Consciousness is a Magic Trick – Dan Dennett

The first problem in understanding our own minds is giving up many of the things we think we know. Dan Dennett is a philosopher of consciousness whose talk for TED, which uses visual illusions as illustrations, shows how consciousness is a kind of magic trick cooked up by our brains.

It’s a very simple message, but a vital one in understanding the mind. What Dennett explains so neatly is that it’s natural to think we’re experts on consciousness – and psychology – by virtue of being conscious ourselves and having access to our own thought processes. But actually we’re none of us quite as informed about ourselves as we’d like to think.

ยป For more on the psychological version of this point, read this series on how the inner workings of our minds are hidden from us.

About the author

Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog and His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 29 October 2008

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