Sunday, February 26, 2012

Being No One – Neuroscience Disproves the Self?

Being No One – Neuroscience Disproves the Self?

Being No One – Neuroscience Disproves the Self?

What does modern neuroscience have to say about our sense of self? Is there really any permanent, essential self to us at all?

Photo by Robert Naczas
Photo by Robert Naczas

The foundational Buddhist theory of pratãtya-samutpàda points out the ways in which our experience of ‘me’ and ‘world’, ‘subject’ and ‘object’, arise, persist then dissipate again, together, in a series of moments. There is no permanent ‘screen’ on which our experience arises. (Kurak 2003) Various impulses and desires come up and, through our acts of selection, attachment and clinging, we conspire to maintain a sense of self which feels permanent and “essential”.

This view of experience is very consistent with recent trends in neuroscience, which suggest that our experience is made up of “a series of discrete microstates” and that “affective structures and systems play critical roles in governing the formation of such states” (Kurak 2003).

In other words, our emotional “system” is instrumental in deciding what we perceive, how we perceive it, and how we then react. For example, if we have traumatic associations with certain situations, say going to school, then we are likely to reinforce the trauma unwittingly by seeing danger signs everywhere, where they do not really exist. This does not mean that one of the qualities we possess is that we are scared of going to school. It is more like a self -reinforcing (sic) process, continuously arising. Scaredness keeps arising in the biological organism, through its interpretation of the world.

This process of interpretation of the world, an integral part of which takes place in/through the emotional system (see the work of Damasio), or through desire, as Buddhists would stress, perpetuating itself through attachment, clinging, or well-trodden neural pathways, is maybe what we call ‘self’.

Thomas Metzinger is a philosopher of mind who, in “Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity” (2003), argues, with some relish, that “no such things as selves exist in the world” (Metzinger 2005, p. 3). While taken by many as a radical, Metzinger stresses that Buddhist philosophy has worked from this starting point for the last 2500 years, and currents in Western philosophy (he cites Hume) have had similar insights.

According to Metzinger, the “self-y feeling” (Metzinger 2009) we all nonetheless carry is caused by a fundamental confusion. He argues that we, as organisms, use representational models on all kinds of biological levels, in order to lead our lives. Metzinger argues that consciousness itself is also a kind of representational model (requiring specific constraints to arise), a model which is invisible and thus confuses itself with reality.

So we are a collection of “phenomenological self representational models”. They are not fixed entities but dynamic processes, constantly interacting with different objects, and simultaneously representing the representational relations themselves. (Metzinger 2005) We ‘are’ these models which cannot turn around and catch themselves in action, and so confuse their contents with “themselves”. This confusion is the self-y feeling. We feel as if we are looking directly at the world, yet we are unable to separate ‘ourselves’ from the representational model that is maintaining our lives as a process of interaction with the world, and in the process producing our selves.

(Editor’s Note: Ironically, the story of the self model understood as a dynamic representational structure and the origin of this sense of ‘self’ was first fleshed out in information theoretic detail in my 1998 book, Mind Out of Matter. Thomas and I enjoyed many debates on the topic earlier in that decade, before my own trajectory led me away from professional philosophy altogether. — Greg Mulhauser)

Our sense of selves is largely produced by the generation of a single context and an experience of the moment. These produce the sense of presence our first person perspective is built on. The self-model’s stroke of genius is the way in which it manages to continuously represent both the level at which the organism maintains and regulates itself in dialogue with the environment, experienced as a kind of undeniable physical “thereness”, and a much higher order set of cognitive processes which simulate possibilities, adding a flavour of “me-ness”.

It is hard to argue with Metzinger when he points out that in time itself there is no such thing as past or future, neither is there such a thing as ‘now’. (Metzinger 2005) It also seems to me, however, that there is no point at which to stand outside time, and point at any ‘part’ of it in order to label it anything at all. Which he might say, is an example of my being caught inside my own model, but I think is a deeper philosophical problem, for another post.

