Human self-consciousness is fundamentally the product of interaction with others.

Men differ basically from their next relatives, the chimpanzees, orang-utans or gorillas. - Comment on 2013 October 27

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Human self-consciousness is less an expression of individual mental ability, but most of all the talent to absorb a cultural system, with which other people communicate, to cooperate and to learn from others. Read more:

Excerpts from an article about scientific research follow:

 

Human self-consciousness exists not on its own, maintains Michael Tomasello, the head of the section development psychology. Fundamentally it is the product of interaction with others. Exactly in this point men differ basically from their next relatives, the chimpanzees, orang-utans or gorillas. Cleverly thought-out studies with young apes show that, which are also on at the Leipzig Max Planck Institute. 2007 the development psychologists Josep Call and Esther Herrmann for example compared the ability of two and a half year old children with those of young chimpanzees. As long as motoric abilities were tested, the apes were better. But in tasks, which required social cognition, the results tuned around: in these points human children are overwhelmingly superior to ape children. “There they are very much better from the beginning”, says Josep Call.

In a bright office in the modern rooms of the institute his boss Michael Tomasello philosophies about the conclusion out of such experiments. Human self-consciousness, says the born American, is less an expression of individual mental ability, but most of all the talent to absorb a cultural system, with which other people communicate, to cooperate and to learn from others. “A child, which would grow up on an isolated island without social contact, would have no more spirit as an adult than an ape. We men are made to put heads together.”

Because men not only perceive their own acts, but also control the art of joint attention, of common attention. Like the two girls in the experiment they have a feel for it when they are focussing their attention with others at the same time upon the same event or an object. “That has a reflexing quality,” says Tomasello and explains this with the help of a seating furniture: “I see the chair, you see the chair. I know that you see the chair. You know that I know that you see the chair. I know that you know that I know that you see the chair, etc.”

This kind of reflexive knowledge is a condition for cooperation. Men brings along this ability almost at the beginning, as Tomasello’s research shows. As evidence he shows a video: two five-year-old boys at a card game. What the boys do not know: Different rules have been given to them for the game. One believes, it is about the sequence of numbers, the other thinks the colours are decisive. The two soon get into a fight. But despite the perfidious design of the experiment the will to find a common solution wins in the end. The right rules of cooperation are so important for the boys that they decide to ask the head of the experiment.

With experimental results like these the Leipzig researchers substantiate their opinion of the consciousness output of men: All primates develop varied interactions in their groups. But men are outstanding as ultra-social beings. Their consciousness comes into being through special and highly developed forms of social abilities, with interaction with others – something, which Tomaseelo calls cultural intelligence. And this kind of cooperative thinking has made the genus Homo sapiens to models of success of evolution. For the development psychologist the human consciousness has most of all come into being in the course of evolution for that reason, because it made it possible for men to act highly effective as a group.

The philosopher Jürgen Habermas praised Tomasello’s research as ingenious. Because it makes it clear that men, differently from apes, could break out of the point of view in their relation to self, steered by own interests. Only man, so Habermas’ subtext, has a free will - and can also act against his own interests.

 

See
2010 Sep 22 – Development of man
2010 Sep 27 – The difference between animal and man
2010 Dez 11 – Pre-Adamites
2012 Jul 16 – Difference between man and animal
2012 Nov 07 – Struggle for existence
2012 Nov 16 – The Rocks
2013 Jan 01 – From level to level through the material world
Creation – Part 4
New Earth. Creations. Paradise.
Harmony on the New Earth.
Nee Earth. Romans 8.
Paradisiacal State on New Earth.
Harmonious Life on the New Earth.
222
223
224

 

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