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Self-Consciousness | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Posted: April 29, 2018 at 5:40 pm

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Philosophical work on self-consciousness has mostly focused on the identification and articulation of specific epistemic and semantic peculiarities of self-consciousness, peculiarities which distinguish it from consciousness of things other than oneself. After drawing certain fundamental distinctions, and considering the conditions for the very possibility of self-consciousness, this article discusses the nature of those epistemic and semantic peculiarities.

The relevant epistemic peculiarities are mainly those associated with the alleged infallibility and self-intimation of self-consciousness. It has sometimes been thought that our consciousness of ourselves may be, under certain conditions, infallible, in the sense that it cannot go wrong: when we believe that some fact about us obtains, it does. It has also sometimes been thought that some forms of consciousness are self-intimating: if a certain fact about us obtains, we are necessarily going to be conscious that it does. These claims have come under heavy attack in more recent philosophical work, but it remains unclear whether some restricted forms of infallibility and self-intimation survive the attack.

The relevant semantic peculiarities have emerged in recent work in philosophy of language and mind. Two of them stand out: the so-called immunity to error through misidentification of our consciousness of ourselves and the special character of self-regarding (or de se) consciousness that cannot be assimilated to other kinds of consciousness. Some philosophers have argued that these are not genuine features of self-consciousness, while others have argued that, although genuine, they are not peculiar to self-consciousness. Other philosophers have defended the proposition that these features are genuine and peculiar to self-consciousness. We will consider the case for these claims in due course.

Throughout our waking life, we are conscious of a variety of things. We are often conscious of other people, of cars, trees, beetles, and other objects around us. We are conscious of their features: their colors, their shapes, and the sound they make. We are conscious of events involving them: car accidents, tree blooming, and so forth.

Sometimes we are also conscious of ourselves, our features, and the events that take place within us. Thus, we may become conscious, in a certain situation, of the fact that we are nervous or uncomfortable. We may become conscious of a rising anxiety, or of a sudden cheerfulness. Sometimes we are conscious of simpler things: that we are seeing red, or that we are thinking of tomorrows errands.

In addition, we sometimes have the sense that we are continuously conscious of ourselves going about our business in the world. Thus William James, who was very influential in the early days of experimental, systematic psychology (in addition to being the brother of novelist Henry James and a gifted writer himself), remarked once that whatever I may be thinking of, I am always at the same time more or less aware of myself, of my personal existence (James 1961: 42).

These forms of self-consciousnessconsciousness of ourselves and our personal existence, of our character traits and standing features, and of the thoughts that occur to us and the feelings that we experienceare philosophically fascinating, inasmuch as they are at once quite mysterious and closest to home. Our scientific theories of astrophysical objects that are incredibly distant from us in both space and time, or of the smallest particles that make up the sub-atomic layer of reality, are mature, sophisticated, and impressive. By contrast, we barely have anything worth the name scientific theory for self-consciousness and its various manifestations, in spite of self-consciousness being so much more familiar a phenomenonindeed the most familiar phenomenon of all.

Here, as elsewhere, the immaturity of our scientific understanding of self-consciousness invites philosophical reflection on the topic, and is anyway partly due precisely to deep philosophical puzzles about the nature of self-consciousness. Many philosophers have thought that self-consciousness exhibits certain peculiarities not to be found in consciousness of things other than ourselves, and indeed possibly not to be found anywhere else in nature.

Philosophical work on self-consciousness has thus mostly focused on the identification and articulation of these peculiarities. More specifically, it has sought some epistemic and semantic peculiarities of self-consciousness, that is, peculiarities as regards how we know, and more generally how we represent, ourselves and our internal lives. (In philosophical jargon, epistemology is the theory of knowledge and semantics ismore or lessthe theory of representation.) This entry will accordingly focus on these peculiarities. After drawing certain fundamental distinctions, and considering the conditions for the very possibility of self-consciousness, we will discuss first the nature of the relevant epistemic peculiarities and then (more extensively) the semantic ones.

Let us start by drawing some distinctions. (The distinctions I will draw are meant as conceptual distinctions. Whether they stand for real differences between the properties putatively picked out by the relevant concepts is a separate matter.) The first important distinction is between self-consciousness as a property of whole individuals and self-consciousness as a property of particular mental states. Thus, when we say My thought that p is self-conscious and I am self-conscious, the property we ascribe is in all likelihood different. My being self-conscious involves my being conscious of my self. But my thoughts being self-conscious does not involve my thoughts being conscious of its self, since (i) it does not have a self, and (ii) thoughts are not the kind of thing that can be conscious of anything. We may call the property that I have creature self-consciousness and the property that my thought has state self-consciousness.

Another distinction is between consciousness of oneself (ones self) and consciousness of a particular event or state that occurs within oneself. Compare I am self-conscious of myself thinking that p to I am self-conscious of my thought that p. The latter involves awareness of a particular thought of mine, but need not involve awareness of self or selfhood. It is a form of self-consciousness in the sense that it is directed inward, and takes as its object an internal state of mine. But it is not a form of self-consciousness in the stronger sense of involving consciousness of self. I will refer to the stronger variety as strong self-consciousness and the weaker as weak self-consciousness. State self-consciousness is consciousness of what happens within oneself, whereas creature self-consciousness is consciousness of oneself proper. (Note, however, that a mental state may be both creature- and state-self-conscious. Thus, if I am conscious of my thought that p as my thought, as a thought of mine, then I am conscious both of my thought and of myself.)

Another traditional distinction, which dates back to Kant, is between consciousness of oneself qua object and consciousness of oneself qua subject. Suppose I am conscious of Budapest (or of Budapest and its odors). I am the subject of the thought, its object is Budapest. But suppose now that I am conscious of myself (or of myself and my feelings). Now I am both the subject and the object of the thought. But although the subject and the object of the thought happen to be the same thing, there is still a conceptual distinction to be made between myself in my capacity as object of thought and myself in my capacity as subject of thought. That is to say, even though there is one entity here, there are two separate concepts for this entity, the self-as-subject concept and the self-as-object concept. To mark this difference, William James (1890) introduced a technical distinction between the I and the me. In its technical use, I (and its Mentalese correlate) refers to the self-as-subject, whereas me (and its Mentalese correlate) refers to the self-as-object. By Mentalese correlate, I mean the expression that would mean the same as I and me in something like the so-called language of thought (Fodor 1975) or Mentalese.)

Corresponding to these two concepts, or conceptions, of self, there would presumably be two distinct modes of presentation under which a person may be conscious of herself. She may be conscious of herself under the I description or under the me description. Thus, my state of self-consciousness may employ either the I mode of presentation or the me mode of presentation. (We could capture the difference, using James technical terminology, by distinguishing I am self-conscious that I think that p and I am self-conscious that methinks that p.) In the latter case, there is a sort of conceptual distance between the thing that does the thinking and the thing being thought about. Although I am thinking of myself, I am not thinking of myself as the thing that does the thinking. By contrast, in the former case, I am thinking of myself precisely as the thing that is therewith doing the thinking.

Through Kants influence on Husserl, philosophers in the phenomenological tradition have long held that something like consciousness of self-as-subject is a distinct, irreducible, and central aspect of our mental life. Philosophers in the analytic tradition have been more suspicious of it (for exceptions to this rule, see for instance Van Gulick 1988 and Strawson 1997). But the distinction between consciousness of self-as-subject and consciousness of self-as-object might be captured using analytic tools, through a distinction between transitive and intransitive self-consciousness (Kriegel 2003, 2004a). Compare I am self-conscious of thinking that p and I am self-consciously thinking that p. In the former, transitive form, self-consciousness is construed as a relation between me and my thinking. In the latter, intransitive form, it is construed as a modification of my thinking. That is, in the latter the self-consciousness term (if you will) does not denote a state of standing in a relation to my thought (or my thinking) that p. Rather, it designates the way I am having my thought (or doing my thinking). In transitive self-consciousness, the thought and the state of self-consciousness are treated as two numerically distinct mental states. By contrast, in intransitive self-consciousness, there is no numerical distinction between the thought and the state of self-consciousness: the thought is the state of self-consciousness. The adverb self-consciously denotes a way I am having my thought that p. No extra act of self-consciousness takes place after the thought that p occurs. Rather, self-consciously is how the thought that p occurs.

I have been speaking of the self-as-subject in terms of the thing that does the thinking, and correspondingly of consciousness of oneself as subject in terms of consciousness of oneself as the thing that does the thinking. But recent work in philosophical psychopathology counsels caution here. Schizophrenics suffering from thought insertion and alien voices delusions report that they are not in control of their thoughts. Indeed, they often envisage a particular individual who, they claim, is doing the thinking for them, or implants thoughts in their mind. Note that although they do not experience themselves as doing the thinking, they do experience the thinking as happening, in some sense, in them. To account for the experiential difference between doing the thinking and merely hosting the thinking, between authorship of ones thoughts and mere ownership of them (respectively), some philosophers have drawn a distinction between consciousness of oneself as agent and consciousness of oneself as subject (Campbell 1999, Graham and Stephens 2000). The distinction between self-as-agent and self-as-subject is orthogonal, however, to the distinction between self-as-object and self-as-subject. To avoid confusion, let us suggest a different terminology, that of self-as-author versus self-as-owner, and correspondingly, of consciousness of oneself as author of ones thoughts and consciousness of oneself as owner of ones thoughts. To be sure, in the normal go of things, ownership and authorship are inseparable. But the pathological cases show that there is daylight between the two notions.

Another important distinction is between propositional self-consciousness and non-propositional self-consciousness. There is no doubt that there is such a thing as propositional self-consciousness: consciousness that some self-related proposition obtains. Presumably, such self-consciousness has conceptual content. But a strong case can be made that there is a form of self-consciousness that is sub-propositional, as it were, and has non-conceptual content (Bermdez 1998). When a report of self-consciousness uses a that clause, as we just did, it necessarily denotes propositional self-consciousness. But when it does not, as is the case, for instance, with I am self-conscious of thinking that p, it is left open whether it is propositional or non-propositional self-consciousness that is denoted. That is, I am self-conscious of thinking that p is compatible with, but does not entail, I am self-conscious that I am thinking that p. In any case, the terminology leaves it open whether there is a non-propositional or non-conceptual form of self-consciousness.