Maybe the salient difference between Metzinger’s profession of no-self and the Buddhist view is that Metzinger sees the development of a first person point of view and a self as a valuable part of evolution, leading human beings forward into culture, whereas the basic Buddhist view regards clinging to the first person point of view as a primary cause of suffering and ignorance (not to mention coming back and going through the whole thing all over again!).

Surely it is possible to live from our human first person perspective, not denying it, and not clinging to its ‘essential nature’ either. Whether we are really models of representational systems, however, I am not so sure… more posts to come in the series on self!


Kurak, M. (2003) “The Relevance of the Buddhist Theory of Dependent Co-Origination to Cognitive Science”, Brain and Mind 4: 341–351.
Metzinger, T. (2005) “Precis of Metzinger, T. (2003) Being No One, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press”, Psyche, 11(5).
Metzinger, T. (2009) “Interview with Thomas Metzinger: You are not a self! Bodies, brains and the nature of consciousness”, All In The Mind. ABC Radio National, Australia.

Me, Myself and My Stranger: Understanding the Neuroscience of Selfhood: Scientific American

Me, Myself and My Stranger: Understanding the Neuroscience of Selfhood: Scientific American

New case studies focus on rare illusory body perceptions that could answer questions about how we maintain a "self"

But sometimes this spatial self-location goes awry. During a so-called out-of-body experience, for example, one's self seems to be transported outside the physical body into a surreal perspective—some people even believe they are viewing their bodies from above, as though their true selves were floating. In a related experience, people with a delusion known as somatoparaphrenia disown one of their limbs or confuse another person's limb for their own. Such warped perceptions help researchers understand the neuroscience of selfhood.

A new paper offers examples of rare bodily illusions that are not confined to a single limb, nor are they complete out-of-body experiences—they are somewhere in between. These illusory body perceptions, described in the September issue of Consciousness and Cognition, could offer novel clues about how the brain maintains a link between the physical and conscious selves, or what the researchers call "bodily self-consciousness."

An out-of-body experience, Heydrich explains, warps all three aspects of bodily self-consciousness. In contrast, the two patients in the new study maintained normal self-location and first-person perspective even during an illusion. "They still perceived the world from their normal perspective, and they still felt they were in their bodies. But they had strong problem of self-identification. Patient 1 felt that…[the left]…half of him was a stranger and patient 2 felt that everything below his chin was no longer his."

Individuals who have trouble with only one aspect of bodily self-consciousness suggest that the three aspects can be dissociated, offering researchers an opportunity to determine which brain regions or networks underlie which components of self-perception.

An MRI revealed that patient 1 had a brain lesion in the right posterior intraparietal sulcus. In patient 2's brain, the researchers identified a concentration of aberrant electrical activity (the epileptogenic focus) in the right supplementary motor area (SMA) and right superior frontal gyrus. Surgery that removed patient 2's SMA and parts of his superior frontal gyrus cured the seizures and strange bodily perceptions, according to a checkup 15 months later. Heydrich says this implicates the SMA and premotor cortex specifically in the self-identification component of bodily self-consciousness.

Read more:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

FANTASTIC PENCIL ILLUSION! - watch this! in HD! - YouTube

FANTASTIC PENCIL ILLUSION! - watch this! in HD! - YouTube

ploaded by on Aug 31, 2010

WATCH THIS! Pencil Illusion by Adam Johnston of an original drawing by JD Hillberry. .IF YOU LIKE PENCIL DRAWINGS WATCH THIS! For more from JD Hillberry please visit his website
Thankyou to all my subscribers!.

4000 Dominoes!!! - YouTube

4000 Dominoes!!! - YouTube

oaded by on Jul 1, 2007

Exactly 4000 Dominoes including 12 bridges. All were placed by hand except one pivot bridge track. Time to set up: approximately 6 total hours.
Song is Egg Man by the Beastie Boys





Standard YouTube License

Cool Photoshopped pics - YouTube

Cool Photoshopped pics - YouTube

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Python Love

Photos of the Day 02/14 - The Christian Science Monitor -

Erroll Escobar kisses his partner Princess Madrolejo as they pose for photographers while carrying a 16-foot and 200 kg Albino Burmese Python during a Valentine's Day presentation inside a Malabon zoo, north of Manila.
A survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) from December 3 to December 7 last year shows that only three out of 10 Filipinos would change their religion in the name of love. The SWS noted that the unwillingness to change their religion for their loved ones is strong in all religions, a local media reported.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Do You Define Success

Try to discover
The road to success
And you'll seek but never find,
But blaze your own path
And the road to success
Will trail right behind.
~Robert Brault,

Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.

