Question: Human development
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08-05-2013, 09:22 AM
RE: Question: Human development
Hey, FMC

I'm not entirely sure what you're looking for because it seems like a broad question.

The simplest answer I can think of is that it's an ability of the human brain that develops in childhood development.

One of the great human abilities is empathy (this kind of skips WHY we have a realisation of ourselves). Because we do understand the self, we can empathise with others. That's a complex ability that means that we can place ourselves in the mind of someone else. It's very useful in social situations (if I do X, how is the large male going to react, how is the prospective mate going to react...) and there has been some evidence of it in Chimpanzees (highly social primates and our nearest cousins). So when we do something, we aren't just aware of it ourselves, we're aware that other people are aware of it and we can imagine what they must be thinking. This is what leads to embarrassment. If I think other people think people who fart are classless and I let one rip at the gala fundraiser, I may imagine other people in earshot thinking of me as a classless person and thus, I feel embarrassed.

This makes perfect sense in terms of ascending social ladders. If I'm able to anticipate people's reactions, I can adjust my behaviour in order to maximise the return in social status.

Some people imagine what others are thinking but don't give a fuck because they feel themselves above their judgement. This can have positive or negative effects. For smelly slobs who don't give a fuck, they might face ostracism. However, if you're James Dean, you're gonna get laid a lot.

As for the big questions (and this might answer the realisation of ourselves question) human cognition functions by taking in sensory information, abstracting it (because the data flow is too great), categorising those abstractions and assigning symbols to them. We then take that abstracted understanding and the web of symbols, and construct a road map of reality. It's very logic driven. If this then that.

We're always negotiating and renegotiating this map of reality. And we're always looking to fill in blanks. So we're always asking, well if this is this, then what is that? If I exist now, then when did existence begin? If the universe began with a bang, what happened before that?

As far as I can tell, it's all a function of the manner in which human cognition functions. We're sort of impelled to ask questions.

As for the self, I think that it has social implications like I mentioned above, and that the notion of self, the notion of our self and the notion of the other, are just ideas in the schematic of reality that we continually make and remake in our minds.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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08-05-2013, 07:29 PM
RE: Question: Human development
Humans are the only ones that are self aware (self conscious). This is done through the use of a symbolic/analogy style of language which only humans have the capability of using. Each culture starts out with broad overreaching analogies and symbols that supposedly describe everything like religious beliefs, then begins to break down into compartmentalized/different analogies and symbols, like science and philosophy.


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08-05-2013, 07:44 PM
RE: Question: Human development
(08-05-2013 07:29 PM)I and I Wrote:  Humans are the only ones that are self aware (self conscious). This is done through the use of a symbolic/analogy style of language which only humans have the capability of using. Each culture starts out with broad overreaching analogies and symbols that supposedly describe everything like religious beliefs, then begins to break down into compartmentalized/different analogies and symbols, like science and philosophy.


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Then how do animals with larger brains pass the mirror test?
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08-05-2013, 08:03 PM
RE: Question: Human development
(06-05-2013 08:52 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Being able to perceive into the future, is a big time advantage. If an organism is capable of thinking about an hour ahead, they have an advantage over the organism that can only react to its environment in the present.

It doesn't seem like that big of a leap that once organisms start using their brains to think of scenarios in the future, they will use experiences in the past. So, maybe it all starts as a series of questions about the past, to gain an advantage in the future and the present?

A lion contemplates its next meal, and "asks" itself "questions" about its last meal. Take away the constant search for food (agriculture, social behaviors like communities, etc) and organisms begin to use their brains for things other than food and sex.

Killer Whales play with their food. Dolphins play with each other. So do most all social organisms. These all seem like precursors to asking deeper philosophical questions to me.




There is a great book that agrees with you entirely about this. The great Sociologist Robert N. Bellah thinks play was the great leap forward. He wrote a great book, "Religion in Human Evolution", and it is the central thesis. He talks a lot about play. You probably know of it, in your field. Well worth a read.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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09-05-2013, 07:35 AM
RE: Question: Human development
(08-05-2013 07:29 PM)I and I Wrote:  Humans are the only ones that are self aware (self conscious). This is done through the use of a symbolic/analogy style of language which only humans have the capability of using. Each culture starts out with broad overreaching analogies and symbols that supposedly describe everything like religious beliefs, then begins to break down into compartmentalized/different analogies and symbols, like science and philosophy.


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You have just about everything wrong, there.

It is clear that other animals are self-aware, e.g. dogs, dolphins.

Other species also have rudimentary symbolic communication.

And no culture 'starts out' with anything. Cultures are created from commonalities, not vice versa.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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09-05-2013, 10:53 AM
RE: Question: Human development
http://www.scientificamerican.com/articl...ecognition

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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