What is consciousness of self?

“Who am I?” This age-old question has perplexed us for centuries. But what is it that makes us so intrigued with self-identity? Perhaps, it’s all about outdoing our friends in philosophical debates or simply satisfying the curiosity of knowing ourselves better. Whatever be your answer, we can both agree that discussing the concept of consciousness of self has never been this funny.

The Concept of Consciousness – An Overview

Let’s start by clarifying some basic concepts. What is consciousness? It refers to a state where an individual experiences sensations and perceptions along with awareness about their surroundings or inner thoughts (that nobody else can hear!) To put it more straightforwardly – If you know what you’re feeling or thinking right now, congratulations! You are conscious!

But wait! There’s more (this article turns out to be exciting!). Within consciousness lies another critical aspect known as ‘consciousness-of-self.’ As humans (the ones reading at least), we have the ability to possess knowledge and perception regarding ourselves (Yes, even those oddly-shaped moles on your back) irrespective 0f whether they accurately reflect how others may view us.

The Origin Story: How do We become Self-Aware?

You might ask yourself – “When did I begin being aware?” Let me present one interesting theory – According to cognitive psychologist George Butterworth, infants develop ‘self-awareness’ when looking in a mirror at around eighteen months old (That explains why babies usually ignore mirrors before that!)

This reflects that having knowledge about oneself isn’t innate and requires perceptual identification through reflection. However,’conscience-of-self’ extends beyond just mere reflections; it also includes introspection -> analyzing own motivation/behavior/morals…well anything relating to oneself really!

Does Perception Help Us Identify Who We Are?

Can sight actually play a role in self-awareness? It entirely depends on your definition of ‘sight’. Research has suggested that both visual appearance (think: standing by the mirror for hours) and physical sensations (such as feeling good after an intense workout session) contribute to the concept of who we think we are.

This idea about perception goes back ages! In Buddhism, it’s believed that our true nature is masked by delusions. These include personal likes & dislikes, labels attributed through society or stereotyping (“I’m always punctual”). Therefore it requires explicit recognition called ‘Enlightenment’ (Vegans would understand this!) to see beyond these perceptual distortions/know oneself as they truly are!

The Emotional Side of Self-Consciousness

Have you ever heard someone say – “That person doesn’t know their own strength”? Maybe that phrase derives from how individuals seem unaware might appear like they’re lost in themselves. However, there’s more depth to be explored; emotion is incredibly potent in achieving self-perception!

Emotions help us develop a sense of identity before words begin forming. When infants form relationships with caregivers/families -> they categorize the treating received into positive/negative categories developing their sense-of-self based upon those emotions! (Pro tip- May cause some rethinking if you had parents who never said-you-re-doing-well enough-for-me)

But why stop at just childhood experiences? There needs to be something even more powerful than positive-negatives… drumroll …Biases (Well thank goodness!). Unconscious biases also influence perception besides conscious ones but are often impossible-to-detect although affecting decision-making all-the-same!!!

Empathy: Can We Truly Understand Ourselves Through Others?

Empathy constitutes understanding/feeling what others experience- but can it apply when referring to ourselves too?. If compassion arises within despite experiencing negative situations, it is a sign of self-awareness. On the other hand, people who lack empathy also report weaker perception & understanding about themselves- fascinating! (Hold on; let’s not feel too bad for them just yet!)

However, empathy isn’t always returning positive results per se – Researchers have concluded that reducing personal biases unconsciously can herald increased accuracy in percepts upon peers from out-groups!

Could Consciousness Be An Illusion?

“Could animals be self-aware?” “What of Machines?”. Such intriguing questions reflect an ongoing debate over what precisely constitutes as ‘conscious.’ For those eccentric enough to believe consciousness could be but one illusion (Cue Matrix references),it is said that neuroscience provides plenty of literature regarding this phenomenon inclusive hallucinations/dreams/false memories.

As amazing as it may sound if you’re among such types, keeping rudiments like logic and sense aside – consider panpsychism (this term makes existence seem even more confusing); a theory promoting consciousness originating at subatomic levels possessing elements-of-existence/qualia/awareness!!!

Brains: The Ultimate Seat Of Self-Conscious

Allow us to introduce Phineas Gage – A man whose injury quite literally changed his personality (& turned him into a legend!). The story has proved imperative in highlighting the role frontal lobes or ventromedial prefrontal cortices play in maintaining our conscience/self-conscious identity.

The brain somehow constructs our conscious experience (a difficult concept to grasp mind you!) by assembling different mental phenomena threads together onto (don’t shudder at this)Neurons!! These include sensory experiences, physical sensations as well our response towards emotion-motivated events/explore-their-meaningful-aspect…phew!!!

If brains are so important when talking about self-conscience, we must delve further into them -> to put theories discussed previously into action. Would anyone like an MRI session perhaps?? (A thousand-dollar price tag accompanying this question)

Stereotypes Affect Self-Consciousness

It’s tough to forget that choosing who we present ourselves as has everything to do with societal stereotypes. Research suggests various labels portray personal attributes (both positive and negative), shaping how people see themselves in the context of culture, religion,-even hobbies!

Popular media depictions also have a significant influence on self-awareness. Again it is essential to emphasize perceptions are only socially constructed/being subjective-> different place/people/perceptions will provide differing opinions.

For these reasons -> stereotype threats can negatively reflect within growing individuals’ development(camaraderie possibilities). To reduce such outcomes: mindfully involving oneself within diverse circles!! (And psst…maybe reconsider telling everyone about your new-found love for anime)

The Bottom Line:

Consciousness-of-self characterizes our ability to perceive both internal and external components vital when identifying ourselves. Stimulus may come from myriad locations inclusive emotions/traditions/introspection! While philosophical put-downs might lead you into believing skepticism exists around what consciousness actually means; learning behaviors surrounding having personal knowledge allows us insight into where future brain research requires attention.

Maybe ‘self-help’ books or therapist practices aren’t so obsolete after all?! wink emoji

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