What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Discuss the February 2015 philosophy book of the month, The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson.
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The_architect
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What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by The_architect » July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am

Does self-awareness have a purpose? What and why is its purpose? Why do we need self-awareness? Does self-awareness differ among humans?

Self-awareness in its simplest definition is an ability, stemming from the brain (or does it?), that separates humans from all other beings. It is the ability to create thought as opposed to having only instincts. Or, can you have self-awareness without thought? Animals have some self-awareness or they wouldn't be able to calculate the moves needed to produce a wanted outcome. At the least, they are making deductions. A tiger, the predator, positions himself purposefully as it reacts to visual prey. It chooses its moment to strike and releases the pheromones of intrepidity or fearlessness. For prey, the sense of both this danger and fear (also releasing pheromones) is instinctive for their survival. The deer that senses danger and has fear, is communicated to all other deer nearby. Humans are of heightened self-awareness at the cost of their own instincts. However, human instincts are both genetic and honed: some may have a stronger instinct than another.

Is self-awareness one of our instincts for survival given our environment or simply a genetic, human trait based on the increased complexity of the brain organ? If it is for survival, how are we otherwise vulnerable? For environmental conditions/weather? We are not prey to animals, they have more vulnerable resources for food than ourselves. Vigilance is a type of physical self-awareness that varies in humans and is heightened in dangerous/fearful conditions in conjunction with adrenaline. But animals also are vigilant and have adrenaline.

Virtual self-awareness, the knowing you exist in your own, inner world within a greater, outer world, has what purpose? Self-awareness defined as the capacity to ask why one exists is actually the power to philosophize. If we did not have thought as we know it, would we still be self-aware? Yes, as we can be without thoughts and are still self-aware though it is difficult to not think. The power to think abstractly, or concerning those things that do not have to do with our survival, is the self-awareness most of us speak of. It is the power to imagine within and outside of our own reality. Within, it is the awareness of body in relation to ourselves (which animals have to an extent but is more in relation to the outer world) and of our mind. Outside, it is the ability to conceptualize beyond our reality. Of the mind, it is the capacity to control our thoughts and imagination where animals do not. To what purpose?

Humans are both predator and prey under different circumstances. We know which mode we are in and can be in both at the same time physically, intellectually or emotionally. We are prey to certain weather conditions therefore we have the imagination to protect ourselves from the elements. But protecting ourselves this way is almost instinctive. Feeding ourselves could be instinctive. This is awareness of our physical self. Striving/resilience could be instinctive. The virtual presence of the mind, with controlled thought and where it has nothing to do with survival, is self-awareness both intellectually and emotionally. It is the ability to define and think of anything, real or imagined. It is the ability to choose and/or change your response to any given intellectual or emotional action/reaction. The purpose, then, of self-awareness is the cohesiveness and survivability of humankind for and from each other.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by Terrapin Station » July 21st, 2020, 8:51 am

The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Self-awareness in its simplest definition is an ability, stemming from the brain (or does it?), that separates humans from all other beings. It is the ability to create thought as opposed to having only instincts.
This idea has always struck me as a very odd one. How in the world would we know it to be the case?

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by Faustus5 » July 21st, 2020, 9:00 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
July 21st, 2020, 8:51 am
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Self-awareness in its simplest definition is an ability, stemming from the brain (or does it?), that separates humans from all other beings. It is the ability to create thought as opposed to having only instincts.
This idea has always struck me as a very odd one. How in the world would we know it to be the case?
Not only that, but a case could be made that self awareness should be understood to begin with any organism that has evolved the ability to distinguish its own body from the environment around it. That's a pretty important skill, and wouldn't we want to at least start with bacteria at the very least?

Question of the OP answered.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by Gertie » July 21st, 2020, 11:12 am

The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Does self-awareness have a purpose? What and why is its purpose? Why do we need self-awareness? Does self-awareness differ among humans?