Other distinctions can certainly be drawn. I have restricted myself to those that will play a role in the discussion to follow. They are five:

(a) State self-consciousness versus creature self-consciousness(b) Strong versus weak self-consciousness(c) Transitive versus intransitive self-consciousness(d) Consciousness of self-as-object versus consciousness of self-as-subject(e) Consciousness of self-as-author versus consciousness of self-as-owner

As I warned at the opening, these distinctions are meant as conceptual ones. This is doubly significant. First, the fact that there is a distinction between two concepts does not entail that there is a difference between the putative properties picked out by these concepts. Second, the existence of a concept does not entail the existence of the property putatively picked out by that concept. In fact, philosophers have questioned the very existence of self-consciousness.

Perhaps the best known philosophical threat to the very possibility of self-consciousness hails from Humes remarks in the Treatise of Human Nature (I, IV, vi): For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other I never can catch myself without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception.

This passage makes two separate claims, of different degrees of skepticism. The modest claim is:

(MC) Upon turning into oneself, one cannot catch oneself without a particular mental state.

MC rules out the possibility of a mental state whose sole object is the self. But though it disallows catching oneself without a perception, it does not disallow catching oneself with a perception. Hume makes the latter, stronger, immodest claim next, however:

(IC) Upon turning into oneself, one cannot catch anything but particular mental states.

IC rules out the possibility of any consciousness of ones self. That is, it rules out the possibility of creature self-consciousness, allowing only for state self-consciousness.

In assessing Humes claims, particularly the immodest one, we must ask, first, what did Hume expect to catch? And second, what sort of catching did he have in mind?

One way to deny the possibility of consciousness of oneself is to reject the existence of a self of which one might be conscious. But the inexistence of a self is not a sufficient condition for the impossibility of self-consciousness: there could still be thoroughly and systematically illusory experience of selfhood that gives rise to a form of (illusory) self-consciousness. Nor is such rejection a necessary condition for the impossibility of self-consciousness. Hume himself not only countenanced the self, he offered a theory of it, namely, the bundle theory. What Hume rejected was the existence of a substantival self, a self that is more than just a stream of consciousness and a sum of experiences. What he rejected is the reifying conception of the self according to which the self is an object among others in the world, a substrate that supports the internal goings-on unfolding therein but is distinct from, and somehow stands above, these proceedings. This rejection is shared today by several philosophers (see, for example, Dennett 1991).

This suggests an answer to our first question, concerning what Hume had expected to catch upon turning into himself. What he expected to catch is a self-substance (if you please). It is unclear, however, why Hume thought that consciousness of oneself, even non-illusory consciousness of oneself, required the existence of a substantival self. Consider how self-consciousness might play out within the framework of Humes own bundle theory. Upon turning into herself, a person might become conscious of a particular mental state, say an inexplicable cheerfulness, but become conscious of it as belonging to a larger bundle of mental states, perhaps a bundle that has a certain internal cohesion to it at and across time. In that case, we would be well justified to conceive of this person as conscious of her self.

As for the second question, concerning what sort of catching Hume had in mind, it appears that Hume envisioned a quasi-perceptual form of catching. He expected self-consciousness to involve some sort of direct encounter with the self. There is no question that one can believe (or otherwise think purely intellectually) that one is inexplicably cheerful. One can surely entertain purely intellectually the proposition I am inexplicably cheerful. But Hume wanted more than that. He wanted to be confronted with his self, by turning inward his minds eye, as he would with a chair upon directing his outward gaze in the right direction.

In other words, Hume was working with an introspective model of self-consciousness, according to which self-consciousness involves the employment of an inner sense: an internal mechanism whose operation is analogous in essential respects to the operation of the external senses. This inner sense conception was clearly articulated in Locke: The other fountain [of] ideas, is the perception of the operations of our own minds within us And though it be not sense, as having nothing to do with external objects; yet it is very like it, and might properly enough be called internal sense (Essay Concerning Human Understanding II, i, 4).

The plausibility of the introspective model is very much in contention. Thus, Rosenthal (1986) claims that for self-consciousness to be genuinely analogous with perceptual consciousness, the former would have to exhibit the sort of qualitative character the latter does; but since it does not, it is essentially non-perceptual. On this basis, Rosenthal (2004) proceeds to develop an account of self-consciousness in terms of purely intellectual thoughts about oneself (more specifically, thoughts that are entertained in the presence of their object or referent).

On the other hand, self-consciousness can sometimes have a quality of immediacy about it (and its way of putting us in contact with its objects) that seems to parallel perceptual consciousness. At the same time, philosophers have sometimes charged that self-consciousness is in fact too immediate, indeed unmediated, to be thought of as quasi-perceptual. Thus, Shoemaker (1996) argues that the quasi-perceptual model falters in construing self-consciousness along the lines of the act-object analysis that befits perceptual consciousness. When one is perceptually conscious of a butterflys meandering, a distinction is always called for between the act of perceptual consciousness and the meandering butterfly it takes as an object. But when one is conscious of ones cheerfulness, a parallel distinction between the act of self-consciousness and ones cheerfulness, supposedly thereby taken as object, is misleading, according to Shoemaker.

One way to interpret Shoemakers claim here is that while Humes argument may be effective against transitive self-consciousness, it is not against intransitive self-consciousness. Recall that transitive self-consciousness requires a duality of mental states, the state of self-consciousness and the state of (for example) cheerfulness. But in intransitive self-consciousness there is no such duality: there is not a distinction between an act of self-consciousness and a separate object taken by it. On this interpretation, Shoemakers claim is that being self-conscious of being cheerful may well be impossible, but it is nonetheless possible to be self-consciously cheerful. We might combine Rosenthals and Shoemakers perspectives and suggest the view that self-consciousness can come in two varieties: intellectual transitive self-consciousness and intransitive self-consciousness. Both varieties escape the clutches of Humes threat: one can catch oneself (with a particular mental state) if the catching is intellectual rather than quasi-perceptual, or if the catching is somehow fused into the particular mental state thereby caught. What Hume showed is that quasi-perceptual transitive self-consciousness is impossible; but this leaves untouched the possibility of intellectual transitive self-consciousness and of intransitive self-consciousness.

In summary, it is quite likely that self-consciousness is indeed possible. But reflecting on the conditions of its possibility puts non-trivial constraints on our conception of self-consciousness. In this respect, contending with Humes challenge still proves immensely fruitful. If anything, it wakes us from our dogmatic slumber about self-consciousness and brings up the question of the nature of self-consciousness.

One question regarding the nature of self-consciousness that arises immediately is what is to count as having self-consciousness. Many contemporary cognitive scientists have operationalized the notion of self-consciousness in terms of experiments on mirror self-recognition and the so-called mark test. In these experiments, a creatures forehead is marked with a visible stain. When placed in front of a mirror, some creatures try to wipe off the stain, which suggests that they recognize themselves in the mirror, while others do not (see mainly Gallup 1970, 1977). Successes with the mark test are few and far between. Among primates, it is passed with any consistency only by humans, chimpanzees, and orangutans, but not by gorillas or gibbons (Suarez and Gallup 1981); and even humans do not typically pass it before the age of a year and a half (Amsterdam 1972) and chimpanzees not before three years of age nor after sixteen years of age (Povinelli et al. 1993). Outside the group of primates, it is passed only by bottlenose dolphins (Reiss and Marino 2001) and Asian elephants (Plotnik et al. 2006). However, this operational treatment of self-consciousness is problematic at a number of levels. Most importantly, it is not entirely clear what the true relationship between mirror self-recognition and self-consciousness is. One would need a principled account of the latter in order to clarify that matter. Mirror self-recognition experiments thus cannot take precedence over the search for an independent understanding of self-consciousness.

To that end, let us consider the ways in which self-consciousness has been claimed to be different, special, and sometimes privileged, relative to consciousness of things other than oneself. Early modern philosophers, from Descartes on, have often claimed certain epistemic privileges on behalf of self-consciousness. More recently, twentieth century analytic philosophers have attempted to identify certain semantic peculiarities of self-consciousness. We take those up in turns.

In what follows, we will consider, somewhat hastily, about a dozen epistemic peculiarities sometimes attributed to self-consciousness. Traditionally, the most discussed special feature claimed on behalf of self-consciousness is infallibility. According to the doctrine of infallibility, ones consciousness of oneself is always veridical and accurate. We may say that whenever I am self-conscious of thinking that p, I am indeed thinking that p. It is important to note, however, that to the extent that self-conscious of is a success verb, this claim would be trivially true, whereas the point of the doctrine under consideration is that it is true even if self-conscious of is not a success verb (or also for any non-success uses of the verb). To bypass this technicality, let us insert parenthetically the qualifier seemingly into our formulation of the claim. We may formulate the doctrine of infallibility as follows:

(DIF) If I am (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p, then I am thinking that p.

Thus, whenever I believe something about myself and my mental life, the belief is true: things are in fact the way I believe them to be.

The doctrine of infallibility ensures that my beliefs about my mental life are true. A parallel doctrine ensures that such beliefs are (epistemically) justified. We may, without too much injustice to traditional terminology, call this the doctrine of incorrigibility. The traditional notion of incorrigibility is the notion that the subject cannot possibly be corrected by anyone else, which suggests that the subject is in possession of (and makes correct use of) all the relevant evidence. We may thus formulate the doctrine of incorrigibility as follows:

(DIC) If I am (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p, then I am justifiably (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p.

Whereas according to DIF, whenever I believe something about my mental life, my belief is true, according to DIC, whenever I believe something about my mental life, my belief is justified.

Against the background of the tripartite analysis of knowledge, the conjunction of DIC and DIF would entail a doctrine about self-knowledge in general, namely:

(DIK) If I am (seemingly) self-conscious that I am thinking that p, then I know that I am thinking that p.

That is, if I am in a state of self-consciousness whose content is I am thinking that p, then my state of self-consciousness will necessarily qualify as knowledge. Note, however, that the thesis is entailed by DIF and DIC only against the background of the tripartite analysisthough it may be independently true. (If the tripartite analysis is incorrect, as it probably is, then the thesis does not follow from the conjunction of DIC and DIF. But it can still be formulated.)

