Evolution of Self-Consciousness. Pan-Homo Split and Anxiety Management. (June 2023 ASSC 26 Poster. Not presented)


Primatology tells that about seven million years ago a split began in primate evolution, a split that led to chimpanzee and human lineages (the pan-homo split). During these millions of years our human lineage has developed performances that our chimpanzee cousins do not possess, like reflective self-consciousness and language. We present here an evolutionary scenario that proposes a rationale for the pan-homo split. It is based on a pre-human anxiety that may have barred access to self-consciousness for the chimpanzee lineage. The starting point of the scenario is the capability that had our pre-human ancestors for an elementary identification with conspecifics. We consider that the evolution of that capability has led to self-consciousness when identifications with conspecifics brought our ancestors to represent their own entity as existing, like conspecifics were represented. But the same identification process also took place with endangered and dying conspecifics. And this has produced a huge anxiety increase, source of important mental sufferings that our ancestors had to limit. Our hypothesis is that different modes of anxiety limitation have led to the pan-homo split. On one side the chimpanzee lineage would have limited an unbearable mental suffering by stopping the development of identifications with conspecifics, and by this also stopping a possible evolution toward self-consciousness. Such anxiety limitation process has led to today chimpanzees which possess a very limited consciousness of themselves. On the other side, our human lineage would have successfully developed anxiety limitation tools like caring, pleasure, anticipation, communication and imitation. With these tools accelerating the evolution of our lineage toward our human mind. The proposed pan/homo split process complements an existing evolutionary scenario for self-consciousness that has positioned anxiety management as a key contributor to the build-up of our human minds. Such overall perspective makes anxiety management a major source to many of our motivations and mental states, much more than assumed so far. Continuations are proposed for a better understanding about our modes of anxiety limitation (including evil behaviors), and also to introduce a possible evolutionary nature of phenomenal consciousness.

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