Self-awareness in its simplest definition is an ability, stemming from the brain (or does it?), that separates humans from all other beings. It is the ability to create thought as opposed to having only instincts. Or, can you have self-awareness without thought? Animals have some self-awareness or they wouldn't be able to calculate the moves needed to produce a wanted outcome. At the least, they are making deductions. A tiger, the predator, positions himself purposefully as it reacts to visual prey. It chooses its moment to strike and releases the pheromones of intrepidity or fearlessness. For prey, the sense of both this danger and fear (also releasing pheromones) is instinctive for their survival. The deer that senses danger and has fear, is communicated to all other deer nearby. Humans are of heightened self-awareness at the cost of their own instincts. However, human instincts are both genetic and honed: some may have a stronger instinct than another.

Is self-awareness one of our instincts for survival given our environment or simply a genetic, human trait based on the increased complexity of the brain organ? If it is for survival, how are we otherwise vulnerable? For environmental conditions/weather? We are not prey to animals, they have more vulnerable resources for food than ourselves. Vigilance is a type of physical self-awareness that varies in humans and is heightened in dangerous/fearful conditions in conjunction with adrenaline. But animals also are vigilant and have adrenaline.

Virtual self-awareness, the knowing you exist in your own, inner world within a greater, outer world, has what purpose? Self-awareness defined as the capacity to ask why one exists is actually the power to philosophize. If we did not have thought as we know it, would we still be self-aware? Yes, as we can be without thoughts and are still self-aware though it is difficult to not think. The power to think abstractly, or concerning those things that do not have to do with our survival, is the self-awareness most of us speak of. It is the power to imagine within and outside of our own reality. Within, it is the awareness of body in relation to ourselves (which animals have to an extent but is more in relation to the outer world) and of our mind. Outside, it is the ability to conceptualize beyond our reality. Of the mind, it is the capacity to control our thoughts and imagination where animals do not. To what purpose?

Humans are both predator and prey under different circumstances. We know which mode we are in and can be in both at the same time physically, intellectually or emotionally. We are prey to certain weather conditions therefore we have the imagination to protect ourselves from the elements. But protecting ourselves this way is almost instinctive. Feeding ourselves could be instinctive. This is awareness of our physical self. Striving/resilience could be instinctive. The virtual presence of the mind, with controlled thought and where it has nothing to do with survival, is self-awareness both intellectually and emotionally. It is the ability to define and think of anything, real or imagined. It is the ability to choose and/or change your response to any given intellectual or emotional action/reaction. The purpose, then, of self-awareness is the cohesiveness and survivability of humankind for and from each other.
Self-awareness is one of those hard to pin down terms, but I'd suggest at its simplest for humans at least, it is a sense of being a discrete, unified being, located in space and time, with a first person pov - correllated to a specific body.

To explain it, as far as we can explain anything about consciousness, we can look to neurobiology and evolution. We know conscious experiential states correlate with brain processes, so we can examine those processes. And note there doesn't appear to be a 'Self' region of the brain, it doesn't seem to work like a Cartesian theatre with a Self located in the command and control centre, watching the incoming info, making decisions and issuing instructions to motor systems. Which suggests that this distinct human sense of self emerges from the incredibly complex inter-connectivity of our brains.

Evolutionarily speaking, this makes sense. For such complex critters as humans with 5 senses, emotions, sensations, memory, thinking, imagining, remembering, etc, it would be a useless incoherent cacophany without the features which unify, focus and create a coherent pov. The thinky narrative voice in our head seems to play a similar role, in creating a coherent linguistic narrative (sometimes perhaps post hoc), expanding our ability to model the world and our self, and our role, our identity. Using word symbols to identify objects and create ideas, and manipulate them in our minds. There are endless evolutionary advantages, we can successfully navigate and adapt our environment, make predictions, reason, plan, impulse control, social cooperation, etc. Or sometimes quick and dirty instinctive reactions just kick in, when an instant response is potentially most beneficial. Many of these more instinctive functons are pre-social and pre-linguistic, from a time when survival/homeostasis/reproduction was everything, but that 'lizzard brain' part of us is still useful from an evolutionary perspective, still part of us.

Can you have self-awareness without that thinky voice? Depends on your definition. I think other sophisticated species probably do in terms of recognising they are embodied with a first person pov with a relationship to an 'external' world in some way, but it would be different to our linguistic and conceptualised model. That's the ability the mirror test with eg apes tries to identify, and something toddlers develop. When the experiential states begin to resolve into a model of a specific, identifiable Me.