The three doctrines we have considered claim strong privileges on behalf of self-consciousness. But there are stronger ones. Consider the converse of the doctrine of infallibility. DIF ensures that when I am (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p, then I am in fact thinking that p. Its converse is a stronger thesis: whenever I think that p, I am self-conscious of doing so. That is, nothing can pass through the mind without the mind taking notice of it. Having a thought entails being self-conscious of having it. Thoughts are, in this sense, self-intimating. We may formulate the doctrine of self-intimation as follows:

(DSI) If I am thinking that p, then I am self-conscious of thinking that p.

Thus, whenever I think something, I inevitably come to believe (or be aware) that I am. Note that DSI entails DIF, because if I am indeed thinking that p, then my self-consciousness of thinking that p must be true or veridical.

A distinction is sometimes made between weak self-intimation and strong self-intimation (Shoemaker 1996). What we have just considered is the weak variety. The strong variety ensures not only that when I think something, I am aware that I think it, but also that when I do not think something, I am aware that I do not think it. Let us formulate the doctrine of strong self-intimation as follows:

(DSSI) If I am thinking that p, then I am self-conscious of thinking that p; and if I am not thinking that p, then I am self-conscious of not thinking that p.

Strong self-intimation renders the mind in some traditional sense transparent to itself. But the term transparency has had such wide currency in recent philosophy of mind that it would be better not to use it in the present context.

Consider now the converse of the doctrine of incorrigibility. It is the thesis that if I think that p, then I am justifiably self-conscious of thinking that p. It also entails DIF, as well as DSI. Again, a strong version can be formulated: If I think that p, then I am justifiably self-conscious of thinking that p; and if I do not think that p, then I am justifiably self-conscious of not thinking that p.

Finally, a parallel thesis could be formulated regarding knowledge: If I think that p, then I know that I think that p. The strong version would be:

(OSC) If I think that p, then I know that I think that p, and if I do not think that p, then I know that I do not think that p.

This last feature is probably the strongest epistemic privilege that could be claimed on behalf of self-consciousness. We may call the associated doctrine the Omniscience of Self-Consciousness. For it is the thesis that one knows everything that happens within ones mind, and everything that does not.

Freuds work on the unconscious has all but refuted the above doctrines (see especially Freud 1915). Thus few if any philosophers would defend them today. But many may consider restricted versions of them. The above doctrines are formulated in terms of thoughts, understood as mental states in general. But some theses can be formulated that would restrict the epistemic privileges to a special subset of mental states, such as sensations and feelings, or phenomenally conscious states, or some such. A thus restricted self-intimation thesis might read: if I have a sensation S, then I am self-conscious of having S; or, if I have a phenomenally conscious state S, then I am self-conscious of having S.

Counter-examples to even such appropriately restricted theses have been offered in the literature. Staying with self-intimation, it has been suggested that there are sensations and conscious states that occur without their subjects awareness. Arguably, I may have a sensationindeed, a phenomenally conscious sensationof the refrigerators hum without becoming self-conscious of it, let alone of myself hearing it.

Consider now a restricted version of the infallibility doctrine: If I am (seemingly) self-conscious of having sensation S, then I do have sensation S. An alleged counter-example is the fraternity initiation story. Suppose that, blindfolded, I am told that a particular spot on my neck is about to be cut with a razor (this is part of my fraternity initiation); then an ice cube is placed on that spot. At the very first instant, I am likely to be under the impression that I am having a pain sensation, while in reality I am having a coldness sensation. That is, at that instant, I am (seemingly) self-conscious of having a pain sensation but do not in fact have a pain sensation, or so the argument goes (see Horgan and Kriegel 2007).

Another way to restrict the above doctrines is by making their claims weaker. Consider the following variation on self-intimation: If I am thinking that p, then I am self-conscious of thinking. Whereas DSI claims that when I have the thought that p, I am self-conscious not just of having a thought, but of having specifically the thought that p, this variation claims only that I am self-conscious of having a thoughtsome thought.

We can apply strictures of this type to any of the above doctrines, and some of the resulting theses may be quite plausible. Thus, consider the following thesis:

If I am (seemingly) self-conscious of being in a phenomenally conscious state S, then I am in some phenomenally conscious state.

It is difficult to conceive of a situation in which one is aware of oneself as being in some conscious state when in fact one is in no conscious state (and hence is unconscious). In particular, the fraternity initiation tale does not tell against this thesis: although in the story I am not in fact in a pain state, I am nonetheless in some conscious state.

Such nuanced theses may thus survive modern critiques of the traditional doctrines of epistemic privilege. Their exploration in the literature is, in any case, far from complete. But let us move on to the semantic privileges sometimes imputed on self-consciousness.

On the two extremes, the first-person pronoun I has been claimed by some to be entirely non-referential (Anscombe 1975) and by others to be the only true form of reference (Chisholm 1976 Ch. 3, and in a more nuanced way, Lewis 1979). Presumably, analogous statements could be made about the concept we use in thought in order to think about ourselves in the first person. For convenience, I will call the relevant concept the Mentalese first-person pronoun, or just the Mentalese I. Plausibly, the special features of linguistic self-reference (the way I refers) derive from, or at least parallel, corresponding features of self-consciousness, and more specifically mental self-reference (the way the Mentalese I refers). In the present context, it is the latter that interest us. Our discussion will focus on two main features. In the next section, we will consider the alleged essential indexicality of self-consciousness (Perry 1979) and irreducibility of de se thoughts (Castaeda 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969). (These terms will be explicated in due course.) The present section considers a semantic peculiarity pointed out by Sydney Shoemaker (1968) under the name immunity to error through misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun and related peculiarities discussed by Anscombe (1975), Evans (1982), and others.

When I think about things other than myself, there are two ways in which my thoughts may turn out to be false. Suppose I think that my next-door neighbor is a nice person. I may be wrong about either (i) whether he is a nice person or (ii) who my next-door neighbor is. The first error is one of mispredication, if you will, whereas the second is one of misidentification. Thus, if I mistake my neighbors tendency to smile for kindness, when in fact it serves a cynical ploy to lure me into signing an unjust petition against the superintendent, then I make a mistake of the first kind. By contrast, if I mistake the mailman for my next-door neighbor, and think that it is my next-door neighbor who is a nice person, when in fact it is the mailman who is, then I make a mistake of the second kind.

In this sense, my thought that my next-door neighbor is a nice person displays a composite structure, involving identification and predication. We may represent this by saying that my thought has the internal structure my next-door neighbor is the person smiling at me every morning & the person smiling at me every morning is a nice person, or more generally my next-door neighbor is the & the is a nice person. This is not to say that when I think that my next-door neighbor is a nice person I am thinking this as a conjunction, or that my thought takes a conjunctive proposition as its object. The above conjunctive representation of my thought is meant just as a device to bring out the fact that my thought has a composite structure. The point is just that my thought has two separable components, an identificational component and a predicational component.

Correspondingly, we can envisage three sorts of semantic peculiarity or privilege. (1) There could be a kind of thought K1, such that if a thought T is of that kind, then T can only be false due to mispredication; thoughts of kind K1 are thus immune to error through misidentification. (2) There could be a kind of thought K2, such that if T is of that kind, then T can only be false due to misidentification; thoughts of kind K2 are thus immune to error through mispredication. (3) There could be a kind of thought K3, such that if T is of that kind, then T can be false due to neither mispredication nor misidentification; thoughts of kind K3 are thus immune to error tout court. The above are just definitions of privileges. It remains to be seen whether any of these definitions is actually satisfied. Shoemakers claim is that the first definition is indeed satisfied by a certain subset of thoughts about oneself.

Note that the third peculiarity, immunity to error tout court, is basically infallibility. This way of conceiving of immunity to error through misidentification brings out its relation to the more traditional doctrine of infallibility. Unlike the latter, the doctrine of immunity to error through misidentification does not claim blanket immunity. But it does restrict in a principled manner the ways in which the relevant thoughts may turn out to be false. If I think that I feel angry, then I can be wrong about whether that is a feeling I really have, but I cannot be wrong about whom it is that is allegedly angry.

We said that according to Shoemaker, a certain subset of thoughts about oneself is immune to error through misidentification. What subset? One can think about oneself under any number of descriptions. And some descriptions one may not be aware of as applying to one. Thus, I may think that my mothers nieceless brothers only nephew is brown-eyed, without being aware that I am my mothers nieceless brothers only nephew. In that case, I think about myself, but not as myself. We might say that I have a thought about myself, but not a self-aware thought about myself. Let us call self-aware thoughts about oneself I-thoughts. According to Shoemaker, some I-thoughts are immune to error through misidentification, namely, those I-thoughts that are directed to ones mind and mental life, as opposed to ones body and corporeal life. (To take an example from Wittgenstein, suppose I see in the mirror a tangle of arms and I mistakenly take the nicest one to be mine. I may think to myself I have a nice arm. In that case, I may not only be wrong about whether my arm is nice, but also about whom it is that has a nice arm. Such an I-thought, being about my body, is not immune to error through misidentification. But my thoughts about my mind are so immune, claims Shoemaker.) More accurately, as we will see later on, Shoemaker holds that absolute, as opposed to circumstantial, immunity to error through misidentification applies only to mental I-thoughts.

We should distinguish two versions of the doctrine of immunity. According to the first, the relevant I-thoughts cannot be false through misidentification because the identifications they involve are always and necessarily correct; call this the infallible identification (II) version of the doctrine of immunity. According to the second version, the relevant I-thoughts cannot be false through misidentification because they do not involve identification in the first place; call this the identificationless reference (IR) version of the doctrine of immunity. (Brook [2001] speaks of ascriptionless reference, which may also be a good label for the specific feature under consideration.) Both versions claim a certain distinction on behalf of the relevant I-thoughts, but the distinction is very different. The first version claims the distinction of infallible identification, whereas the second one claims the distinction of dispensable identification.

