The fallacy concerning our ego: A comment on Sam Harris by Humberto Schwab

This video was originally posted on the Channel of First Congregational Church of LA

To change or innovate, we need to know our current reality. But that what we call reality is NOT reality, I surprise you if I say we live in “philosophical narratives”! We build our so-called “reality” on philosophical assumptions that originate in religion, communal practices, traditional narratives, tribal cultures, prejudices, dogmas, and of course, the minds of many philosophers. Even if we say “look at the facts,” we actually say “look at our common way of looking at things”! Facts do not exist the way we assume their certainty.

Unfortunately, our mind is not as intelligent as we think it is; it developed in millions of years of an evolution aiming at survival at any cost. So, it is NOT a rational entity but an animalistic instrument to flee from predators or kill. In evolution, it was never an advantage to have a slow, rational, reflecting brain: it is killing, or be killed. The fastness and goal orientation of that neural system is not helpful in the complex technological and abstract society we live in. There are no tigers around the corner, and we do not need to kill any moment.

This flawed mind will generate flawed thoughts and assumptions. Unfortunately, these thoughts are addictive and hard to get rid of. Sam Harris points at an important addictive assumption that lies at the root of many systematic problems nowadays. He makes explicit that our model of the ego, the unified self, the rider on the horse all located in the head, are all illusions that are very hard to get rid of and at the same time so dominant in our personal experience.
This illusion of the rational self is connected to the addictive thought that the body and mind are separate. “I have a body” is what most people say instead of “I am a body.” Like you are driving your body as if it were a car.

So due to this locked-in-the-brain model, we observe the world from our inside through our eye lenses. The separation of mind and body follows the separation between the inner world and the external world. And consequently, we have difficulties in understanding that we can understand the world.

This is a beautiful but tragic example of the culturally rooted addictive thought of the self as an “I think” location. It is tragic because people incorporate this model of themselves on themselves and hence lose the possibility of the embodied mind experience, the experience of being “in the world,” without a rational corset but with the richness of the variety of sensorial, emotional, cognitive interactions between our inner-world and our outer world.

Socratic Design aims at reflecting on our cultural, philosophical addictive thoughts by facilitating collective intelligence to design new assumptions for a more humane life.