Or you could loosen your definition to any conscious critter which has some experiential (what it's like) awareness, if not as a specific self. I'd guess it's a scale.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by h_k_s » July 23rd, 2020, 7:22 pm

The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Does self-awareness have a purpose? What and why is its purpose? Why do we need self-awareness? Does self-awareness differ among humans?

Self-awareness in its simplest definition is an ability, stemming from the brain (or does it?), that separates humans from all other beings. It is the ability to create thought as opposed to having only instincts. Or, can you have self-awareness without thought? Animals have some self-awareness or they wouldn't be able to calculate the moves needed to produce a wanted outcome. At the least, they are making deductions. A tiger, the predator, positions himself purposefully as it reacts to visual prey. It chooses its moment to strike and releases the pheromones of intrepidity or fearlessness. For prey, the sense of both this danger and fear (also releasing pheromones) is instinctive for their survival. The deer that senses danger and has fear, is communicated to all other deer nearby. Humans are of heightened self-awareness at the cost of their own instincts. However, human instincts are both genetic and honed: some may have a stronger instinct than another.

Is self-awareness one of our instincts for survival given our environment or simply a genetic, human trait based on the increased complexity of the brain organ? If it is for survival, how are we otherwise vulnerable? For environmental conditions/weather? We are not prey to animals, they have more vulnerable resources for food than ourselves. Vigilance is a type of physical self-awareness that varies in humans and is heightened in dangerous/fearful conditions in conjunction with adrenaline. But animals also are vigilant and have adrenaline.

Virtual self-awareness, the knowing you exist in your own, inner world within a greater, outer world, has what purpose? Self-awareness defined as the capacity to ask why one exists is actually the power to philosophize. If we did not have thought as we know it, would we still be self-aware? Yes, as we can be without thoughts and are still self-aware though it is difficult to not think. The power to think abstractly, or concerning those things that do not have to do with our survival, is the self-awareness most of us speak of. It is the power to imagine within and outside of our own reality. Within, it is the awareness of body in relation to ourselves (which animals have to an extent but is more in relation to the outer world) and of our mind. Outside, it is the ability to conceptualize beyond our reality. Of the mind, it is the capacity to control our thoughts and imagination where animals do not. To what purpose?

Humans are both predator and prey under different circumstances. We know which mode we are in and can be in both at the same time physically, intellectually or emotionally. We are prey to certain weather conditions therefore we have the imagination to protect ourselves from the elements. But protecting ourselves this way is almost instinctive. Feeding ourselves could be instinctive. This is awareness of our physical self. Striving/resilience could be instinctive. The virtual presence of the mind, with controlled thought and where it has nothing to do with survival, is self-awareness both intellectually and emotionally. It is the ability to define and think of anything, real or imagined. It is the ability to choose and/or change your response to any given intellectual or emotional action/reaction. The purpose, then, of self-awareness is the cohesiveness and survivability of humankind for and from each other.
Philosophy talks a lot about self improvement.

And in order to accomplish self improvement you need self awareness.

Simple syllogism.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by h_k_s » July 23rd, 2020, 7:24 pm

Faustus5 wrote:
July 21st, 2020, 9:00 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
July 21st, 2020, 8:51 am


This idea has always struck me as a very odd one. How in the world would we know it to be the case?
Not only that, but a case could be made that self awareness should be understood to begin with any organism that has evolved the ability to distinguish its own body from the environment around it. That's a pretty important skill, and wouldn't we want to at least start with bacteria at the very least?

Question of the OP answered.
Bacteria only eat, reproduce, and die. Not much self awareness there. Do you see any?

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by Faustus5 » July 24th, 2020, 7:25 am

h_k_s wrote:
July 23rd, 2020, 7:24 pm
Bacteria only eat, reproduce, and die. Not much self awareness there. Do you see any?
Self awareness, like anything else, had to have evolved in tiny, incremental steps over time. Arguably, one of the first steps in this journey is the ability of an organism to distinguish between self and non-self. (Can something even count as an organism without such a talent? Doubtful.)