~David Frost


Some people dream of success... while others wake up and work hard at it.
~Author Unknown

Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded! 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time.
~Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book

I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one's business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.
~George Bernard Shaw

To Be Edited

Drew Berry asks many of same questions as Baggini, but his approach to finding the answers is different. At TEDxSydney, Berry animates some of the astonishing processes that happen inside everyone at every moment of every day — revealing that what makes you, you, is more elaborate and much more beautiful than what the naked eye can see.

Explore TEDxTalks on and our Weekly Editor’s Picks from January and discover connections on your own.
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03 February 2012

Robin Ince: “I’ve just realised what I should have done my TED talk on”

Late in January, Robin Ince tweeted:
balls, 7 months too late I’ve just realised what i should have done my TED talk on
So the TED Blog asked: What?
And here is what he wrote:
Every year I attempt to say yes to things that are out of my comfort zone. These are never physical things such as parachute jumps or mountain climbs — I am not so keen on actual death, I am happy to make do with the death of my own self-regard. A TED talk was one of those leaps into abject terror I made in 2011. I had admired these talks for some time and frequently fallen into bouts of voluntary insomnia playing TED talk tag until dawn.
My mistake was that I had never watched the funny ones. I didn’t even know that they existed. So I spent my first month of preparation for TED mulling over how I could create the illusion of being smart. This has been made even more difficult now you are no longer allowed to smoke a pipe onstage, a surefire device to create the illusion of thoughtfulness as successive British Prime Ministers demonstrated.
About a week beforehand I suddenly realized I had gone in totally the wrong direction. I had been asked for to provide levity, not compete with people who were clearly qualified to talk of astrophysics and the evolution of empathy. The wastepaper basket was rapidly filled and a new notebook opened. I gathered together some words on whether it was possible to be happy if approaching the world scientifically. In 8 minutes I hoped to cover love, death and the strong anthropic principle. As it was, I had to drop the strong anthropic principle due to time constraints. It appears that love and death take up more of your allotted eight minutes than you might imagine.
The night before my morning session (“morning session” is a term that strikes terror into the hearts of the predominantly nocturnal comedian), I sat alone in the hotel bar, scribbling and re-scribbling until I had nervously chewed all the ink from the pen.
The blessed relief of not overrunning, and saying most of what I had planned, meant I didn’t start mulling over the talk until I was on the train home. But by the time I walked through the door I had demolished all I had said and, as so often on these occasions, the clear picture I had wanted to see in the buildup only became transparent in the aftermath. To attempt eight minutes summing up happiness through science was preposterous. I now knew the TED talk I should have done, which was about the daily problems I face of attempting to write comedy routines about contemporary physics which both I and a reasonably broad comedy club audience can understand. A world of quark-based conundrums and neutrino dilemmas flooded my mind with a revelation at 7 minutes 34 seconds, which would have been like opening a box and a cat leaping onto your lap.
There is not time for regret — actually that’s not true; if you read French literature you’ll find it can occupy your life. Nevertheless I can’t look back too much and wish I had done something else. The process of terror was in itself fascinating, and I got the chance to enjoy coffees from around the world while listening to speakers who hotwired my mind (coffee and hotwired minds is a stimulating mix). And thanks to Hugh Everett and the many-worlds interpretation, I can be safe in the knowledge that in another world I did deliver the speech I wished I had, and also safe in the knowledge that in that other world I walked off and wished I had attempted something about happiness through science.
– Robin Ince
Watch his TEDTalk, which is really very funny >>
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03 February 2012

