’s not to say that the illusion is pointless. Experiencing a self illusion may have tangible functional benefits in the way we think and act, but that does not mean that it exists as an entity.
...Answering the question of who is experiencing the illusion or interpreting the story is much more problematic. This is partly a conceptual problem and partly a problem of dualism. It is almost impossible to discuss the self without a referent in the same way that is difficult to think about a play without any players. Second, as the philosopher Gilbert Ryle pointed out, in searching for the self, one cannot simultaneously be the hunter and the hunted, and I think that is a dualistic problem if we think we can objectively examine our own minds independently, because our mind and self are both generated by the brain. So while the self illusion suggests an illogical tautology, I think this is only a superficial problem.