Whether you define self awareness at this first step or add requirements later on is arbitrary, more like taking a political or aesthetic stance than a judgment that could be factually right or wrong.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by Gertie » July 24th, 2020, 2:06 pm

Faustus5 wrote:
July 24th, 2020, 7:25 am
h_k_s wrote:
July 23rd, 2020, 7:24 pm
Bacteria only eat, reproduce, and die. Not much self awareness there. Do you see any?
Self awareness, like anything else, had to have evolved in tiny, incremental steps over time. Arguably, one of the first steps in this journey is the ability of an organism to distinguish between self and non-self. (Can something even count as an organism without such a talent? Doubtful.)

Whether you define self awareness at this first step or add requirements later on is arbitrary, more like taking a political or aesthetic stance than a judgment that could be factually right or wrong.
The term awareness is usually used to differentiate from the physical processes going on, to include a 'what it's like' experience associated with those processes. Not all physical processes seem to have the phenomenal experiential element.

Self-awareness includes a 'what it's like' experience of being a specific Me.

I agree these steps evolved gradually and will have fuzzy boundaries. But there is still a significant difference between purely physical processes, say my toaster operating which mechanically responds to the presence of bread, and an aware Me. I feel hungry, decide I fancy toast, know I have a toaster, remeber how to use it, enjoy eating it, etc.

It's doubtful simple organisms like bacteria have 'what it's like' awareness at all, it looks like purely physically processes going on there.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by Faustus5 » July 24th, 2020, 2:24 pm

Gertie wrote:
July 24th, 2020, 2:06 pm

It's doubtful simple organisms like bacteria have 'what it's like' awareness at all, it looks like purely physically processes going on there.
Well, I think it's beyond just "doubtful"--the very idea that a bacteria has "what it's like" awareness strikes me as absurd!

My point is that

A] the starting place for self awareness has to be the most primitive organism's ability to discern self from environment, and

B] you get to "proper" self awareness by adding more and more sophisticated talents to the mix until you cross a vague, fuzzy boundary and are satisfied.

Different people using different approaches and definitions will drawn the lines in different places, and that's just fine--as a concept there is a lot to "self awareness" that is normative. It isn't like "mass" or "charge".

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by Gertie » July 25th, 2020, 2:46 pm

Faustus5 wrote:
July 24th, 2020, 2:24 pm
Gertie wrote:
July 24th, 2020, 2:06 pm

It's doubtful simple organisms like bacteria have 'what it's like' awareness at all, it looks like purely physically processes going on there.
Well, I think it's beyond just "doubtful"--the very idea that a bacteria has "what it's like" awareness strikes me as absurd!

My point is that

A] the starting place for self awareness has to be the most primitive organism's ability to discern self from environment, and

B] you get to "proper" self awareness by adding more and more sophisticated talents to the mix until you cross a vague, fuzzy boundary and are satisfied.

Different people using different approaches and definitions will drawn the lines in different places, and that's just fine--as a concept there is a lot to "self awareness" that is normative. It isn't like "mass" or "charge".
My view is that a sense of being a discrete, unified self with a first person pov is probably a novel emergent property resulting from complexity. When there is a bundle of experiential subsystems of a certain level of complexity present, there arises a need to produce a coherent, if basic, model of one's self and the world 'out there' in order to prioritise attention, focus and make sense of what would otherwise be a cacophany of sensations, perceptions, etc.

So I don't think there is 'a little bit' of a sense of self in very simple creatures with maybe one or two experiential systems. Awareness is obviously necessary to self-awareness, but anything worth calling the latter is probably absent in simple conscious experiencing creatures.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by evolution » July 26th, 2020, 1:55 am

The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Does self-awareness have a purpose?
Yes.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
What and why is its purpose?
What the purpose of 'self-awareness' is to become aware of thee 'Self', obviously, or as some one else might put it; To know thy 'Self'.

The very purpose and reason WHY to KNOW thy 'Self' is because 'I', or WE, can not KNOW what 'it' is that we Truly WANT if we do NOT YET KNOW what 'it' IS, which we Truly ARE.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Why do we need self-awareness?
So that the question, 'Who am 'I'?' can be be answered, properly and correctly, once, and for ALL.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Does self-awareness differ among humans?
Only if and when different answers are given to the question, 'Who am 'I'?' by different human beings.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Self-awareness in its simplest definition is an ability, stemming from the brain (or does it?), that separates humans from all other beings.
So, if this is the case, then because 'you', human beings, are obviously NOT YET at the stage of being able to answer, properly and correctly, the question 'Who am 'I'?' then this would logically mean that human being are NOT YET separate from all other beings.