Shoemaker appears to hold the IR version (see, for example, Shoemaker 1968: 558). In some respects this is the more radical version. On the II version, I-thoughts have the same composite structure as other thoughts. When I think that I am amused, the content of my thought has the structure I am the & the is amused. It is just that there is something special about the identificational component in the relevant I-thoughts that makes it impervious to error. Whenever I think that I am the , I am. The IR version is more radical. It claims that the relevant I-thoughts do not have the same composite structure as other thoughtsthat they are structurally different. More specifically, they lack any identificational component. My thought that I am amused hooks onto me in some direct, identification-free way.

The distinction between these two versions is important, because the burden of argument is very different in each case. To make the case for II, one would have to argue that the relevant self-identifications are infallible. To make the case for IR, by contrast, one would have to argue that the relevant I-thoughts are identification-free. There is also a corresponding difference in explanatory burden. II must explain how is it that certain acts of identification are impervious to error, whereas IR must explain how is it that some acts of reference can dispense with identification altogether (How do they hook onto the right referent without identifying it?).

Shoemakers (1968) argument for IR, in its barest outlines, proceeds as follows. Suppose (for reductio) that every self-reference required self-identification. Then every thought with a content I am F would have the internal structure I am the & the is F. That is, ascertaining that one is F would require that one identify oneself as the and then establish that the is F. But this would entail that the same would apply to I am the : it would have to have the internal structure I am the & the is the . That is, in order to ascertain that one is the , one would have to first identify oneself as the and then establish that the is the . And so on ad infinitum. To avert infinite regress, at least some self-reference must be identification-free.

To claim that immunity to error through misidentification is a peculiarity of self-consciousness is to claim that it is a feature peculiar to self-consciousness. One can deny this claim in two ways: (i) by arguing that it is not a feature of self-consciousness, and (ii) by arguing that it is not peculiar to self-consciousness (that is, although it is a feature of self-consciousness, it is also a feature of other forms of consciousness).

Several philosophers have pursued (i). Perhaps the most widely discussed argument is the following, due to Gareth Evans (1982: 108). On the basis of seeing in a mirror a large number of hands, one of which is touching a piece of cloth, and a certain feeling I have in my hand, as of touching a piece of cloth, I come to think that I am feeling a piece of cloth. But this is false, and false due to misidentification: I am not the one who is feeling the piece of cloth. Therefore, there are states of self-consciousness that are not immune to error through misidentification; so such immunity is not a feature of self-consciousness as such.

Arguably, however, this is not a pure case of self-consciousness. The thought in question involves self-consciousness, but it is also partly consciousness of something external, and it is the latter part of it that leads to the error. Consider the difference between the thought I am feeling a piece of cloth and the thought I am having a feeling as of a piece of cloth, or even more perspicuously, I am having a cloth-ish feeling. It is clear that if it turns out to be erroneous that I am having a cloth-ish feeling, it is not because I have misidentified myself in the mirror. Indeed, what I see in the mirror is entirely irrelevant to the truth of my thought that I am having a cloth-ish feeling.

More often, philosophers have pursued (ii), arguing that immunity to error through misidentification is not peculiar to self-consciousness. Evans (1982) himself, for instance, argued that thoughts about ones body, and even certain perceptions and perception-based judgments, can be equally immune to error through misidentification, indeed be identification-free. When I think that my legs are crossed, my thought seems to be immune to error through misidentification: it cannot turn out that someones legs are indeed crossed, but not mine.

One response would be to claim that thoughts about ones own body are a genuine form of self-consciousness, albeit bodily self-consciousness. But another would be to draw finer distinctions between kinds of immunity and attach a specific sort of immunity to self-consciousness. Shoemaker (1968) distinguished between absolute and circumstantial immunity to error through misidentification, claiming that only the relevant I-thoughts exhibit the absolute variety. In the same vein, McGinn (1983) distinguishes between derivative and non-derivative immunity to error through misidentification, and Pryor (1999) between de re misidentification and which-object misidentification, both claiming that only the relevant I-thoughts exhibit the latter. However, Stanley (1998) erects a considerable challenge to all these attempts. The issue of whether some kind of immunity to error through misidentification is a peculiarity of self-consciousness is still very much debated.

Let us end this section with a few general points. First, immunity to error through misidentification is at bottom a semantic, not an epistemic, peculiarity. It concerns the special way the Mentalese I hooks onto its referent. Thus, immunity to error through misidentification is not to be confused with immunity to error through unjustified identification, immunity to unjustifiedness through misidentification, or immunity to unjustifiedness through unjustified identificationall of which would be epistemic peculiarities.

Second, immunity to error through misidentification is a semantic peculiarity of strong self-consciousness, not weak self-consciousness, since it involves essentially consciousness of oneself, not just consciousness of a particular thought of one. So, if I am (seemingly) self-conscious of thinking that p, it may be that I am not thinking that p, but only because it is not thinking that p that I am doingnot because it is not I who is doing the thinking.

Third, Shoemakers discovery of immunity preceded the Kripkean revolution in philosophy of language and more generally the theory of reference. A question therefore arises concerning the relation between his claim that self-reference is identification-free and Kripkes claim that many kinds of reference are direct or rigid. Direct referencewhich is commonly thought to characterize proper names, natural kind terms, and indexicalsis reference that is sense-free, if you will: it does not employ a sense, or mode of presentation, in hooking onto the referent. What is the relation, then, between sense-free reference and identification-free reference?

A natural thought is that some (perhaps all) senses are identifications, and so identification-freedom is simply one special case of sense-freedom. If so, Shoemakers discovery may be just a foreshadowing of the Kripkean revolution: it is the discovery of the possibility of sense-free reference, but with an overly restrictive assessment of its scope (where Kripke claimed that all sorts of representational devices are sense-free, Shoemaker thought that only I is).

But there is also another view of the matter. Kripkes directly referential terms do not employ senses, but they do employ reference-fixers. When I think that Tom is generous, there is something that fixes the reference of my Mentalese concept for Tomfor example, the fact that Tom is the salient person called Tom. This reference-fixing fact is not necessarily something I am aware of, which is why it does not qualify as a sense. But it is nonetheless operative in the reference-fixing. When thinking that Tom is generous, I am performing an identification of Tom, albeit an implicit identification, one of which I am not explicitly aware. One way to interpret Shoemakers claim is that self-reference does not even employ a reference-fixer. It is not only sense-free, but also reference-fixer-free. It is not only that the relevant I-thoughts hook onto oneself without the subject performing an explicit identification, but they hook onto oneself without the subject performing any identification, explicit or implicit. If so, Shoemakers claim is more radical than Kripkean direct reference: identification-free reference is not just direct, it is entirely unmediated.

A similar point can be made with respect to Elizabeth Anscombes claim that, unlike all other expressions, I cannot fail to refer. So I-thoughts are secure from reference-failure (Anscombe 1975: 149). That is, such I-thoughts as I am feeling hungry are, in effect, immune to error through reference-failure. What is the relation between immunity to error through misidentification and immunity to error through reference-failure? One view would be that there is no differencethe two are the same. But this would make Shoemakers ultimate claim that the relevant I-thoughts enjoy identification-freedom the same as Anscombes ultimate claim that they enjoy reference-freedom. Shoemaker states explicitly that I does refer, though in some identification-free manner. One way to make sense of this is by appeal, again, to freedom from reference-fixing. Here identification-free reference is construed as reference-fixer-free reference. On this view, the Mentalese I is referential, but it has the peculiarity that its reference is unmediated by any reference-fixing mechanism.

A crucial issue that remains unaddressed is how reference-fixer-free reference is possible. How can a representational item find its referent without any mechanism ensuring a connection between them? Any general theory of self-consciousness that embraces Shoemakers IR version of the doctrine of immunity must explain the possibility of reference unfixed. To my knowledge, this challenge remains to be broached in the literature.

In the last section we saw that, when one employs the Mentalese I in thought, ones thought probably acquires certain unusual features. In this section, we will see that in certain thoughts one cannot avoid employing the Mentalese I. This, too, is a semantic peculiarity, albeit of a different order.

In a well-known story, John Perry tells of his experience following a trail of sugar in a supermarket and thinking to himself The shopper with the torn bag of sugar is making a mess. Upon realizing that he is the person with the torn bag, he forms a new thought, I am making a mess. This thought is new: its functional role is different from the one of the original thought. Perrys subsequent actions can be explained by ascribing to him this I-thought in a way they cannot by ascribing to him the I-free thought. Perry calls beliefs such as I am making a mess locating beliefs, and argues that such beliefs cannot avoid employing Mentalese indexicals. There is no way to think the same thought without employing the Mentalese I. Such a thought thus contains an essential indexical, or more accurately, essentially contains an indexical reference. In this sense, these thoughts are irreducible to any other, non-indexical kind of thought.

It should be emphasized that the point here is not that such I-thoughts cannot be reported by anyone other than the subject, or that such first-person reports cannot be matched by third-person reports. In direct speech (oratio recta), one might report Perrys I-thought as follows:

(1) Perry thinks I am making a mess.

The same report could be made more naturally in indirect speech (oratio obliqua). In order to do so, however, one would need to employ what linguists call an indirect reflexive. Some languages apparently contain unique words for the indirect reflexives. English does not. But fortunately, the English indirect reflexives were discerned in the late 1960s by Hector-Neri Castaeda (curiously perhaps, not himself a native speaker). Castaeda showed that (1) is equivalent to:

(2) Perry thinks that he himself is making a mess.

At least this is so for paradigmatic uses of he himself. (There are also uses of he that function in this way, but these are more rare. And there are probablysomewhat unusualuses of he himself that do not function this way. Castaeda introduced the term he* as a term that behaves as an indirect reflexive in all its uses.) Castaeda called reports of this sort de se (that is, of oneself) and claimed that de se reports cannot be paraphrased into any de dicto or de re reports, and are thus semantically unique and irreducible. Correlatively, the mental states reported in de se reports, to which we may refer as de se thoughts, are irreducible to mental states reported in de dicto and de re reports. In a material mode of speech, this means that states of self-consciousness form an irreducible class of mental states.

