Proposal for an evolutionary nature of self-consciousness linked to a human specific anxiety (Neurex 2018)

Abstract

This presentation is about an evolutionary scenario for self-consciousness linked to a human specific anxiety. It is a continuation of other works (2011 Book chapter, 2014 TSC Poster). AIM: Present a scenario describing an evolutionary nature of self-consciousness that introduces a human specific anxiety which is active in our human lives. METHOD: The scenario starts with our pre-human ancestors which were capable to manage representations and to partly identify with their conspecifics (Olds 2006, DeWaal 2008). These identifications brought our ancestors to merge the representations of their conspecifics with the limited auto-representation of their own entity. The result was an auto-representation becoming about an entity existing in environment. This process is proposed as having progressively generated an ancestral form of self-consciousness as object and as subject. These identifications took place also with suffering conspecifics and have imposed to our ancestors a huge anxiety increase that had to be limited. Tools developed for that limitation (caring, collaboration, empathy, ToM, ...) have linked consciousness to anxiety management while also procuring evolutionary benefits. Human minds now contain an unconscious part of that ancestral anxiety that guides many of our mental states. RESULT: An evolutionary scenario for self-consciousness is made available as linked to a specific anxiety management that characterizes human minds. Continuations are introduced, some related to mental health. CONCLUSION: The proposed evolutionary scenario presents self-consciousness and a specific human anxiety as sharing a same evolutionary nature. This new source of anxiety needs more investigations.

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