To me, 'Self-awareness', in its simplest definition, is thee Self being aware of who and what 'It' Truly IS.

What I see is the distinction between human beings and all other animals is that human beings HAVE the ability to learn, understand, and reason ANY thing and EVERY thing. To me, NO other animal, being, NOR thing has this ABILITY, nor in fact really even comes close to having this ability.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
It is the ability to create thought as opposed to having only instincts.
Although the human body creates 'thought', (which may or may not come from the brain), other animals also create what could be considered 'thought'. Otherwise, what is 'it', which they translate and/or share among each other of the same species through whatever language that they use?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Or, can you have self-awareness without thought?
Considering just how much further ahead and up along the evolution ladder, in regards to intelligence and 'thought', which 'you', human beings, are compared to any other known animal or thing, then it would be very surprising that one could be aware of what its actual Self IS, without some sort of 'thought' or 'language'.

If an animal has NO 'thought' but only 'emotions/feelings', then could it actually be 'aware', 'knowledge' wise, or in the sense of 'thinking' and/or 'knowing'?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Animals have some self-awareness or they wouldn't be able to calculate the moves needed to produce a wanted outcome.
Do animals have some 'self-awareness', itself? Or, just have some some sense of being a separate identity, with just an internal desire, which drives 'them' to keep living, instinctively?

Are animals born 'aware' of thy 'Self'? Or, is KNOWING thy Self, or being 'Self-aware', a continual, ongoing, and evolving process?

Is ANY 'one' 'Self-aware' or does one 'become' Self-aware?

Are human beings born KNOWING thy 'Self', of do 'they' come-to-be KNOWN?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
At the least, they are making deductions.
This is because they instinctively WANT TO LIVE. WANTING to keep living is what ALL living things WANT and DESIRE, NATURALLY.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
A tiger, the predator, positions himself purposefully as it reacts to visual prey. It chooses its moment to strike and releases the pheromones of intrepidity or fearlessness. For prey, the sense of both this danger and fear (also releasing pheromones) is instinctive for their survival. The deer that senses danger and has fear, is communicated to all other deer nearby. Humans are of heightened self-awareness at the cost of their own instincts.
Are they?

And, what conclusion do they arrive at of who and/or what this 'self' IS, when they are at this heightened stage of 'self-awareness', supposedly, at the cost of their own instincts?

Also, is one's 'own' instincts different than "another's" IS?

If yes, then HOW?

HOW could one of a 'species' have different 'instincts' than that of the EXACT SAME 'species'?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
However, human instincts are both genetic and honed: some may have a stronger instinct than another.
Will you provide any examples of how human 'instincts', are 'honed'?

If some thing is 'honed', then does that not conflict with it being an 'instinct'?

Also, will you provide examples of who these 'some' are who have, supposed, "stronger instincts" than "another"?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Is self-awareness one of our instincts for survival given our environment or simply a genetic, human trait based on the increased complexity of the brain organ?
What is, supposedly, so 'complex' about the human brain?

The human brain just works like a computer does. Just what is fed into it, only that can be fed out of it. But, because of the Truly OPEN Mind, the human brain can add two or more pieces of input information together, and then output new or more information. This is because the Mind, which is ALWAYS OPEN, is able to learn, understand, and reason ANY and EVERY thing.

Self-awareness is just a natural eliminating process, through and from evolution, itself.

Just because human beings might work out who and what they actually ARE, that does NOT mean that that 'self-awareness' alone will STOP them from being greedy and wiping themselves out to extinction.

Who and what thy True Self REALLY IS SURVIVES no matter if 'It' becomes aware of Its Self or not.

