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There Is No Stream of Consciousness. What is all this? What is all this stuff around me; this stream of experiences that I seem to be having all the time?

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Throughout history there have been people who say it is all illusion. I think they may be right. But if they are right what could this mean? If you just say 'It's all an illusion' this gets you nowhere-- except that a whole lot of other questions appear. Why should we all be victims of an illusion instead of seeing things the way they really are? What sort of illusion is it anyway? Why is it like that and not some other way? Is it possible to see through the illusion? And if so what happens next.<\P>

These are difficult questions, but if the stream of consciousness is an illusion, we should be trying to answer them rather than more conventional questions about consciousness. I shall explore these questions though I cannot claim that I will answer them. In doing so I shall rely on two methods. First, there are the methods of science, based on theorising and hypothesis testing-- on doing experiments to find out how the world works. Second, there is disciplined observation-- watching experience as it happens to find out how it really seems. This sounds odd. You might say that your own experience is infallible-- that if you say it is like this for you then no one can prove you wrong. I only suggest you look a bit more carefully. Perhaps then it won't seem quite the way you thought it did before. I suggest that both these methods are helpful for penetrating the illusion-- if illusion it is.
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Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: 2002-05-01

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