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Thomas Metzinger

Thomas Metzinger (born March 12, 1958) is a German philosopher. He currently holds the position of director of the theoretical philosophy group at the department of philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and is an Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies. From 2008 to 2009 he is a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

He has been active since the early 1990s in the promotion of consciousness studies as an academic endeavour. As a co-founder, he has been particularly active in the organization of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC), and sat on the board of directors of that organisation from 1994 to 2007. Metzinger is director of the MIND group and has been president of the German cognitive science society from 2005 to 2007. In English he has published two edited works, Conscious Experience (1995), and Neural correlates of consciousness: empirical and conceptual issues (2000). The latter book arose out of the second ASSC meeting, for which he acted as local organizer.

In 2003 Metzinger published the monograph Being No One. In this book he argues that no such things as selves exist in the world: nobody ever had or was a self. All that exists are phenomenal selves, as they appear in conscious experience. He argues that the phenomenal self, however, is not a thing but an ongoing process; it is the content of a "transparent self-model".

Metzinger is praised for his grasp of the fundamental issues of neurobiology, consciousness and the relationship of mind and body. However, his views about the self are the subject of considerable controversy and ongoing debates.

Metzinger's interests include:

  • Philosophy of mind (esp. philosophical aspects of empirical theories in the neuro- and cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence, and related areas of research).
  • Ethics (esp. conceptual connections between applied ethics, the philosophy of mind and anthropology)

In the new field of neuroethics Thomas Metzinger is engaged by supervising the neuroethics web portal.

In 2009 Metzinger published a follow-up book to Being No One for a general audience: The Ego Tunnel (Basic Books, New York, ISBN 0-465-04567-7).

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