Self-awareness is nothing other than a process, which happens and occurs in an intelligent enough species. The name 'human being' just happens to be name given to the species, which has through evolution, itself, evolved into being the intelligent enough species to work out who and what thy True Self IS. Although this is still an on-going process.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
If it is for survival, how are we otherwise vulnerable?
As, minutely and partly, explained already, 'self-awareness' is NOT for survival.

Also, 'you', human beings, are vulnerable in all sorts of ways. In fact 'you' are your own worst enemy. If thee Truth be KNOWN 'you', human beings, are more vulnerable from your own 'selves' than from just about any thing else, in the times of when this is being written.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
For environmental conditions/weather? We are not prey to animals,
'you', human beings, may not be prey to animals, but 'you' are certainly 'hosts' and 'life-source' to bacteria and viruses, and thus 'prey', in one sense of that word.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
they have more vulnerable resources for food than ourselves. Vigilance is a type of physical self-awareness that varies in humans and is heightened in dangerous/fearful conditions in conjunction with adrenaline. But animals also are vigilant and have adrenaline.
Are you able to explain HOW this phenomena that 'self-awareness' is, supposedly, "heightened" in dangerous/fearful conditions in conjunction with adrenaline?

I have NOT YET heard of any one claiming to become more 'self-aware' when they have had an adrenaline rush. But, I have heard lots of stories where people have "fought or flown" when they have had rushes of adrenaline. They do this in order to stay alive and keep living only, from what I can ascertain. I have certainly NOT observed any one who has had a sense of 'fight or flight' in order to just consider, and/or "sit down", to work out 'Who am 'I' actually?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Virtual self-awareness, the knowing you exist in your own, inner world within a greater, outer world, has what purpose?
None that I can SEE.

Also, does any one REALLY know they exist in some little, so called, "inner world" within a bigger, greater, and, so called, "outer world".

To me, most people that I have had contact with observe and agree that they actual exist and live in One 'world' ONLY. Although, OBVIOUSLY, most people make up their own little 'worlds' of how they would like and want things to be, or BELIEVE things are or should be like.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Self-awareness defined as the capacity to ask why one exists is actually the power to philosophize.
Why one exists becomes KNOWN when who and what 'one' Truly IS is uncovered and realized.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
If we did not have thought as we know it, would we still be self-aware?
Are you suggesting that 'you' are 'self-aware' ALREADY?

If yes, then who and/or what is that 'self' EXACTLY?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Yes, as we can be without thoughts and are still self-aware though it is difficult to not think.
So, you say, "Yes". Now, how could a 'thing' actually still be 'self-aware' without 'thoughts/thinking'?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
The power to think abstractly, or concerning those things that do not have to do with our survival, is the self-awareness most of us speak of. It is the power to imagine within and outside of our own reality.
How do 'you' decipher what is within and what is outside of your own, so called, "reality"? Other than by just what you say "is in" and what you say "is out"?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Within, it is the awareness of body in relation to ourselves (which animals have to an extent but is more in relation to the outer world) and of our mind. Outside, it is the ability to conceptualize beyond our reality. Of the mind, it is the capacity to control our thoughts and imagination where animals do not. To what purpose?
If you REALLY want to KNOW the 'purpose', then you WILL FIRST 'have to' explain FULLY what 'it' is that 'you' are saying, and asking here. For example, what is this 'mind' thing, which you mention here. What does 'it' do, and how does 'it' work?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Humans are both predator and prey under different circumstances. We know which mode we are in and can be in both at the same time physically, intellectually or emotionally. We are prey to certain weather conditions therefore we have the imagination to protect ourselves from the elements.
Well considering EVERY species of animal, microscopic bacteria, viruses, and even plants is able to 'protect' its selves from the elements, then does this also suggest that ALL of these things have imagination?

If yes, then okay.

But if no, then maybe a little more imagination, itself, might be best done here, correct?
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
But protecting ourselves this way is almost instinctive.
Are you suggesting that a species protecting its self from death is "almost" instinctive?

If yes, then I would suggest that a species protecting its self from death is 'outright' instinctive.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Feeding ourselves could be instinctive.
I think you might find that doing what it takes to stay alive and keep living, like a species feeding its self, IS ACTUALLY instinctive.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
This is awareness of our physical self.
'What' IS "awareness of our physical self"?

