By: Harrison Chiu
What defines the existence of one’s personal self? (Excuse the numerous grammatical issues referring to oneself and other selves? in the third person presents.) This article seeks to approach the psychological question through the philosophical method and philosophical approaches.
Modern psychology determines that self-concept develops either at age 3 (when children begin understanding gender stereotypes reinforced by their parents) or at age 7-8, when children begin interpreting feedback from parents and peers.
A more philosophical approach asserts that self-concept involves self-awareness as well. Self-awareness involves differentiating between one and others, recognizing one’s existence.
So, here are some conclusions I have drawn regarding the origin of this perception:
1. One can differentiate between oneself and others
2. Perception of this differentiation does not rely on sensory details
a. For example, the blind still recognize themselves as separate from other people
b. Let us test this with the most extreme example. A person is put in a “black box” which removes all sensory input, but they still can recognize themselves as separate from other beings.
3. Perception does not seems to rely on mental self-concept
a. Children recognize themselves as separate from other beings, seeking to address their personal needs
b. In fact, the early psychology of children can be characterized as completely selfish, only seeking their own needs based on their own viewpoints
4. Perception must be an aspect related to mental capacity in some degree
a. Psychological experiments demonstrate chimpanzees have the highest degree of self-awareness, followed by elephants and dolphins
b. Of course, the caveat is that the experiments are designed by humans: the test subjects must possess the ability to comprehend some element of the experiment
Questions to ask yourself:
What is my perception of myself? Why do I think that?
When does one person’s identity end and another’s begin?
Is it possible for such a perception to disappear? Is it possible for one person to perceive him/herself as another (think Finny and Gene)? If so, when does the following occur?