Breakthrough solutions: Fellows Friday with Juliette LaMontagne

Juliette LaMontagne
Juliette LaMontagne’s Breaker offers millennials a unique, hands-on alternative learning opportunity — working on projects with serious social impact. Breaker teams take on such challenges as illiteracy and feeding the city, while gaining valuable real-world social entrepreneurship skills.
Take us through the Breaker process — how does it work?
Each three-month Breaker project convenes a multidisciplinary group of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 to design product or service solutions to a global challenge. Projects are led by two visionaries — experts in the field who provide inspiration and context to the challenge. The first project we did, the Future of the Book Challenge, addressed the rise of functional illiteracy in the US, and asked the team to consider how emerging technologies might be harnessed to get adolescents reading. Our current Urban Agribusiness Challenge addresses the need to help urban agriculture grow from small-scale ventures to having a wider social impact.
Over three months, the Breaker team works with a series of collaborators — leading innovators in the field inform the research; industry experts guide the team throughout the process. The team approaches problem-solving using design processes they learn from IDEO, fuseproject, Frog and more; they’re exposed to start-up perspectives by working inside innovation ecosystems like AOL Ventures and QLabs. The project concludes by having the team pitch its products to an audience of all the existing collaborators, as well as members New York’s venture community. We set the bar high, but we also bring in the best of the best to support the process, offering the team access to the people and companies driving innovation in the space.
Majora Carter addresses Breaker team
Majora Carter presents a talk to the Breaker team and project collaborators to kick off the UrbanAg Challenge at the TED amphitheater in NYC. Click to see larger size. Photo: Juliette LaMontagne
Tell us more about the Urban Agribusiness Challenge.
The idea for this project grew out of a conversation I had last year at TED with Majora Carter, Founder of Sustainable South Bronx, about the challenge of and opportunities in New York City urban agriculture. I later invited her to participate in a Breaker challenge as a project visionary. We chose Danielle Gould of Food+Tech Connect as a second visionary to complement Majora because she has an IT-fueled approach to innovation. Once the Breaker team was chosen, we invited a wide range of urban agriculture innovators across New York City to participate. In fact, TED Fellow Viraj Puri’s Gotham Greens — a hydroponic greenhouse — is one of more than 20 research sites included in the first phase of the project. The team will survey sites across sectors — from grower to shipper, seller to consumer. They’ll be identifying needs in various stages of production and consumption, and develop products that might better satisfy these needs and help scale up urban agriculture.
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03 February 2012

TED Conversations in the classroom

Can students learn better by sharing what they know? TED Fellow Nina Tandon believes in the power of sharing ideas and using TED Talks in her classroom. In addition to that, she is now using the TED Conversation platform in the Bioelectricity course that she’s currently teaching at Cooper Union in New York City. After hosting her own conversation on TED Conversations, Nina was inspired to use the platform in her classroom and let students take the role of sharing knowledge and leading discussions with the global community.
Here, Nina Tandon shares her motivation on using TED Conversations in her class:
“I’ve been hosting a class blog each year for the past four years as a way for students to share amongst each other, but this year I wanted to extend our reach into the global community, to have the students engage in “external participation.” I’m hoping that the students will learn by teaching, and will appreciate the unexpected lateral connections that may develop by engaging with the diverse TED community in the context of their developing classroom expertise! It’s an experiment, but I’m really looking forward to seeing how this experience contributes not only to the students’ growth, but hopefully to the TED community as well. Thank you so much to the TED Team for collaborating with us in this exciting endeavor!”
Each week throughout the semester, students will be starting new conversations. You can track them by searching the following tags: TEDinClass and Bioelectricity. Each conversation will be open for 1 week, until the next students starts a new one.
One of the students Samantha Massengill kicks off the conversation series with this question: How immune should science be from the political environment of its time?
And Ariel Habshush suggests an idea: Our bodies are amazing nano/micro electrical factories! and hopes to share his knowledge on this topic throughout the conversation.
You can access all these classroom conversations here as they are added, every week until mid-April. Students will be sharing what they’ve learned during the course on TED Conversations. Come to learn, participate and share, at
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31 January 2012

