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227 Anil Seth: Being You

Our perception of reality is shaped by the brain’s predictions; consciousness is a continual process of prediction and error-correction.

Anil Seth: Being You


Being You offers a new perspective on consciousness and the self, arguing that our experience of reality is shaped not by passive perception, but by the brain's active predictions about the world. Drawing on cutting-edge research from neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, Anil Seth shows how our perceptions and sense of self are continually updated and revised based on the brain's predictions and error-correction mechanisms. Seth offers insights into how our brains construct our sense of reality, and how we can learn to better understand and control our conscious experience.


Title: Being You: A New Science of Consciousness

Author: Anil Seth

Publishing Year: 2021

Publisher: Penguin Press

Length in Hours: 9 hours and 46 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Perception is an active process, in which the brain generates predictions about the world based on sensory input and prior experience.
  2. Consciousness is not a fixed state, but a dynamic process of continually updating and revising predictions and perceptions.
  3. The self is a construction of the brain, based on the integration of sensory information and predictions about the body and the environment.
  4. Our perception of reality is shaped by the brain's predictions and expectations, and can be influenced by factors such as attention and emotion.
  5. By understanding the brain's predictive mechanisms, we can better understand and control our conscious experience, and develop new technologies and interventions to improve mental health and well-being.
Anil Seth: Being You

5 funny quotes

  1. "Perception is like a magician's trick; it's all about misdirection and misinterpretation."
  2. "The brain is like a giant puzzle, and consciousness is the process of trying to put the pieces together."
  3. "Self-awareness is like a mirror; it can be illuminating or frightening, depending on what you see."
  4. "The mind is like a garden; it needs to be tended and nurtured to grow and thrive."
  5. "The brain is like a superhero; it has amazing powers, but also vulnerabilities and weaknesses."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The world we experience is not the real world, but a version of it created by our brains."
  2. "Consciousness is not a thing, but a process; a process of continuously generating and revising predictions about the world."
  3. "The self is not a fixed entity, but a construction of the brain that can be updated and revised over time."
  4. "Perception is not just bottom-up processing of sensory information, but also top-down prediction of what we expect to see and hear."
  5. "The brain's predictive mechanisms can be both a source of creativity and a cause of mental health disorders."

5 dilemmas

  1. The tension between our subjective experience of consciousness and the objective measurements and descriptions of brain activity.
  2. The challenge of understanding and treating mental health disorders that involve disruptions in the brain's predictive mechanisms.
  3. The ethical implications of manipulating or controlling conscious experience through technologies such as virtual reality or brain-computer interfaces.
  4. The tension between the universality of predictive mechanisms in the brain and the variability of conscious experience across individuals and cultures.
  5. The challenge of reconciling the apparent duality of consciousness, which can be both unified and fragmented at different times and in different contexts.

5 examples

  1. The research of Daniel Dennett, a philosopher who has written extensively on consciousness and the self.
  2. The work of the neuroscientist Karl Friston, who has developed a framework for understanding perception and prediction in the brain.
  3. The use of virtual reality technology to study and manipulate perception and consciousness.
  4. The research of the psychologist William James, who wrote about the subjective experience of consciousness and its relationship to the body and the environment.
  5. The work of the neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, who has proposed a new theory of emotions as predictions about the body and the environment.

Referenced books

  1. "I Am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter
  2. "The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self" by Thomas Metzinger
  3. "Consciousness Explained" by Daniel C. Dennett
  4. "The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness Is Widespread but Can't Be Computed" by Christof Koch
  5. "The Brain: The Story of You" by David Eagleman

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"The world we experience is not the real world, but a version of it created by our brains."

Anil Seth: Being You
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