Being a self - being one’s own self, in particular - is the most familiar of all experiences. Indeed it is one’s self that is experienced as having one’s experiences: one’s sensations, emotions, memories, feelings of agency, feelings of thinking, deciding and acting, the very feeling of existing. Philosophical traditions encourage us to know ourselves, but also to not take ourselves too seriously and to not get too caught up with the wanting, thinking, deciding and acting “ego” part of the self. But what is this self experience, why do we have it, and what happens if it starts to unravel? I’ll suggest that we should marvel at the experience of the self, and speculate as to why we have it.
Chris Fields is an interdisciplinary information scientist interested in both the physics and the cognitive neuroscience underlying the human perception of objects as spatially and temporally bounded entities. His current research focuses on deriving quantum theory from classical information theory; he also works on cell-cell communication and cellular information processing, the role of the “unconscious mind” in creative problem solving, and early childhood development, particularly the etiology of autism-spectrum conditions. He and his wife, author and yoga teacher Alison Tinsley, recently published Meditation: If You’re Doing It, You’re Doing It Right, in which they explore the experience of meditation with meditators from many walks of life. Dr. Fields has also been a volunteer firefighter, a visual artist, and a travel writer. He currently divides his time between Sonoma, CA and Caunes Minervois, a village in southwestern France.
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