Who Am I? (And Who Are You?)

Antonio Damasio is a neuroscientist who has spent his life researching the functioning of the brain.  His research has led him to offer a number of theories on how neurobiology influences our thoughts, decisions, feelings and actions.

His latest work is centred on our sense of self – that inexplicable feeling we all experience of having a distinct self.  Sometimes this self is clouded, sometimes confused but there is always, within every human being, a strong consciousness of self.

Here he speaks about some of his theories surrounding this fascinating subject –


  1. The more I have investigated this subject of “distinct self-ness”, the more I am convinced we are NOT separate, just distinct particles in a much larger whole.

    1. I think that is most definitely true – I have no doubt that we are one in the real sense of the word but like you said we are distinct selves within that oneness. Thanks for the comment and your lovely posts – have a nice holiday.

  2. I was hoping he would touch upon the relationship between the Ego (or false self) and the true self which emerges when we silence the monkey chatter in our left analytical brain through mindfulness and meditation.

    Alas, he did not. 🙁

    1. I think Antonio Damasio is a man who deals only with the hard-wiring so to speak! You are right of course as even there is evidence that even the physiology can change as a result of experience and training. I was interested in the brain stem area that seems to dominate consciousness and sense of self. Seems such a little area to do so much. Thanks for the comment, Nancy.

  3. I went to a wonderful workshop last weekend which was taught by Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and Rick Mendius, a neurologist. (They wrote Buddha’s Brain, a terrific book) The topic of the day was investigating the perceived sense of self/ego and then “no self” in the brain.
    It was a wonderfully insightful day. Rick went step by step through the perceived sense of self… seeming to be unified, stable, independent and a sense of identity and moving on to the neurology etc of compounding, impermanent, dependent origination and labels… they have posted both the slide sets, which are really easy to follow, even if one wasn’t there…. from that day and the audio of the talks. I highly recommend Rick’s slidesets…I think they are terrific.
    Slide sets…. 12/18/2011 Not Self: http://www.rickhanson.net/files/slides/SRMC_Not-Self_Dec2011.pdf
    All slide sets: http://www.rickhanson.net/media/slide-sets
    Link to audio of the day… 12/18/2011 http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/312/talk/14673/?search=
    They also went into the difference between the doing state and the being state….and the difference between ego centric and allo centric….really helpful and insightful ideas!
    I learned so much that day…much of which I have learned before but a much more logical, concise, insightful presentation. There were several hundred people there and I think almost everyone was stunned by the day..it was that good.

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