Thomas Metzinger (born 12 March 1958) is a German philosopher. As of 2011 he holds the position of director of the theoretical philosophy group at the department of philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and is an Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies and on the advisory board of the Giordano Bruno Foundation. From 2008 to 2009 he served as a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin; from 2014 to 2019 he is a Fellow at the Gutenberg Research College.
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 has been 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.
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)