Note, in any case, that Castaedas thesis is a generalization from Perrys thesis about reports of ones own self-conscious states (that is, first-person reports) to all reports of self-conscious states, including reports of others self-conscious states (third-person reports). According to Castaedas thesis, self-reference is irreducible to either de dicto or de re reference to what is in fact oneself. Castaeda argues for this by showing that the indirect reflexives he himself, she herself, and so forth, have special logical features. Thus (2) cannot be paraphrased into any (indirect-speech) report that does not employ he himself. Consider the following de dicto report:

(3) Perry thinks that the author of The Essential Indexical is making a mess.

The truth conditions of (3) and (2) are different, since the latter does not entail the former: Perry may be unaware that it is he who is the author of The Essential Indexical (that is, that he himself is the author of The Essential Indexical). So (3) and (2) are not equivalent. Presumably, the same goes for any other description the that picks out Perry uniquelyit could always be that Perry is unaware that he himself is the .

Consider next a de dicto report with a proper name instead of a definite description:

(4) Perry thinks that Perry is making a mess.

Again, Perry may be unaware that it is he who is Perry. Therefore, the truth conditions of (2) and (4) are different, and the two are not equivalent. What about the de re versions of (3) and (4)? These can be obtained, in fact, by reading the author of The Essential Indexical and Perry in (3) and (4) as used, in Donnellans (1966) terms, referentially rather than attributively. But the de re versions are more perspicuously put as follows:

(5) Perry thinks, of the author of The Essential Indexical, that he is making a mess.

(6) Perry thinks, of Perry, that he is making a mess.

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Self-Consciousness | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Written by grays

April 29th, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman

Posted: February 9, 2018 at 9:41 am

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In 1990, in my role as a science reporter at The New York Times, I chanced upon an article in a small academic journal by two psychologists, John Mayer, now at the University of New Hampshire, and Yales Peter Salovey. Mayer and Salovey offered the first formulation of a concept they called emotional intelligence.

Those were days when the preeminence of IQ as the standard of excellence in life was unquestioned; a debate raged over whether it was set in our genes or due to experience. But here, suddenly, was a new way of thinking about the ingredients of life success. I was electrified by the notion, which I made the title of this book in 1995. Like Mayer and Salovey, I used the phrase to synthesize a broad range of scientific findings, drawing together what had been separate strands of research reviewing not only their theory but a wide variety of other exciting scientific developments, such as the first fruits of the nascent field of affective neuroscience, which explores how emotions are regulated in the brain.

I remember having the thought, just before this book was published ten years ago, that if one day I overheard a conversation in which two strangers used the phrase emotional intelligence and both understood what it meant, I would have succeeded in spreading the concept more widely into the culture. Little did I know.

The phrase emotional intelligence, or its casual shorthand EQ, has become ubiquitous, showing up in settings as unlikely as the cartoon strips Dilbert and Zippy the Pinhead and in Roz Chasts sequential art in The New Yorker. Ive seen boxes of toys that claim to boost a childs EQ; lovelorn personal ads sometimes trumpet it in those seeking prospective mates. I once found a quip about EQ printed on a shampoo bottle in my hotel room.

And the concept has spread to the far corners of our planet. EQ has become a word recognized, Im told, in languages as diverse as German and Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Malay. (Even so, I prefer EI as the English abbreviation for emotional intelligence.) My e-mail inbox often contains queries, from, for example, a doctoral student in Bulgaria, a school teacher in Poland, a college student in Indonesia, a business consultant in South Africa, a management expert in the Sultanate of Oman, an executive in Shanghai. Business students in India read about EI and leadership; a CEO in Argentina recommends the book I later wrote on the topic. Ive also heard from religious scholars within Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism that the concept of EI resonates with outlooks in their own faith.

Most gratifying for me has been how ardently the concept has been embraced by educators, in the form of programs in social and emotional learning or SEL. Back in 1995 I was able to find only a handful of such programs teaching emotional intelligence skills to children. Now, a decade later, tens of thousands of schools worldwide offer children SEL. In the United States many districts and even entire states currently make SEL curriculum requirement, mandating that just as students must attain a certain level of competence in math and language, so too should they master these essential skills for living.

In Illinois, for instance, specific learning standards in SEL abilities have been established for every grade from kindergarten through the last year of high school. To give just one example of a remarkably detailed and comprehensive curriculum, in the early elementary years students should learn to recognize and accurately label their emotions and how they lead them to act. By the late elementary years lessons in empathy should make children able to identify the nonverbal clues to how someone else feels; in junior high they should be able to analyze what creates stress for them or what motivates their best performance. And in high school the SEL skills include listening and talking in ways that resolve conflicts instead of escalating them and negotiating for win-win solutions.

Around the world Singapore has undertaken an active initiative in SEL, as have some schools in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. In Europe, the U.K. Has led the way, but more than a dozen other countries have schools that embrace EI, as do Australia and New Zealand, and here and there countries in Latin America and Africa. In 2002 UNESCO began a worldwide initiative to promote SEL, sending a statement of ten basic principles for implementing SEL to the ministries of education in 140 countries.

In some states and nations, SEL has become the organizing umbrella under which are gathered programs in character education, violence prevention, antibullying, drug prevention and school discipline. The goal is not just to reduce these problems among schoolchildren but to enhance the school climate and, ultimately, students academic performance.

In 1995, I outlined the preliminary evidence suggesting that SEL was the active ingredient in programs that enhance childrens learning while preventing problems such as violence. Now the case can be made scientifically: helping children improve their self-awareness and confidence, manage their disturbing emotions and impulses, and increase their empathy pays off not just in improved behavior but in measurable academic achievement.

This is the big news contained in a recently completed meta-analysis of 668 evaluation studies of SEL programs for children from preschoolers through high school. The massive survey was conducted by Roger Weissberg, who directs the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning at the University of Illinois at Chicago the organization that has led the way in bringing SEL into schools worldwide.

The data show that SEL programs yielded a strong benefit in academic accomplishment, as demonstrated in achievement test results and grade-point averages. In participating schools, up to 50 percent of children showed improved achievement scores and up to 38 percent improved their grade-point averages. SEL programs also made schools safer: incidents of misbehavior dropped by an average of 28 percent; suspensions by 44 percent; and other disciplinary actions by 27 percent. At the same time, attendance rates rose, while 63 percent of students demonstrated significantly more positive behavior. In the world of social science research, these remarkable results for any program promoting behavioral change, SEL had delivered on its promise.

In 1995 I also proposed that a good part of the effectiveness of SEL came from its impact in shaping childrens developing neural circuitry, particularly the executive functions of the prefrontal cortex, which manage working memory what we hold in mind as we learn and inhibit disruptive emotional impulses. Now the first preliminary scientific evidence for that notion has arrived. Mark Greenberg of Pennsylvania State University. A codeveloper of the PATHS curriculum in SEL, reports not only that the program for elementary school students boasts academic achievement but, even more significantly, that much of the increased learning can be attributed to improvements in attention and working memory, key functions of the prefrontal cortex. This strongly suggests that neuroplasticity, the shaping of the brain through repeated experience, plays a key role in the benefits from SEL.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me has been the impact of EI in the world of business, particularly in the areas of leadership and employee development (a form of adult education). The Harvard Business Review has hailed emotional intelligence as a ground-breaking, paradigm-shattering idea, one of the most influential business ideas of the decade.

Such claims in the business world too often prove to be fads, with no real underlying substance. But here a far-flung network of researchers has been at work, ensuring that the application of EI will be grounded in solid data. The Rutgers University-based Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations (CREIO) has led the way in catalyzing this scientific work, collaborating with organizations that range from the Office of Personnel Management in the federal government to American Express.

Today companies worldwide routinely look through the lens of EI in hiring, promoting, and developing their employees. For instance, Johnson and Johnson (another CREIO member) found that in divisions around the world, those identified at mid career as having high leadership potential were far stronger in EI competencies than were their less-promising peers. CREIO continues to foster such research, which can offer evidence-based guidelines for organizations seeking to enhance their ability to achieve their business goals or fulfill a mission.

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Emotional Intelligence - Daniel Goleman

Written by grays

February 9th, 2018 at 9:41 am

Posted in Self-Awareness

Robot learns self-awareness | KurzweilAI

Posted: January 14, 2018 at 5:43 pm

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Whos that good-looking guy? Nico examines itself and its surroundings in the mirror. (Credit: Justin Hart / Yale University )

Yale roboticists have programmedNico, a robot, to be able to recognize itself in a mirror.

Using knowledge that it has learned about itself, Nico is able to use a mirror as an instrument for spatial reasoning, allowing it to accurately determine where objects are located in space based on their reflections, rather than naively believing them to exist behind the mirror.

Nicos programmer, roboticist Justin Hart, a member of the Social Robotics Lab,focuses his thesis research primarily on robots autonomously learning about their bodies and senses, but he also explores human-robot interaction, including projects on social presence, attributions of intentionality, and peoples perception ofrobots.

Recently, the lab (along with MIT, Stanford, and USC) won a $10 million grantfrom the National Science Foundation to create socially assistive robots that can serve as companions for children withspecial needs. These robots will help with everything from cognitive skills to getting the right amount of exercise.

Harts specific goal in this program: enable Nico to interact with its environment by learning about itself, and using this self-model, to reason about tasks mainly ones for humans.

Only humans can be self-aware joins Only humans can recognize faces and other disgarded myths. Quiz: which of the posters on the wall in this 2005 cartoon (from The Singularity Is Near) should now be removed?

Previous researchers have built robots that acquire knowledge of the external world through experience, but Nico is different from those that have preceded it. Knowledge about the robot itself has generally been built in by the designer, Hart says. None of these representations offer the flexibility, robustness, and functionality that are present in people.

For example, Nico is learning the relationship of its end-effectors (grippers, for example) and sensors (stereoscopic cameras) to each other and the environment. It combines models of its perceptual and motor capabilities, to learn where its body parts exist with respect to each other and will soon learn how those body parts are able to cause changes by interacting with objects in the environment.

Nico in the looking glass

An object reflected in a mirror is a reflection of what actually exists in space, Hart says. If one were to naively reach towards these reflections, ones hand would hit the glass of the mirror, rather than the object being reached for.

