Cover Image: Kismet

Kismet

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Member Reviews

Paul Singh takes a scientific approach to debunking what he considers as the three illusions of the brain - free will, consciousness and the self.

Singh shares the scientific discoveries that support his claim. He also mentions the fact that these illusions have likely persisted this long because of the advantage they possess for our survival.

All of us believe that we are conscious but we also believe that there is a soul or a self in each one of us which doesn't perish with the body and exists independent of it. The second belief has been contradicted by science. Singh defines free will as the ability to act without being influenced by our genetic dispositions & conditioning. 

I have recently read another book called Free Will by Sam Harris. He also argues that the way we act is not free but rather determined by series of events that happened after our birth on which we have no control. His reasoning makes sense and so does Paul's.

This is especially disconcerting to me because I have been raised on a diet of 'You can be whatever you want' and 'Your life is CREATED by you'. But the evidence is too much to not be moved by. (Definitely read Free Will too.)

We are robots but complex ones. Our 'self' cannot exist without the brain 'the physical organ' (this reminds me of the no self teaching by Buddha) Our brain is a brilliant evolution and makes us capable of having the illusions of self & free will.

"Our choices are ultimately determined by what's going on in our brain, and what is going on in our brain is determined by genetics, stimuli from the environment, and a myriad of other casual influences' - Paul Singh

This has increased my interest in reading on the topic in future.

Thanks to NetGalley for a free arc of the book.
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I really enjoyed this book. Singh explains what we know about human consciousness and how consciousness studies have evolved throughout history, as science has informed the changing landscape of what we believe about our existence of the self. He also explains 'supernatural' phenomena and how our brain often plays tricks on us and vice versa. 

I am personally an atheist and this book follows this same premise, with consciousness originating from the neural connections and DNA unique to each person creating what we know as awareness of self. Singh provided a lot of scientific evidence for this argument, as well as the conclusion that if we are genetically pre-determined in the actions and behaviors we engage in, the idea of free will is an illusion. Although I'm not sure I totally agree with his philosophical conclusions, I found this to be a highly engaging read that will make you question what you think you know about the self.
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