An illusion, according to cognitive scientist Bruce Hood, is an experience of something that is not what it appears to be. The self is artificial in the sense that it is perceived as a consequence of multiple sections of our brain attempting to blend our experiences, ideas, and behaviors into a narrative. The self is also artificial in the sense that it is an abstraction - a collection of sensations, thoughts, and feelings that are defined by how we think and act.
No one knows for sure why people have beliefs about their own existence but there are two main theories: semantic memory theory and social cognition theory. Semantic memory theory states that we believe we exist because it's what we learned from others or through experience. Social cognition theory says that we believe we exist because it's a useful concept for making sense of the world and helping us navigate it.
People all over the world have been thinking about and discussing the question "What is life?" for as long as they've had language to do so. It's a natural human desire to try to make sense of the universe around us, and especially the strange phenomenon called life. Even though this question can be difficult to answer, it isn't new. It has been asked by many great thinkers over time.
The daily sensation of the self is so familiar, but brain science reveals that it is an illusion. We all have some sense of self, but what we have is a strong portrayal manufactured by our brains for our own advantage. The self is a social construct designed to make us feel important and give us purpose.
An illusion is a misrepresentation of a "real" sensory stimulus--that is, an interpretation that contradicts objective "reality" as defined by general agreement. For example, a child who perceives tree branches at night as if they are goblins may be said to be having an illusion. In this case, the perception is false because there are no goblins at play.
An illusion can also be described as a misinterpretation of information from the senses. For example, when a patient with Parkinson's disease stands up, he or she may experience dizziness because the body does not receive immediate feedback about position. If someone were to tell you that you are standing up when you are actually lying down, this would be an example of an illusion caused by missing position sense information. Illusions can also result from faulty reasoning processes or cognitive errors. For example, when people with lung diseases like emphysema use their breathing muscles too much, they tend to feel short of breath even when lying down. If they believe that this feeling is due to a lack of oxygen, then they will breathe more often to try and fix it. However, this only makes things worse because more breaths mean more CO2 levels in the blood which causes more fatigue. People also create illusions when they interpret information from the senses incorrectly or fail to take objective reality into account.
The "I" perceives the self as an object, as one imagines others view one. Someone or something outside of oneself is defined. In some instances, we acquire this via social interactions and think about other people before ourselves. This theory was proposed by William James in 1890. He called it "the mirror theory of the mind".
Looking-glass self-theory is a psychological concept that describes the way in which individuals perceive themselves to be separate from other people. It is a cognitive process through which we understand ourselves to be different from other people.
According to this theory, everyone believes they are independent beings who exist separately from other people. But what really makes us unique is our ability to recognize ourselves as being distinct from other people. If someone could see inside our minds, they would find out that we cannot do this because we believe other people can read our thoughts. We assume that others have the same thoughts as we do because they seem like ordinary rational people.
People use two ways to describe their experience of the world: directly, through our senses, and indirectly, through our thoughts and feelings. Under the looking-glass self-theory, both types of information are treated equally; we assume that others have access to our senses just as we do to theirs.