Evolving Self-Awareness€€

EVELYNE STALZER (evelyne.stalzer@cencore.com)
Tue, 05 Sep 95 13:47:00 -0300

Mike Reid (mreid@thomtech.com) wrote:

MR> As far as becoming "self-aware," this is as difficult to
MR> determine as it is to define. Thought processes are not
MR> preserved in the fossil record.

This is true. But aren't there at least some indications in the
fossil record that can provide evidence for self-awareness? Two
candidates come to mind--burial customs and artwork.

MR> We know that a likely ancestor, Homo habilis, had a large brain
MR> and was making primitive tools more than 2 million years ago,
MR> perhaps long before then.

The difficulty I have with using tool-making as an indicator of
self-awareness is that it is different more in degree than in kind
from the behavior of other animals. Admittedly, that difference in
degree is pretty substantial between a culturally transmitted school
of stone tool making among humans and an opportunistic use of sticks
to collect termites among chimps.

On the other hand, no animals as far as I know practice
representational or abstract art, nor have they developed elaborate
burial customs. (And if I'm wrong, I'm sure the people here will
let me know about it!)

Evelyne Stalzer

* RM 1.3 01313 * The living dead don't need to do word problems.