By understanding this reflection, however, one is able to use the mirror as an instrument to make accurate inferences about the positions of objects in space based on their reflected appearances. When we check the rearview mirror on our car for approaching vehicles or use a bathroom mirror to aim a hairbrush, we make such instrumental use of thesemirrors.

The classic mirror test has previously been done with animals to determine whether they understand that their reflections are actually images of themselves. The subject animals are allowed to familiarize themselves with a mirror. They are then sedated and a spot of dye is put on their faces. When they awaken, if they notice the new spotof color in their reflection and then touch the place on their face where the dye was put, they pass the mirrortest.

To our knowledge, this is the first robotic system to attempt to use a mirror in this way, representing a significant step towards a cohesive architecture that allows robots to learn about their bodies and appearances through self-observation, and an important capability required in order to pass the MirrorTest, says Hart.

So far, no robot has successfully met this challenge. Jason and the Social Robotics Lab are working on it.

Reference (open access): Rajala AZ, Reininger KR, Lancaster KM, Populin LC (2010) Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) Do Recognize Themselves in the Mirror: Implications for the Evolution of Self-Recognition. PLoS ONE 5(9): e12865. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012865

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Robot learns self-awareness | KurzweilAI

Written by simmons

January 14th, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

15 Self Awareness Activities and Exercises for Emotional …

Posted: January 4, 2018 at 3:40 pm

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This guide provides over a dozen self awareness activities and exercises to increase emotional intelligence and strengthen your self-leadership abilities.


In Ancient Greece, at the front courtyard at Delphi, the former shrine to the oracle Pythia, there was an inscription:

It translates to know thyself, a famous aphorism often attributed to Socrates or Plato.

What does it mean to know oneself?

At first glance, we might discount this phrase as rhetoric.Sure, I know myself, you might lament.I know who I am.On closer examination, however, we cant be so certain.

Do we knowwhywe behave the way we do?What drives our decisions? How do we really feel about ourselves and the people in our lives?How do we really feel about ourselves and the people in our lives?

As Ralph Ellison said, When I discover who I am, Ill be free.

While awareness is knowing whats happening around you, self-awareness is knowing what youre experiencing.

Self-awarenessis the ability to know what we are doing as we do itandunderstand why we are doing it.

Consciousness is another word for self-awareness. Psychologist Anthony Stevens explains inPrivate Myths:

Consciousness enables individuals to monitor what is going on, to be aware of the nature and quality of events as they occur, and to perceive their meaning.

If we are not consciousness, we are unconscious. When we are unconscious, we lack self-awareness.

A large body of research shows the extraordinary range of unconscious biases and blind spots humans have.

Behavioral Economist Daniel Kahneman, author of the bestsellerThinking, Fast and Slow, shows that despite our confidence in our self-knowledge, we are usually wrong.

As it turns out, we arent as self-aware as we might think.

Self-awareness is the foundation for emotional intelligence,self-leadership, and mature adulthood.

With it, we can grow and develop. Without it, we are like a leaf riding a wind current.

Self-awareness is a skill. In any skill, learning goes throughfour primary stages. The first stage isunconscious incompetence. When we start something new, we arent aware of how poor we are at it.

Try to play a melody on an instrument youve never played before, and youll know how unconscious incompetence feels.

It is because of the discomfort this incompetence brings that we often avoid learning new things. Learning self-awareness requires the same discomfort.

As such, most people go through life without developing self-awareness.

Yet, self-awareness is a foundational skill essential to anyone interested in authenticpersonal development.

The key to developing self-awareness is the same as with building any skill: you need to the right methods combined with consistent practice.

Thankfully, there are many self-awareness activities and exercises designed to increase our sensitivity to whats going on inside us.

When most people talk about knowing thyself, they are referring to their mind.

Our cultural bias since the Age of Enlightenment (the 1700s) has been for toward reason, logic, and cognition.

But thats only part of the story.

We can section the brain into three parts: neocortex, limbic system, and basal ganglia.

The neocortex is the thinking or learning brain. It controls language, thought, and reasoning.

Much of the information in the neocortex isconscious, meaning we can draw on it at will.

The limbic system is the emotional center. It stores value judgments we make and memories of behaviors that produce positive and negative experiences.

Information from the limbic system is largelysubconscious. That is, this information is just below the surface of our awareness.

The basal ganglia is at the root of the brain. This is our instinctual center. Information travels from our gut to this primitive region without going through the other brain regions.

Information from the basal ganglia is mostlyunconscious. We generally cant access this information.

Brain Region.

NeocortexLimbic SystemBasal Ganglia





To build self-awareness, we must strengthen our conscious connection toall threebrain regions.

Different self awarenessactivities strengthen connections in various brain regions.

See also:How to Decalcify Your Pineal Gland (Its an important step in building greater self-awareness)

And:A Beginners Guide to Using Nootropics to Access Your Brains Potential

Most attempts to develop self-awareness fail because they only target the neocortex (thoughts, beliefs, biases).

Our goal is to become more conscious of whats driving our behavior.

To accomplish this, we need to increase our sensitivity to our emotions and instinctsthe information we rarely access with our conscious mind.

Then, we can explore our thoughts, beliefs, and biases with greater results.

Before we do any self awareness activities, we mustfind our center.

Centering must always be the first step because it increases our attention.

Attention is essential for learning, understanding and developing in any area.

For a powerful and simple practice you can use each day to access your Center quickly and consistently, see out my program, The Mastery Method: Activate Your Higher Potential. (You can listen to afree sample on the page.)

Of the many types of meditation, mindfulness has become the most popular in the West largely because of theresearchconducted on how this form of meditation affects the brain. (See the work of neuroscientistRichard Davidsonand psychologistJon Kabat-Zinn.)

Mindfulness is a form of observational meditation where meditators place their awareness on a focal point. This point can be the breath (the process of breathing) or our thoughts, but it can also be on any information coming in through our five senses.

Developing thisobserving selfis the key to developing self-awareness.

The reason we arelargely unconscious to our behavior is that our egos actautonomously. We have no one monitoring our thoughts, feelings, actions, and behavior from moment to moment.

Through observational meditation, we create a space between the doer of actions, the thinker of thoughts, and the feeler of feelings.

Theobserving selfcan then monitor our thoughts, feelings, and actions with objectivity.

Its important to understand that we dont have this observing self unless we develop it. Without this inner observer, we cant develop self-awareness.

Abraham Maslow writes inToward a Psychology of Being:

Humans no longer have instincts in the animal sense, powerful, unmistakable inner voices which tell them unequivocally what to do, when, where, how and with whom. Authentic selfhood can be defined in part as being able to hear these impulse-voices within oneself, that is, to know what one really wants or doesnt want, what one is fit for and what one is not fit for, etc.

Reconnecting with our body/instincts is an integral part of developing self-awareness.

For anyone interested in developing self-awareness, I recommend exploring Tai Chi, Qigong, or Yoga.

The aim of these practices is to strengthen a body-mind connection.

Two particular self-awareness activities I recommend are:

These activities dont require a lot of time to get started, and you will develop greater awareness of your body right away.

Also, see my program, The Mastery Method.

Your personality is a collection of patterns. These patterns include thoughts, beliefs, worldviews, feelings, tendencies, and behaviors.

Our experiences and environment condition these patterns into us.

Most of these patterns lie below the surface of our awareness. By getting to know our personality, we bring these patterns into consciousness increasing our self-awareness.

Self-awareness activities for your personality include:

All of these activities and processes help you get to know your personality, improve intrapersonal intelligence, and build self-awareness.

According to John Whitmore, a pioneer in the coaching industry and author ofCoaching for Performance,

Building awareness, responsibility, and self-belief is the goal of a coach.

A primary way a coach helps their clients build awareness is by givingeffective feedback.

If youpractice shadow work, one thing many people notice is how much easier it is to observe other peoples shortcomings than your own.

In corporate environments, many organizations use 360-degree feedbacks, an assessment tool for providing employees with performance feedback from their supervisor and up to eight peers.

If you donthave a coach, you can ask a trusted friend questions like:

You can only ask these questions to a trusted confidante and from a place of openness.

Self-awareness is a skill that helps us monitor our behavior and to better understand our motives and ourselves.

Like any other skill, we can develop self-awareness with the right methods combined with consistent practice.

The stronger our observing self becomes, the more space we have between us and our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Most people fail to develop self-awareness because they dont get rooted in their bodies first.

We need to integrate the various regions of our brain that guide our instincts, feelings, and thoughts to increase our self-awareness.

By practicing a range of self-awareness activities and exercises, we can address our body, emotions, and thoughts. This integrated approach is the key to cultivating true self-awareness.

Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)by Chade-Meng Tan


Chade-Meng Tan was one of the first engineers at Google. Years later, he helped launch the Search Inside Yourself Institute, a leadership program within Google. The program is a synthesis of the work of psychologists Jon Kabat-Zinn and Daniel Goleman, neuroscientist Richard Davidson, and others.

At its core,Search Inside Yourselfis a mind training program in emotional intelligence, the critical factor in outperforming leadership. Not only is this book an accessible, practical introduction to emotional intelligence with clear practices and methods, its also an excellent summary of dozens of other great personal development books rolled into one.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQby Daniel Goleman

Paperback | Kindle| Audio

The reason Golemans book is still relevant over 20 years after becoming a bestseller is that no matter how many times were told that there are different kinds of intelligence, most people still equate intelligence with IQ and cognition.

But 20 years of research, especially in the business sector, has revealed that its emotional intelligence, not cognitive intelligence, that defines high performance and lasting success in business and life.

5 Transformative Methods to ACTIVATE Your Pineal Gland and Tap Into Your Superhuman Potential

Cultivate Self-Leadership to Master Your Behavior and Realize Your Leadership Potential

How to Decalcify Your Pineal Gland (And Why Its Really Important for Higher Mental Performance)

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15 Self Awareness Activities and Exercises for Emotional ...

Written by simmons

January 4th, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

How to Raise Your Self Awareness: 9 Steps (with Pictures)

Posted: December 13, 2017 at 7:43 am

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Part 1




Keep some kind of log or journal. This will help you to realize when some events or attitudes repeatedly lead to others. Review your log at decided intervals, such as on new year or on your birthday.


