Spirituality and intellectual honesty

German philosopher Thomas Metzinger is a co-founder of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness. In 2003 he published ‘Being No One’ in which he argues that no such things as selves exist in the world: nobody ever had or was a self. All that exists, he states, 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’.

A follow-up to ‘Being No One’ appeared In 2009, this time for a general audience and called ‘The Ego Tunnel’. In a recent essay, ‘Spirituality and Intellectual Honesty’, he suggests that the following question seems to be of central importance:

‘Can something like a completely secularised form of spirituality exist? Or is this idea perhaps incoherent – something that on second sight cannot be described consistently and without getting lost in obvious contradictions?

‘This philosophical problem – the question about the inner structure, the conditions of possibility for a secularised form of spirituality – is so interesting and for many has come to be so important that we should approach it very carefully, and in small steps.

‘For this reason I want to ask three very simple questions in the following three sections:

‘What is ‘spirituality’?

‘What exactly is meant by the idea of ‘intellectual honesty’? And

‘Is there an inner connection between these two stances on the world and our own minds?’

Download this essay here, and leave your comments below.

Hat tip to Stephen Batchelor for sharing this essay.


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