Chapter

A Continuum of Self-Consciousness That Emerges in Phylogeny and Ontogeny

Marcel Kinsbourne

in The Missing Link in Cognition

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780195161564
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848386 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161564.003.0005
A Continuum of Self-Consciousness That Emerges in Phylogeny and Ontogeny

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The chapter gives full detail about how self-reflective consciousness emerges during the development of the child. The chapter stresses the importance of language. Episodic memory is thought to depend on self-narrative that is itself dependent upon sophisticated language abilities that do not display themselves until at least late toddlerhood. The chapter weaves the interconnection between language and self-reflective consciousness, with episodic memory. The chapter traces the emergence during ontogenesis of a specifically human kind of consciousness from a more primitive awareness. Developments in infancy awaken the initial sense of self but its further development at the reflective and narrative levels are constrained by the use of symbolic representations among social groups. Reflective consciousness relies on the kind of social interactions made possible by simple language and gesture or mime. These lead in normal development in natural language-using environments to more complex language and abstract symbolic social interactions.

Keywords: self-reflective consciousness; episodic memory; language abilities; ontogenesis; symbolic representations

Chapter.  6540 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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