Imagine being under a lot of stone age people and you are the only one who thinks something like "Hey I am a human being, and now I am thinking about this and that and maybe I change myself to become a better person". You would see the world in a totally different way. No one would understand your behaviour because nobody thinks about himself (self-aware) or sees the world as you do.

So my question is: How did we get self-aware? how did we develop this "feature"? And why did we develop this, how could the nature think that this would be an advantage?

There has to be a small "jump". I mean, somebody has to be the first who thought about himself. Either you know (or think about) that you are a being or you don't. So you can't just be a little self-aware right?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ There is no scientific consensus on this. The very nature of consciousness / sentience / self-awareness has been debated for centuries but is still not well understood. Some people argue like you do that self-awareness is a "jump", while others think that it is gradual. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness for some more information. $\endgroup$
    – Roland
    Aug 10, 2016 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ Agree with Roland. I just want to add that you assume a first, remarkable jump toward self-awarness but there is eventually a gradient of self-awarness (as you suggested in the last line of your question) and the position in any individual on this gradient also depends on social experience. Note also that there is no reason to think that such feature had been under direct effect of selection but may have evolved as a correlated side effect of some other trait. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Aug 10, 2016 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ The use of the term "feature" instead of "trait" and "develop" instead of "evolve" made me thing that you might eventually want to follow an very short introductory course to evolutionary biology such as Understanding Evolution by UC Berkeley for example. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Aug 10, 2016 at 15:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ When talking about the evolution of self-awarness or other psychologic trait (evolutionary psychology), we often fall into a field where (1) empirical test of predictions are difficult to perform and (2) terms for which we have vague intuition need formal definition to be properly tackled and (2a) not everybody end up agreeing on a definition and (2b) there might not exist a natural category which corresponds closely enough to our vague intuitive understanding of a concept. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Aug 10, 2016 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ I think that through hunting all the time the ability of communication was more and more important. A failure of understanding could have ended in a disaster. Through communication they organised themselves and looked for the best way to hunt in group. Because of this they could have been thinking how to hunt better and, to work in a group the best way, how to be better in order to provide better understanding (social intelligence). Couldn't that be a possible way how this has evolved? $\endgroup$
    – asparagus
    Aug 11, 2016 at 8:46


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