The Ego Trick Book Summary - The Ego Trick Book explained in key points
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The Ego Trick summary

Julian Baggini

What Does it Mean To Be You?

3.9 (51 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

The Ego Trick by Julian Baggini explores the concept of the self and argues that it is merely an illusion created by our brains. It challenges us to reconsider our understanding of identity and how we relate to others.

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    The Ego Trick
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Do spiritual awakenings reveal the truth of our existence – or are they the result of brain dysfunctions?

    In 1982, a woman named Suzanne Segal was waiting for a bus in Paris. Without warning, she forgot everything about her life, including her conception of who she was.

    To Segal, the body and brain that she’d had since birth no longer seemed to be hers. Instead, her thoughts of herself encompassed everything and everyone around her. “I” was nothing more than a vast open space, and Segal became certain that she didn’t really exist at all.

    For the following ten years, Segal resisted this loss of self and sought help from several therapists. But as her attempts to reconnect with her old self failed, Segal began to wonder if she’d experienced an awakening. Was it possible that losing her identity was a form of transcendence?

    Having found similarities between her experience and the Buddhist conception of anatta, a transcendental state of non-being, Segal began to work as a spiritual leader. Yet by 1996, Segal’s sense of anatta began to fall apart at the seams. At times, she even felt like her old self again, and her spiritual messages became confused.

    Neuroscience research suggests that some spiritual experiences may, in fact, be the result of brain dysfunctions. Unfortunately, this seemed to be the case for Segal, who could no longer hold a pen or remember people’s names. In February 1997, she was diagnosed with a large brain tumor. She died a few months later, after a brief coma.

    Doctors believed Segal’s shift in consciousness back in 1982 was caused by the pressure the tumor was exerting on her brain. However, Segal’s followers disagreed. They believed it was the tumor that caused her to lose her connection to the transcendent, universal consciousness.

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    What is The Ego Trick about?

    The Ego Trick (2011) explores the slippery topic of what we call “I” or “me.” These blinks give insight into the many factors that shape our sense of self, including brain function and dysfunction, society, culture and technological changes, and introduce the key philosophical questions behind our ideas about identity, souls and free will.

    The Ego Trick Review

    The Ego Trick (2011) explores the concept of the self and challenges the idea of a fixed and singular identity. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With a philosophical lens, it delves deep into the nature of self and identity, offering a fresh perspective on how we perceive ourselves.
    • Through compelling case studies and thought-provoking examples, it challenges our assumptions about what it means to be an individual.
    • The book shatters the illusion of a unified self, presenting a nuanced and captivating exploration of human consciousness and the ego.

    Best quote from The Ego Trick

    We will never know for sure what the true causal factors for Segals experiences were.

    —Julian Baggini
    example alt text

    Who should read The Ego Trick?

    • Readers who suspect that our world is illusory
    • Students seeking a compact introduction to the philosophy of mind
    • Those interested in the parallels between Western philosophy and Buddhist thought

    About the Author

    Julian Baggini is a British philosopher and founder of The Philosopher’s Magazine. He is also the author of the bestselling philosophical texts The Pig That Wants to be Eaten and Do They Think You’re Stupid?

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    The Ego Trick FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Ego Trick?

    The main message of The Ego Trick is that our sense of self is a complex and ever-changing illusion.

    How long does it take to read The Ego Trick?

    Reading time for The Ego Trick varies, but it can be read in several hours. The Blinkist summary takes just 15 minutes.

    Is The Ego Trick a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Ego Trick is a thought-provoking and enlightening book. It challenges our understanding of who we are and our place in the world.

    Who is the author of The Ego Trick?

    The author of The Ego Trick is Julian Baggini.

    What to read after The Ego Trick?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Ego Trick, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman
    • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
    • Third Millennium Thinking by Saul Perlmutter
    • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
    • The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
    • Beyond Order by Jordan B. Peterson
    • The Mountain Is You by Brianna Wiest
    • The Art of Clear Thinking by Hasard Lee
    • The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe
    • Ultralearning by Scott H. Young