Recently developed extensions of evolutionary theory are used to explain the human self as an evolved, unitary, and purposeful phenomenon. A basic mechanism that can generate life's agency and goal-directedness is combined with mechanisms that can account for awareness by and of the self, and for the social characteristics of humans. The new theory is largely consistent with major existing theories of the self, in particular theories centred on self-esteem, self-determination theory, and terror management theory. It can therefore be regarded as a meta-theory that brings these theories, and related ones, within a common evolutionary framework. The theory suggests two primary dimensions of the self, the depth of awareness of the self and the social extent of the self.
A revised and updated version of this paper can be found as Chapter 13 ('The human self') in my book 'The estimator theory of life and mind: how agency and consciousness can emerge', see VANTET-8 at philpapers