Acknowledge when an action is not bringing the desired result. It would be stupid to keep butting your head against a wall to knock it down. But we often do just that in life. A key is to notice when doing something makes you feel bad instead of how you want to feel.

Part 2



Have a friend interview you on video tape. Remember that witnessing yourself recorded is not for self-criticism but for awareness. View yourself with a compassionate and an unbiased eye.


Analyze the feedback. Once you have some feedback and a basic awareness about yourself and people's perceptions of you, you can go about addressing them. You have probably heard of the principle of smiling when you talk on the phone because it carries through the conversation in your voice.

Part 3


Take mental notes and snapshots through the day to gauge your progress. The more you think about the behavior you want to change, the more you will be prompted to apply and practice the new behavior. What you may find is that focusing on one aspect will usually tie the rest to it, and when you remember to do the one, they will all be involved. This is the cascading effect, and it is very powerful. You can change once you identify the behavior you want to change.


Is self awareness the same as mental awareness?

No, there is some ambiguity. The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but self awareness relates to a larger concept, of which mental awareness is a part. Mental awareness refers to your mental health, which is much more than the absence of a mental illness. Self awareness includes mental awareness, as well as your social interactions, your physical health, your hopes, fears, dreams and ambitions, and much more.

Ask a Question

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 26,644 times.


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How to Raise Your Self Awareness: 9 Steps (with Pictures)

Written by simmons

December 13th, 2017 at 7:43 am

Posted in Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness: Know Yourself: Gary Vaynerchuk – YouTube

Posted: November 29, 2017 at 3:45 pm

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If I could wish one skill on people it would be Self Awareness! So many of your friends and family need to see this asap! I hope you enjoy this :)--Thank you for watching this video. I hope that you keep up with the daily videos I post on the channel, subscribe, and share your learnings with those that need to hear it. Your comments are my oxygen, so please take a second and say Hey ;).----Thank you for watching this video. I hope that you keep up with the daily videos I post on the channel, subscribe, and share your learnings with those that need to hear it. Your comments are my oxygen, so please take a second and say Hey ;).-- Subscribe to My Channel Here Vaynerchuk is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of VaynerMedia, a full-service digital agency servicing Fortune 500 clients across the companys 5 locations. Gary is also a prolific public speaker, venture capitalist, 4-time New York Times Bestselling Author, and has been named to both Crains and Fortunes 40 Under 40 lists.

Gary is the host of the #AskGaryVee Show, a business and marketing focused Q&A video show and podcast, as well as DailyVee, a docu-series highlighting what its like to be a CEO, investor, speaker, and public figure in todays digital age.

Make sure to stay tuned for Garys latest project Planet of the Apps, Apples very first video series, where Gary will be a judge alongside Will.I.Am, Jessica Alba, and Gwyneth Paltrow. ----Follow Me Online Here:

Instagram: http://garyvaynerchuk.comSoundcloud: of the Apps: http://planetoftheapps.comPodcast: Library:

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Self-Awareness: Know Yourself: Gary Vaynerchuk - YouTube

Written by grays

November 29th, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

Robert Lanza Self-Awareness in the Pigeon

Posted: November 8, 2017 at 10:45 pm

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The Dawning of a New Era of Hope

Stem cell researcher Robert Lanza hopes to save thousands of lives and for a long time this caused him to fear for his own At the time, a doctor was threatened at a nearby fertility clinic, and a pipe bomb exploded at a bio lab in Boston. Back then I thought that there was probably a 50-50 chance that I was going to get knocked off because I was so visible, says the doctor. I said, okay, try to kill me Im still going to do what I think is right. In Lanzas case, doing what is right involves working with therapies based on human stem cells. The blind shall see again; the paralyzed shall walk again; the hemophiliac shall not bleed anymore. That may sound like something out of the Bible, but Lanza is no faith healer. In fact, the US business magazine Fortune called him the standard-bearer for stem cell research. Lanza is often compared to the main character played by Matt Damon in the film Good Will Hunting, a highly talented outsider who, like Lanza, comes from a humble background.

Initial Success: We have some surprisingly good visual outcome, says Steven Schwartz, an eye surgeon at UCLA. He says that one of his patients can read a clock again and go shopping, while another can recognize colors again. Lanza is a genius and his work is stellar, Schwartz says.

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Robert Lanza Self-Awareness in the Pigeon

Written by simmons

November 8th, 2017 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

A Beginners Guide to Self-Awareness –

Posted: October 11, 2017 at 5:56 pm

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The vast majority of people up to 95 percent, in fact believe they have a decent amount of self-awareness. And maybe youre one of the lucky 10 to 15 percent who really does have an accurate view of themselves but if were going by the numbers, well, the odds arent in your favor.

Those statistics are based on years of research from psychologist Tasha Eurich, author of the book Insight. On a good day, 80 percent of us are lying to ourselves about whether were lying to ourselves, Eurich says.Making things extra tricky is the fact that self-awareness has two components: Internal self-awareness is the ability to introspect and recognize your authentic self, whereas external self-awareness is the ability to recognize how you fit in with the rest of the world. Its almost like two different camera angles, Eurich says.

The two are independent, entirely different variables, meaning you can have one without the other. For example, maybe you know someone who is a complete navel-gazer with a high level of internal self-awareness. Yet you and everyone else think this person is a selfish jerk, but because he never receives external feedback, he has no idea. Conversely, someone could have a high level of external self-awareness, a clear understanding of how they fit in with the rest of the world, without knowing what they want and what makes them happy. To be truly, fully self-aware, though, you need both components a feat thats difficult to pull off for pretty much anyone. But, its worth noting, not impossible.

Accept that its going to be a challenge.

We villainize people for not being self-aware when all the decks are stacked against us, Eurich said. Pretty much all over the world, forces are conspiring to make us more self-absorbed, which is basically the opposite of being self-aware. Modern life makes it easy to become a part of what Eurich calls the cult of self: social media, for example, acts as a microphone-slash-spotlight we never have to turn off, while the concept of personal branding turns careful image curation into a professional skill. None of this is to suggest you should shut down your Facebook profile, Eurich says, but these elements can serve as environmental blocks to self-awareness: Whether or not you know it, the cult is trying to recruit us all.

Our environment isnt the only obstacle were all built with our own internal blocks as well. In a 2010 TED Talk titled The Riddle of Experience Versus Memory, psychologist Daniel Kahneman noted that our memories are often inaccurate, which makes introspection difficult. In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he writes:

Except for some effects that I attribute mostly to age, my intuitive thinking is just as prone to overconfidence, extreme predictions, and the planning fallacy as it was before I made a study of these issues. I have improved only in my ability to recognize situations in which errors are likely And I have made much more progress in recognizing the errors of others than my own.

In that last sentence, Kahneman is alluding to the bias blind spot, our tendency to recognize cognitive biases in others without noticing them in ourselves.

In other words, your brain isnt built to easily spot your own lack of self-awareness. It may seem like a futile pursuit, but Kahneman offers an answer thats a little bit hopeful, even if its also a little bit frustrating. What can be done about our biases? he writes. The short answer is that little can be achieved without considerable investment of effort.

Moving past these blocks first requires acknowledging where youre starting from. Indeed, the most powerful thing you can do is to gently stop assuming youre already self-aware, Eurich suggests.

Know why youre doing it.

From stronger relationships to increased well-being, there are countless benefits to self-awareness. For example, in a study commissioned by consulting firm Green Peak Partners, researchers from Cornell University examined the traits that contribute to the effectiveness of successful leaders, concluding thata high level of self-awareness was the strongest predictor of success.

It wasnt a particularly surprising finding, the paper noted; when leaders are self-aware, they know how to hire subordinates who are strong in the areas where they themselves are weak. These leaders are also more able to entertain the idea that someone on their team may have an idea that is even better than their own, the authors wrote. Confidence and power are often prioritized in leadership roles, they added, and leadership searches give short shrift to self-awareness, which should actually be a top criterion.

Make peace with who you are.

Just because self-awareness is a desirable trait doesnt mean its one we enjoy having. In a series of studies published last year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers asked subjects to engage in conversations with strangers, acquaintances, close friends, and loved ones, comparing the impression participants made on their conversation partner to the one they thought they made. Overall, the subjects enjoyed the interactions less when they had an accurate view of how they were perceived when they had high levels of external self-awareness.People tend to like individuals who have accurate self-perceptions, yet individuals tend to enjoy their own relationships more with people they believe see them in desirable ways, the authors concluded. In other words, ignorance can be bliss when it comes to external self-awareness; like a heavily filtered Instagram, wed rather people see a better version of ourselves, even if that version isnt quite accurate.

Which is why self-acceptance is a necessary ingredient in self-awareness. Self-acceptance is a really important tool to not just increase our self-awareness, but also love the person we think we are,Eurich says. You can think of them as two twin pillars. Without self-acceptance, self-awareness becomes an unpleasant process, which in turn keeps us from embracing it. To put it another way, learning to accept yourself makes it easier to be honest about who you are.

Ask yourself the right questions.

Introspection is key to building internal self-awareness, but aimless wandering through your own psyche probably wont get you very far. You need a framework. To that end, Eurich has identified seven pillars of self-knowledge to help guide introspection: your personality, values, passions, aspirations, strengths, weaknesses, and something she calls fit, which is the environment most conducive to your well-being.Start by giving yourself the time and space to mull over each of these areas. (Eurich has even created a 14-question quiz to help you along.)

Your approach matters, too. When introspecting, its common for people to ask why. Why didnt I get that promotion? Why do I keep fighting with my spouse? Research has shown there are two problems with this, Eurich said. The question why sucks us into an unproductive, paralyzed state. It gets us into this victim mentality. Second, no matter how confident we are about the answer to why, were almost always wrong.

Eurich and her colleagues looked at their research over the years to see what it was self-aware people were doing differently. We went through all of our interview transcripts and we started to see a pattern. They were almost never asking why, but they were asking themselves what, she says. What skills do I need to build in the future? What dont I know? Why questions are emotionally charged, whereas what questions are rational and figure-focused, making it easier to approach a problem objectively.

Make it a group effort.