Announcing a global talent search for TED2013 speakers

The best moments at TED have often come from unexpected places. But this year, we’re pushing that to an entirely new level. We’re staging a global talent search to bring together the most remarkable lineup in TED’s history. A series of public auditions in cities around the world will reveal voices, talents and ideas that delight and surprise. As a result, at least half of our TED2013 program will literally be crowd-sourced through what we’re calling the TED2013 Worldwide Auditions.
Public auditions will be happening in 14 countries on six continents — in Amsterdam, Bangalore, Doha, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Tunis and Vancouver — between April and June 2012. The auditions will be official TED events, and we’ve tapped local TEDx organizers in each city to produce.
Online audition applications, which include the option to upload a short video, will be available for each city at least two months before the audition. From those submissions, TED will invite 30 of the best applicants to each audition, where speakers will have 3-6 minutes to deliver a proposed talk in English. Anyone – with the exception of those who have already spoken at an official TED Conference or have a talk on – is eligible to apply to auditions in his or her nearest city. In some exceptional cases, TED will contribute to travel costs.
Learn more about TED Worldwide Auditions >>
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24 January 2012

New TED Book asks: can changing how we teach make our kids smarter, more creative?

Ten years ago, educator Sugata Mitra and his colleagues cracked open a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed a networked PC, and left it there for the local children to freely explore. What they quickly saw in their ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiment was that kids from one of the most desperately poor areas of the world could, without instruction, quickly learn how the PC operated. The children also freely collaborated, exploring the world of high-tech online connectivity with ease. The experiment (which provided the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire) was the dawning of Mitra’s introduction to self-organized learning, and it would shape the next decade of his research. Beyond the Hole in the Wall: Discover the Power of Self-Organized Learning is an important update to Mitra’s groundbreaking work, and offers new research and ideas that show how self-directed learning can make kids smarter and more creative. Mitra provides step-by-step instruction on how to integrate it into any classroom. and the book includes a foreword by Nicholas Negroponte, founder of both MIT’s Media Lab and the One Laptop per Child Association.. Beyond The Hole in the Wall offers important lessons that could reshape our schools and reinvigorate our educational system. We recently spoke with Mitra about his ideas.
What is self-organized learning?
In most schools, we measure children on what they know. By and large, they have to memorize the content of whatever test is coming up. Because measuring the results of rote learning is easy, rote prevails. What kids know is just not important in comparison with whether they can think.
Self-organized learning is a process where children in groups take on a topic or question which they then research using the Internet. While doing it, they have myriad discussions with each other that deepen their understanding of the answer. Along the way, there is no adult supervision or guidance of any sort.
How is this form of learning better?
Experiments show that children in unsupervised groups are capable of answering questions many years ahead of the material they’re learning in school. In fact, they seem to enjoy the absence of adult supervision, and they are very confident of finding the right answer. Ultimately, they retain the learning effortlessly and for years, much longer than what we see with rote memorization of facts and figures.
What are the barriers that stand in the way of its widespread adoption?
The existing Victorian system of education was created to mass-produce identical human beings, mainly to serve an aristocracy, and, in modern times, an industrial elite. Governments find it difficult to move away from this model, because it has worked. But in a tech-driven knowledge economy this method is not needed anymore, and it will not serve us. But too often we see that teachers and educational administrators feel threatened by self-organized learning. They, therefore, think it is not learning at all.
Does the idea of self-organized learning work better with today’s child, who is often highly wired and making a wide range of online choices each day?
Yes, it does. Right now, we have a generation of children 16 years old or younger who have never known a world without many of the connecting technologies that we take for granted and rely on heavily. How do these devices affect, and even improve, how we absorb information? Self-organized learning would not work at all without the Internet. Educationists have suggested this type of instruction as a method for years, but the resources were not there until recently. Now, with the Internet, we have the means and the capabilities to watch self-organized learning flourish. It’s a very exciting time.
Beyond the Hole in the Wall: Discover the Power of Self-Organized Learning is part of the TED Books series, which is available for the Kindle and Nook as well as on Apple’s iBookstore.
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24 January 2012

