Thomas Metzinger

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Thomas Metzinger
Thomas metzinger speaking.jpg
Metzinger in 2011
Born (1958-03-12) 12 March 1958 (age 62)
Frankfurt, West Germany
(now Germany)
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Notable ideas
Phenomenal Self model (PSM)

Thomas Metzinger (born 12 March 1958) is a German philosopher and professor of theoretical philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. As of 2011, he is an Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, a co-founder of the German Effective Altruism Foundation, president of the  Barbara Wengeler Foundation, and on the advisory board of the Giordano Bruno Foundation. From 2008 to 2009 he served as a Fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study; from 2014 to 2019 he was a Fellow at the Gutenberg Research College; from 2019 to 2021 he was awarded a Senior-Forschungsprofessur by the Ministry of Science, Education and Culture. From 2018 to 2020 Metzinger worked as a member of the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence.


Metzinger has been active since the early 1990s in the promotion of consciousness studies as an academic endeavour. As a co-founder, he has been particularly active in the organization of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC), and sat on the board of directors of that organisation from 1995 to 2008. He served as president of the ASSC in 2009/10. Metzinger is director of the MIND group and was president of the German cognitive science society from 2005 to 2007. In English he has published two edited works, Conscious Experience (1995), and Neural correlates of consciousness: empirical and conceptual issues (2000). The latter book arose out of the second ASSC meeting, for which he acted as local organizer. In 2015, together with Jennifer M. Windt, he published the Open MIND-collection, containing more than 100 original, peer-reviewed open access-papers from philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and neuroscience. A follow-up project (2017) was Philosophy and Predictive Processing-collection.

In 2003 Metzinger published the monograph Being No One. In this book he argues that no such things as selves exist in the world: nobody ever had or was a self. All that exists 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." In 2009 Metzinger published a follow-up book to Being No One for a general audience: The Ego Tunnel (Basic Books, New York, ISBN 0-465-04567-7).

Metzinger's work addresses some of the fundamental issues in neurobiology, consciousness, and the relationship between mind and body.

Metzinger's interests include:

  • Philosophy of mind (esp. philosophical aspects of empirical theories in the neuro- and cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence, and related areas of research).
  • Ethics (esp. conceptual connections between applied ethics, the philosophy of mind and anthropology)

He is currently serving on the editorial board for the journal Neuroscience of Consciousness.


  • (1985) Neuere Beiträge zur Diskussion des Leib-Seele-Problems. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 3-8204-8927-4
  • (1993) Subjekt und Selbstmodell. Die Perspektivität phänomenalen Bewußtseins vor dem Hintergrund einer naturalistischen Theorie mentaler Repräsentation. mentis, Paderborn, ISBN 3-89785-081-8
  • (2003) Being No One. The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts., ISBN 0-262-13417-9 (Hardcover)/ISBN 0262633086 (Paperback)
  • (2009) The Ego Tunnel - The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self Basic Books, New York, ISBN 0-465-04567-7
  • (2009) Der Ego-Tunnel - Eine neue Philosophie des Selbst: Von der Hirnforschung zur Bewusstseinsethik Berlin Verlag, Berlin, ISBN 3-8270-0630-9
  • (2010) Der Ego Tunnel. Eine neue Philosophie des Selbst: Von der Hirnforschung zur Bewusstseinsethik. Berlin: Berlin Verlag. eBook ISBN 978-3-8270-7037-1
  • (2011) Being No One. The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. Kindle edition; ASIN: B004ELBJ56
Selected articles and book chapters
DVD set
  • (2009) Philosophie des Bewusstseins (5 DVDs)- 15 Vorlesungen an der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz vom Wintersemester 2007/2008 Auditorium-Netzwerk.

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