To build external self-awareness, on the other hand, you need to let someone else answer the questions. Eurich suggests asking someone close to you what they think about you, potentially even using the framework of those seven pillars. You need to go in the outside world and get feedback from people you trust, people who want you to be successful but are also going to tell you the truth, she says. (Eurichs quiz is a two-parter you also have to find a friend to answer questions about you).

You should also gather feedback from multiple loving critics, as Eurich calls them, to ensure you arent only getting one view.Another loved one might see you in a completely different light. While you dont want to outright dismiss any feedback or criticism, you do have to learn to think objectively. Getting a second, or third, opinion can help. In the end, though, its on you to synthesize all those opinions into a cohesive self-portrait and then get acquainted with the result.

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A Beginners Guide to Self-Awareness -

Written by grays

October 11th, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

What Is Self-Awareness? – Life Skills That Matter

Posted: October 2, 2017 at 7:50 pm

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Once upon a time I regarded self-awareness as something that was of little value to me. It seemed too touchy-feely. When people told me I had to find myself, I thought, How can I find myself when Ive never been lost?

The self-assuredness of my early 20s was quickly shattered when I got laid off at the age of 26. Suddenly, I started feeling lost. I was starting to realize I had been directing all of my energies toward proving that I was an adult (whatever that meant!).

In reality I had no clue who I was. Yikes!

Obviously I missed school the day they taught us about self-awareness. Oh wait, thats right, they never taught any of us about it!

I believe the practice of self-awareness is one of the greatest skills in life because it enables you to learn about yourself in a way no one else can ever teach you. It shows you how to design your lifestyle on your terms.

Before we dive into defining self-awareness, lets break it down and focus on the meaning of awareness first.

I like to think of awareness as what you notice in life. Its about paying attention.

Its the details you pick up from your perception of the world. Its your consciousness actively gathering and processing information from your environment. Its how you experience life.

Theres lots of stuff to notice each day, each hour, and even each minute. Look up from this blog post for a moment and slowly scan the area around you. What did you notice? Which details can you describe?

My wife and I notice very different things about the world. I often tell her she could have been a CIA agent because she can recall an astonishing amount of detail from any given scene of life.

Im more oblivious. Well, not really oblivious so much as hyper-focused on one particular part of the same scene my wife and I are experiencing.

I tend to be very aware of people. I easily remember peoples names. I feel their vibe. I notice how people interact with each other in a group. I catalog their stories in my brain. I can pick up conversations exactly where we left off even if months have passed.

My wife, on the other hand, will notice the physical details and movements of all people, even strangers. I tend to be more aware of people I know or spark my curiosity.

Neither form of awareness is right or wrong. Theyre just different. Its our natural tendency.

If awareness is about noticing stuff in the world, self-awareness is about focusing your awareness on yourself.

Its your ability to notice your feelings, your physical sensations, your reactions, your habits, your behaviors, and your thoughts. You are aware of all those different aspects as if you were another person outside yourself observing them.

Another way to think of it is paying attention to your intuition.

Or as someone I once interviewed told me, self-awareness is about being honest with yourself.

We all have a self-image of how we want others to perceive us. You might view yourself as punctual, but in reality you are often late to appointments. Self-awareness is about focusing on the reality of your behavior and not on the story you tell yourself about yourself.

Many of the people I interviewed about feeling stuck in their lives often described a feeling they could no longer ignore.

On the surface of their lives, everything seemed fine. In fact, they were able to ignore and even repress this feeling because they didnt have the self-awareness to explore it.

Some felt a physical sensation in the pit of their stomach or a tingling in their chest. Others felt more and more distracted. People also told me they felt unsatisfied or unhappy, but had no idea why because they could see no immediate reason for it in their lives.

Those that started to investigate the source of these unexplained feelings and sensations were those that began a deeper practice of self-awareness.

They started observing even more subtle sensations and the nuanced circumstances of their behaviors. They gave their feelings a voice and hushed the monkey chatter of their conscious thoughts.

Those that chose not to investigate these feelings increasingly felt more anxious. More stressed out.

Exploring the unknown can be scary. We believe we have to have everything figured out by the time we are 30. Becoming self-aware about unresolved feelings threatens everything we thought we were supposed to be working toward.

I strongly encourage you to stop ignoring those feelings because theyll never truly go away. Instead, start exploring them through a practice of self-awareness.

At the very least you will learn more about yourself and how you can live in closer alignment with who you really are.

In the context of lifestyle design, self-awareness is the first step toward designing your lifestyle around the work youve always wanted to do.

It is the mechanism for acquiring self-knowledge, the path to learning which habits you need to alter to start working on your terms.

The first step for practicing self-awareness is gaining a greater awareness of your emotions.

We have been taught to shut our feelings out of our decision-making process and to rely solely on our rational thoughts.

I believe this puts our decision-making process out of balance. When we rely solely on our rational thoughts, we often make decisions to try to live up to someone elses ideals.

Our feelings are the internal advocate for our own ideals. To make effective decisions, we need both rational thought and our feelings. We need to pay attention to our gut as much as our brain.

I didnt become actively self-aware of my feelings until my early 30s. I suffered from chronic anxiety throughout much of my career, and I owe that to my deficient awareness of my feelings.

Bring greater awareness to your feelings by including them in your decisions. Listen to your gut and explore why your feelings might object to the decision of one of your rational thoughts.

Ask yourself, Where is that feeling coming from? Make a habit of recognizing your feelings.

The second step to practicing self-awareness is making a habit of tracking your feelings

Very simply, start writing down your most positive feelings and your most negative feelings. Keep a journal or note on your phone. Try it for at least 30 days.

Begin to notice patterns and trends. This simple practice will help you better define your purpose, your values, your motivations, and anything holding you back from the work youve always wanted to do.

I like to think of monitoring your feelings as communicating with your subconscious mind. Its your true inner voice. It often knows what you want in life before you are able to put it into words.

The third step for practicing self-awareness is expanding your practice to areas of your life beyond your feelings.

There are countless areas of your life you can monitor, but you should focus on areas you believe will have the greatest impact on designing your ideal lifestyle.

Once youve gotten experience with tracking your feelings, I recommend tracking your energy next. This will help you identify your peak performance period each day. These are the period(s) of the day when you are most energized, focused, and able to create your highest quality work. Tracking your energy will also provide insights into what motivates you and what drains you.

I know starting a self-awareness practice for the first time can be difficult, so thats why I created a 12-week self-assessment challenge to help begin your self-awareness practice. Its completely free.

Sign Up Now

Each week youll be emailed a new self-assessment challenge that prompts you to explore a specific aspect of your life like how you spend your money or identifying your values.

Developing a self-awareness practice is the foundation of lifestyle design. It is the primary method for learning about yourself and your needs.

It will also do wonders for reducing your anxiety and preventing you from getting stuck in the future.

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What Is Self-Awareness? - Life Skills That Matter

Written by simmons

October 2nd, 2017 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

Choking On Denial: Forest Fires And Climate Change – Huffington Post Canada

Posted: September 7, 2017 at 5:45 pm

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The human species is an amazing product of evolution. A fundamental part of it, our consciousness, itself a natural wonder, also happens to include self-awareness. Unlike other animals, we not only know some things, but we know that we know them.

It's why the Delphic oracle (so it's said) was able to first think about it, and then say, "Know thyself."

It's also why we can have philosophy cafes to discuss practical and esoteric subjects, while octopi don't. They may be smart, but they don't take that next step and think about why they are so smart.

Human sentience and unique self-awareness are astonishing capacities that, ironically, few humans actually think about.

Few humans think about how they are able to think, perhaps because of another unique feature of our cognitive state: denial. No clearer example is the denial over human-caused climate change.

Despite the fact climate change is established science, as certain as gravity, the denial mechanism is about as fired up as it can get.

Trouble is, science doesn't care whether it's believed or not. It just is.

Another thing is increasingly obvious about how this denialism is powered. For most denialists just like, unsurprisingly, Donald Trump nothing is going to change their minds about the reality of climate change (again, the science), how it has been caused (our use of fossil fuel) and what to do about it (rapidly replace our energy sources with renewable, sustainable energy sources).

For real-time examples of denialism run amok, just skim over the comments that'll most certainly appear below.

Another thing is obvious too: While Canadians love to chortle about how we are smarter than Americans, ignorance and basic human stupidity about climate change don't magically get turned back at the border.

"Build that Wall"?

If there were one for repelling callowness, I'd be all for it. Yet we have enough of our own homegrown elements to suffice.

As I peer out my window, all I see is smoke. Smoke from forest fires raging out of control in B.C. Despite the red flags burning our eyes and throats, it still isn't enough to get Canadians to seriously ask how our forests have become such tinder-boxes.

But let's do it anyways, even though I hear the denialists already.

So for starts, let's agree that, yes, some of it is natural occurrence. Yes, some of it is due to poor forestry practices.

But let's try to focus, shall we, and understand the issue as science sees the ferocity and frequency of these fires like those seen in Fort McMurray just last year.

Whatever other issues are playing their part, the intensity of these fires is due to how we remain willfully ignorant about how addiction to fossil fuels is having a cumulative effect, intensifying climate change.

Let's connect the dots.

Interesting that several weeks ago, with sunny clear blue skies, we were reading about the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Some of us were musing over Mr. Trudeau's assertion that it was going to happen, and that no leader would leave 170 billion barrels of Alberta bitumen in the ground.

So, what will it take to acknowledge the science?

We need to realize that our environmental policies shouldn't have to wait for denialists. Decisions should be dependent on the science, as any other policy.


After all, nature, once abused, pushes back to remind us that our actions have real consequences. So as mentioned, while Trump and others deny it, the effects as they are reported, practically on a daily basis, are as clear as can be:

"Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor. ... The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, as well as the warmest years on record for the globe." Executive Summary of the National Climate Assessment

Sadly, watching our province burn to the ground, the horror we have fleeing our homes, choking on the smoke, witnessing the destruction of our wildlife, and counting the millions of dollars in damages and the incredible hardship on those fighting the fires maybe more will begin to connect the dots.

If so, they'd better hurry, because the rest of us can't wait.

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Choking On Denial: Forest Fires And Climate Change - Huffington Post Canada

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September 7th, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Self-Awareness

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