Extreme swimming with the world’s most dangerous jellyfish: Diana Nyad on

In the 1970s, Diana Nyad set long-distance swim records that are still unbroken. Thirty years later, at 60, she attempted her longest swim yet, from Cuba to Florida. In this funny, powerful talk at TEDMED, she talks about how to prepare mentally to achieve an extreme dream, and asks: What will YOU do with your wild, precious life? (Recorded at TEDMED 2011, October 2011, in San Diego, California. Duration: 16:58)
Watch Diana Nyad’s talk on, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
Learn more about our content partner TEDMED >>
Watch more talks from our friends at TEDMED on >>
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23 January 2012

Event innovations from TEDx events: We pick 5

TEDx events — powered by passionate volunteer hosts and committed audience members — are hotbeds of innovation, and we’re constantly looking to them for what’s next in event planning, audience participation and outreach. Each month, the TEDx team picks 10 great event ideas bubbling up from the TEDx community, highlighting them in a newsletter and on the TEDx Innovations page on the TEDx site.
We’ve picked five of our January favorites below — see all 10 on the TEDx Innovations page, where you can also sign up for February’s newsletter.
(And if you have a TEDx innovation to share, email
During TEDxValencia, attendees wrote out ideas and thoughts on Post-it notes, which were displayed on a wall during the event. Afterward, the notes were scanned and compiled on an interactive microsite. Learn more from TEDxValencia >
Dez Propaganda commissioned an 18-minute composition for TEDxValedosVinhedos, written by Valmor Pedretti Jr., with vocal contribution from Luiza Caspary. Attendees got a copy of the song on a CD in their gift bags, and you can hear it here >>><
At TEDxDelft, sponsor Senz let attendees test their storm umbrellas — designed with one side longer than the other — against a giant wind machine just outside the venue. Result? Hilarious pics >>
The TEDxAmericanRiviera stage was covered with rectangles of Mylar stretched across iron tubing. During rehearsal, speakers were given white pens and asked to write their “idea worth spreading” on the mylar. The makeshift boards were covered by the end of the day, and gave an amazing close-up when captured on video >>
On TEDxYouthDay, TEDxYouth@Chisinau held a viewing party for 47 young people at the juvenile prison in Lipcani, Moldova. At the end, the group was asked to write what “youth” means to them on a piece of paper, and then to fold a paper plane and fly it through the air. As youth reporter Alexandru Lebedev writes: “Some of them drew prison symbols, others wrote the names of social networks that they have heard about, and some wrote that they want to fall in love, or to love, or to have a family, or to have a house and a place that could give them warmth.” Read the full story on the TEDx blog >>>
See all 10 innovations on the TEDx Innovations page, where you can also sign up for February’s newsletter.
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23 January 2012

A primer on 3D printing: Lisa Harouni on

2012 may be the year of 3D printing, when this three-decade-old technology finally becomes accessible and even commonplace. Lisa Harouni gives a useful introduction to this fascinating way of making things — including intricate objects once impossible to create. (Recorded at TEDSalon London, November 2011, in London, UK. Duration: 14:50)
Watch Lisa Harouni’s talk on, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Uncle Tom's Cabin


Born in Maryland, Josiah Henson worked as a slave for forty-one years. In 1830, he and his family escaped to Upper Canada (Ontario) via the Underground Railroad. Initially, the Henson family settled near Fort Erie, Ontario, where Josiah gained employment through a local farmer. The family then moved to Colchester, in Essex County, where they settled on previously cleared lots. After a period of seven years, Josiah Henson aspired to obtain his own land. In 1841, he moved his family to Dresden and helped to establish the Dawn Settlement. The settlement was established to provide a refuge and a new beginning for former slaves. Through his leadership, the British American Institute, one of Canada's first industrial schools, was founded. The school was intended for the advancement of fugitive slaves. Josiah Henson's name became synonymous with the central character "Uncle Tom" in Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. The novel sold 300,000 copies within the first year and helped to raise awareness to the brutality of slavery. Abraham Lincoln credited the book as being a catalyst of the Civil War. In 1983, Josiah Henson became the first person of African descent to be featured on a Canadian stamp. In 1999, the Government of Canada erected a plaque designating him as a Canadian of National Historical Significance. The plaque stands in the Henson family cemetery.