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.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
» For more on the psychological version of this point, read this series on how the inner workings of our minds are hidden from us.