What is it Like to be a Newborn?

Philippe Rochat

in The Oxford Handbook of the Self

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199548019
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 What is it Like to be a Newborn?

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Mind


Show Summary Details


This article examines what might constitute the first manifestation of consciousness in the life of an individual, focusing on the subjective starting state of newborns. It presents evidence showing that we are born with some minimal self-awareness, a kind of awareness that might even be present in foetuses depending on the criteria used. It investigates the mechanisms that might account for how self-awareness quickly evolves from being minimal and phenomenal in the context of sensation, perception, and action and discusses the innate propensity of newborns to detect sameness in the experience of things that surround them. It identifies two putative mechanisms that would support an innate propensity to detect sameness: synesthesia and the vicariousness of experience.

Keywords: consciousness; newborns; self-awareness; sensation; perception; action; sameness; synesthesia; experience

Article.  10349 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Philosophy of Mind

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.