Archive for the ‘extra_credit’ Category

Week 7/Consciousness - Extra Credit/Section D

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Seeking Self-Consciousness – Extra Credit Blog

Based on this week’s earlier blog, I decided that I could not accurately state what self-consciousness was until I completely understood what defines self-consciousness.  Curious, I decided to see if I could, first of all, understand was self-consciousness was.  Then I would see if I could personally experience such comprehension.

I had a good lead to work off of, being the current connotation of the phrase: “self-conscious.”  Normally this bears a less than positive meaning, implying that an individual sees some flaw or imperfection that makes the said individual aware of him or herself.  Although this could very well be used to prove that humans are capable of understanding and comprehending their own existence, I felt that this answer would be too simple.

Why?  Humans surely change their appearance because they feel that their current state is imperfect and requires change.

So do animals.  Especially during mating season.

Countless species groom themselves and go through a number of aesthetic changes to prepare for and woo their potential mates.  Take, for instance, the Frigate Bird.  When attempting to court a mate, a male will inflate a pouch in its throat to look like a massive juicy strawberry.  (link provided below)

Strange?  Yes.

Does it work?  The species is still around last I checked.

What does this mean?

It simply means that these creatures undergo a series of strange changes, both natural and forced, in order to beat natural selection.  Humans do the same thing.  Why do girls fear looking fat?  Simply (and bluntly, forgive me) stated, they want to look sensually appealing to the opposite sex, and the same applies to the male gender.  If sex was not on our minds, we would probably look much worse than most overweight and out-of-shape people do now.  Deeper research into many tropical creatures furthers this reasoning.  In lush places where food is naturally abundant, many species do not have to spend extended durations of time seeking for it.  This gives them much more time to be “self-conscious.”  As a result, there are amazingly beautiful creatures in the tropics.   Why?  Natural selection.

As a result, self-consciousness could be reasoned to be nothing more than a subtle beauty directive built into the minds of people and animals.  That defeats the purpose though.  One more way of proving our “self-consciousness” has been defeated.  So what makes people, or anything, self-conscious, and how do you experience it?

Devoid of any more leads, I decided to attempt to contemplate self-consciousness by attempting to contemplate who I was.  Years ago, I recall looking in a mirror and beginning to question who it was looking back at me.  The question awoke my mind and forced me to think.

Who is that looking back at me?

Of course it’s me!

But who am I?

Nathan Reynolds.

No, you don’t understand, who am I?

I could not answer that question.  I could not put a finger on who I was.  I don’t know why.  Maybe that is the answer to experiencing true self-consciousness that I was looking for.  Not the answer, but the question.  When you can answer the question, it can be reasoned out as a directive or a mental code built into an individual, like a line of code in a computer program.

Until I can find a better reason behind the experience of self-consciousness, my answer, is not an answer, but a question: Who is that looking back at me?