"A brilliant beast of a book."—David Byrne
"Exhilarating... a vast-ranging, phenomenal achievement that will undoubtedly become a seminal text." —The Guardian
Anil Seth's quest to understand the biological basis of conscious experience is one of the most exciting contributions to twenty-first-century science.
What does it mean to “be you”—that is, to have a specific, conscious experience of the world around you and yourself within it? There may be no more elusive or fascinating question. Historically, humanity has considered the nature of consciousness to be a primarily spiritual or philosophical inquiry, but scientific research is now mapping out compelling biological theories and explanations for consciousness and selfhood.
Now, internationally renowned neuroscience professor, researcher, and author Anil Seth is offers a window into our consciousness in BEING YOU: A New Science of Consciousness. Anil Seth is both a leading expert on the neuroscience of consciousness and one of most prominent spokespeople for this relatively new field of science. His radical argument is that we do not perceive the world as it objectively is, but rather that we are prediction machines, constantly inventing our world and correcting our mistakes by the microsecond, and that we can now observe the biological mechanisms in the brain that accomplish this process of consciousness.
Seth has been interviewed for documentaries aired on the BBC, Netflix, and Amazon and podcasts by Sam Harris, Russell Brand, and Chris Anderson, and his 2017 TED Talk on the topic has been viewed over 11 million times, a testament to his uncanny ability to make unimaginably complex science accessible and entertaining.
“Seth provokes us to think about thinking. And he offers what the interested reader always needs—a book which makes complex ideas readable, relatable, and gripping. If you want to understand his subject better—he’ll help you. And who wouldn’t want to better understand consciousness? In our lives, there is nothing weirder or more fundamental.”
—Alex Garland, director of EX MACHINA
“Being You offers us a new cause for astonishment and wonder. Through expert science writing and engaging personal narrative, Anil gives us a new perspective on everything we perceive, down to space and time itself. Being You is a must read for anyone seeking a better understanding of the brain and how nature sculpts the human experience.”
—Annaka Harris, author of Conscious
“Seth is uniquely placed to truly advance our understanding of one of humanity’s deepest riddles.”
—Chris Anderson, Curator of TED
“Reality is real, but how our brains construct a picture of reality—perceiving, integrating, predicting—is far from direct. It's a complicated, fascinating mess, which neuroscientists are just beginning to piece together. Anil Seth's Being You is a wonderfully accessible and comprehensive account of how our minds capture the world, and how that makes us who we are.”
—Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden
“On the one hand we find joy, love, light. On the other we find billions of tiny cells interacting in the dark. How are these related? Few people are as well positioned as Anil Seth to tackle the question of consciousness. Beautifully written, crystal clear, deeply insightful.”
—David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Stanford University, writer and host of the Emmy-nominated PBS television series The Brain, and author of Livewired and Incognito
“The treatment of consciousness on offer is eclectic and delivered with a particular kind of generosity: it is both generous to the reader, in its earnest (and successful) attempt to lay bare the essentials of different contributions. It is generous to these contributions per se: ranging from anaesthesia—the art of turning people into objects—from information theory to the Wizards of Odds (abductive Bayesian inference), from the Beholder's Share to the free energy principle—aptly defined as there are more ways of being mush than there are of being alive. It's dénouement is a millennial take on being A Beast Machine: a potent account of embodied sentience and selfhood. An account that is rendered irresistible by Anil Seth’s gentle and inclusive arguments.”
—Karl Friston, University College London, ranked by Semantic Scholar as the most influential neuroscientist in the world
“Anil Seth is one of the world’s leading consciousness researchers—his take on the subject is unique and refreshing, and his talks and writing always exciting, accessible, and engaging. I look forward to his book-length account concerning experience and its place in nature.”
—Christof Koch, President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Allen Brain Institute, Seattle, and author of Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist
“Anil Seth thinks clearly and sharply on one of the hardest problems of science and philosophy, cuts through weeds with a scientist’s mind and a storyteller’s skill.”
—Adam Rutherford, author of NBCC Award nominee A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, and presenter of BBC Inside Science