The Evolutionary Origins of Self

With Stuart Alan Kauffman, Katherine T. Peil, and Neil Theise; facilitated by Chris Fields.

Microbes vigorously defend themselves against attack, distinguish friendly from unfriendly members of their communities, and approach suitable partners to initiate sex. What if anything do they experience when doing so? Do they, in particular, experience selfhood? Do fish that protect their nests experience ownership? Do crows that manufacture tools from unfamiliar objects experience planning and agency? Do dogs, elephants and horses experi- ence themselves as related in some particular way to each of the other members of their social groups? Do chimps recognize their memories as their own? What in general can we say about the evolution of the experience of selfhood? Did the multifaceted human sense of self evolve as a unit, or did its various components develop separately?

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