To me, what the species known as 'human being' is actually 'aware' of, in sense of the physical body, is 'awareness of its physical self'. I am NOT sure what else could be 'awareness of our physical self'.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
Striving/resilience could be instinctive.
To me, just being alive, and living, is instinctive.

'Striving' and 'resilience' are things conceptualized, in order to 'obtain' or 'deal with'.

To me, only human beings 'strive'. For example, they 'strive' to obtain more money, or 'strive' to obtain acceptance by the peers of their species. This is certainly NOT 'instinctive', from my perspective. This is learned behavior, which was caused by greed and judging.
The_architect wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 4:36 am
The virtual presence of the mind, with controlled thought and where it has nothing to do with survival, is self-awareness both intellectually and emotionally. It is the ability to define and think of anything, real or imagined. It is the ability to choose and/or change your response to any given intellectual or emotional action/reaction. The purpose, then, of self-awareness is the cohesiveness and survivability of humankind for and from each other.
If you say so, but are you able to elaborate on this and explain it so it makes sense?

If yes, then will you?

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by detail » July 27th, 2020, 6:29 am

I think this is equivalent to the japanese question of jiriki no jiko no kangaemasu , which is related to hegel theory of logics.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by The_architect » July 27th, 2020, 10:30 am

What if self-awareness is a human INSTINCT rather than a separate ability apart from our instincts? Are we ALL and ONLY instinct? In biological terms, we are animals but VERY unusual ones. We are so apart from the animal and vegetation kingdoms in SHAPE it demands the theory we came from aliens/creator. The only reason we probably don't consider our cognitive abilities as an instinct individual to us is that its virtualness implies some type of continuation after death (our physicalness).

Imagine us without our 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) and you have nothingness, no sensation, but there probably is still a sense of PRESENCE that animals also have and as far as they go. Without our senses it is dark (or whatever it is if you don't have sight, could be red you "see" rather than black), silent, no odor, no taste, no touching. However, we do touch the air, an invisible, weightless shell surrounding us all and everything else with a surface. This wasn't known until discovered.

What we don't know we will always come to know. But there will always be and endless string of what we don't know. Unless there exists a ceiling of knowing, which, once reached, is started over in a new series of lives.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by Angel Trismegistus » July 27th, 2020, 2:39 pm

Whatever self-awareness means, if by "purpose" is meant the immediate end served by the phenomenon, then the answer is given in the question: namely, awareness of self.

If by "purpose" is meant a mediate end served by the phenomenon, that is to say, the end served by awareness of self, then the answer trenches on teleology and all manner of metaphysical speculation may be entertained.

Presumably, according to the evolutionary narrative currently generally accepted, self-awareness is a favored trait that bestows some advantage in the struggle for survival. But this would be a causal account and evolutionary theory eschews teleology.

If we read "purpose" therefore as broadly asking for a reason for the phenomenon of self-awareness, then we might take its cause as the reason for its existence and answer: survival.

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Re: What is the purpose of self-awareness?

Post by h_k_s » July 27th, 2020, 7:27 pm

Gertie wrote:
July 24th, 2020, 2:06 pm
Faustus5 wrote:
July 24th, 2020, 7:25 am


Self awareness, like anything else, had to have evolved in tiny, incremental steps over time. Arguably, one of the first steps in this journey is the ability of an organism to distinguish between self and non-self. (Can something even count as an organism without such a talent? Doubtful.)

Whether you define self awareness at this first step or add requirements later on is arbitrary, more like taking a political or aesthetic stance than a judgment that could be factually right or wrong.
The term awareness is usually used to differentiate from the physical processes going on, to include a 'what it's like' experience associated with those processes. Not all physical processes seem to have the phenomenal experiential element.

Self-awareness includes a 'what it's like' experience of being a specific Me.

I agree these steps evolved gradually and will have fuzzy boundaries. But there is still a significant difference between purely physical processes, say my toaster operating which mechanically responds to the presence of bread, and an aware Me. I feel hungry, decide I fancy toast, know I have a toaster, remeber how to use it, enjoy eating it, etc.

It's doubtful simple organisms like bacteria have 'what it's like' awareness at all, it looks like purely physically processes going on there.
Thank you for agreeing.

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