Chapter

Humans as Applied Motivation Scientists: Self-Consciousness From “Shared Reality” and “Becoming”

E. Tory Higgins

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/9780195161564.003.0006
Humans as Applied Motivation Scientists: Self-Consciousness From “Shared Reality” and “Becoming”

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The chapter supports the continuity view of the evolution of self-consciousness. It argues that self-reflective consciousness is not an autonomous “add on” that is controlled by a particular module of the brain. The chapter presents a gradualist view of the emergence of self-reflective consciousness that is based on increments in freedom from the control of the stimuli from the immediate environment, in sustainable attention, in self-control, and in working memory. The chapter concludes that it is the sustainability of activity in particular networks of the brain in combination with a bodily sense of self that underlies self-reflective consciousness. The chapter uses the premise of continuity theory to present some critical ideas about testing for self-awareness, how conscious and self-conscious processes may be instantiated in the brain. Alternative explanations why human infants and animals frequently fail on tests that are designed to probe the ability to self-reflect.

Keywords: evolution of self-consciousness; continuity theory; self-awareness; consciousness; sustainable attention; self-control; working memory

Chapter.  7434 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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