Ego Tunnel

The ‘view from within’ is from inside the process of embodiment, not from inside the skull or the skin. There is nobody inside the body reading the information coming in through the sense channels or any other channels. It is the bodymind itself, acting out its own integrity, which does the reading and meaning. To do this consciously, the brain conjures up a phantom for you to think of as your self. Thomas Metzinger calls this the phenomenal Ego, and calls its world the Ego Tunnel:

Whenever our brains successfully pursue the ingenious strategy of creating a unified and dynamic inner portrait of reality, we become conscious. First, our brains generate a world-simulation, so perfect that we do not recognize it as an image in our minds. Then, they generate an inner image of ourselves as a whole. This image includes not only our body and our psychological states but also our relationship to the past and the future, as well as to other conscious beings. The internal image of the person-as-a-whole is the phenomenal Ego, the “I” or “self ” as it appears in conscious experience; therefore, I use the terms “phenomenal Ego” and “phenomenal self ” interchangeably. The phenomenal Ego is not some mysterious thing or little man inside the head but the content of an inner image— namely, the conscious self-model, or PSM. By placing the self-model within the world-model, a center is created. That center is what we experience as ourselves, the Ego. It is the origin of what philosophers often call the first-person perspective. We are not in direct contact with outside reality or with ourselves, but we do have an inner perspective. We can use the word “I.” We live our conscious lives in the Ego Tunnel.

— Metzinger (2009, 6-7)

Metzinger’s ‘Ego Tunnel’ is roughly equivalent to the cognitive bubble in Turning Signs; his proposition that ‘We are not in direct contact with outside reality or with ourselves’ is equivalent to the Peircean proposition that all cognition is mediated, i.e. ‘all thought is in signs.’

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