When do we become aware of self? Well, that is a common question that lingers among our minds. But first of all, what exactly is self-awareness? Gordon Gallup says, "to be self-aware means that you can engage in mental time travel." He goes on to explain that with self-awareness, "you can think about yourself in relationship to things that happened in the past, the present, and may even happen in the future."
In a study done by Oxford mathematician Marcus de Sautoy, consciousness is examined in many different levels. The level that I found most interesting was when we first become aware of ourselves. In order to discover the real answer to this question, Marcus de Sautoy took a look at an experiment called the Mirror-Self Recognition Test.
In the Mirror-Self Recognition Test, young children are placed in front of a mirror with an unknown mark on their face. If the child recognizes the unusual mark on their face, then they are considered to be self-aware. In the demonstration that I watched, a 16-month old boy was put to the test first. After looking in the mirror, he showed no signs of noticing the unusual mark on his face. Next, a 22-month old girl was put in the same situation. This time, the girl almost immediately drew her hand to her face, noting the unusual mark. This proved that she had self-awareness. In conclusion, the usual time frame that we as humans acquire self-awareness is between the ages 18 and 22 months.
Marcus de Soy was interested in the making behind the Mirror-Self Recognition Test, so he went to talk to the inventor; Gordon Gallup. Gordon Gallup explained that he initially devised the Mirror-Self Recognition Test for animals; specifically chimpanzees. Through many experiments, he found that chimpanzees, orangutans, and humans are the only to pass the test so far.
Gordon went on to explain how self-awareness goes deeper, and gets more complicated than just recognizing oneself. He says, "the price you pay for being aware of your own existence is having to confront the inevitability of your own individual demise. Death awareness is the price we pay for self-awareness."
I found all of this information very interesting because I believe that at one point, everyone wonders when they, themselves, become self-aware.The question now, is that does everyone agree on the same thing? Are these findings correct?
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