Talk:Self-awareness

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My Proposal For A New Introduction[edit]

Self Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment. It is perhaps best summed up by the seemingly paradoxical thought "that is me". This may denote introspection, wherein we recognise our own consciousness, realising "that thinker is me", and thus the seemingly paradoxical ability to interrogate oneself. Or it may denote a level of social awareness in which we recognise ourselves as a causing agent, realising that "the person who did that is me". The Buddhist practice of mindfulness resides somewhere between these, causing us to recognise our thoughts and conduct and the impact they have upon our mental state and social activity, noting "that of me did this to me". However, Buddhism also radically undermines the notion of the self as it proposes that, through contemplation, one comes to realise there is no difference between one's self and the cosmic self. Through this, it is claimed that one arrives at a more profound level of self-awareness in which the self, its identity and its desires, are seen to be illusions and are thus dispelled. Most other Faiths share this notion of there being a more profound level of self-awareness, attainable through religious practice, wherein one becomes aware of a oneness with God or the universe. This obviously challenges those notions of self-awareness which revolve around our considering ourselves to be separate from others and our environment.

In scientific and philosophical terms, the concept of self-awareness usually pertains to a consciouness that is capable of interrogating itself and analyzing its own existence, a phenomena that evinces a degree of logical apparatus. The existence of self-awareness, in this sense, is usually considered to be one of the biggest philosophical problems, and its coming into being, as well as the mechanism by which it works, is still a thorny issue for scientists and philosophers. Various forms of Theism have traditionally posited an explanation of its existence by proposing that it has been seeded within us by a similarly self-aware cosmic-self, known as God. As yet, however, this does not qualify as a scientific explanation. Naturalistic attempts at explaining it, in keeping with science's remit of methodological naturalism, have ranged from an assertive materialist point of view, as expressed by Daniel Dennett, that consciousness is merely a by-product of the brain and is thus almost within reach of being explained, to a more perplexed view, like that of Thomas Nagel, which sees the existence of self-aware consciousness as such a stumbling block to modern science that it may need to rethink its entire approach.cjmonks

I have posted the above proposal for an improved introduction to this subject as I feel the current overview, in its attempt to answer what it is, is misleading. I believe it would be far more educational to lead with a recognition that the whole problem of self-aware consciousness, how it actually works and how it evolved, is such a stumbling block for scientists and philosophers at this moment that little can be said about it which is concrete. This would also help explain why the overview itself rambles all over the place. Instead, as it currently stands, the overview leads with a "neurological basis" which actually is just some wild speculation over what that basis might be. As with most things that are currently conjectural, I believe it is more honest, accurate, scientific, and informative to acknowledge that they are, indeed, currently conjectural. My proposed introduction would, I believe, establish a more appropriate tone for reading the rest of the article.
The notion, in the current introduction, that self-awareness is when one is aware that one is aware of one's body is, I would suggest, philosophical nonsense. Instead, as my intro explains, self-awareness is simply an awareness of the self at different levels; an awareness of thoughts, of the body, and of our actionscjmonks

We hope for eternal life !?[edit]

"By extension, we hope for eternal life beyond the grave — God, heaven, paradise — because otherwise our existential situation has no meaning." This sounds way too religious to me. (I would say it sounds christian/moslem). It has no universal meaning. Most people I know are atheists and knowing their life is right now is what gets them up in the morning. Hope and motivation springs from the idea that you will try your best to make today the best day of your life, and you cherish other people's lives just as much, as you also recognize they've only got one shot at it. I think I will just edit that part out. 85.165.88.203

The whole thing seems to be written with very, lets say "flowery" language, and not like an encyclopedia entry at all. BURNyA 21:17, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Well, it's all about John Locke. The non-directly quoted stuff is still pulled from him (not that I think he originated this concept, or should be the focus of the article). Saying that most people you know ae Athiests is both irrelevant, and likely un-true. The large majority of people on the planet acknowledge a higher power, this not applying to you or your friends is hardly important from an encyclopediatic viewpoint. 206.126.163.20 (talk) 23:21, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Whether his friends are atheist or not (and why not just believe him? You don't know where he lives or who his friends are), an article on self-awareness, from an "encyclopediatic" viewpoint, should not make assumptions about an afterlife in its wording — Preceding unsigned comment added by Student298 (talkcontribs) 06:55, 12 December 2014 (UTC)

self-awareness in social psychology[edit]

Social psychology uses the term self-awareness for a situation that has the person focused on him-or herself. Self-awareness theory details when this focus leads to behavioral change and when it is actively avoided. (a visitor) 16:12, 6 may 2008, (CEST)

Self-awareness in animals[edit]

Apparently, magpies can be added to the list of animals other than humans that exhibit self-awareness: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14552-mirror-test-shows-magpies-arent-so-birdbrained.html --- Nashville strigoi (talk) 12:05, 20 August 2008 (UTC)


This article confuses me, in the introduction of the article, we have the line 'I think, therefore I am', then later on we have a bit about animals identifying themselves in a mirror. These two concepts are completely unrelated. The major fault I see is there is confusion with what 'Self-awareness' means, there are two main concepts, a ability for an animal to recognize itself I an mirror, and the philosophical concept of 'Cogito ergo sum' ("I am thinking, therefore I exist"). The introduction needs a complete rewrite, or even deleted, as Both the 'Mirror test' and 'Cogito ergo sum' are covered in other articles. --Spacemonkeynz (talk) 00:40, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

It would help this section if it were explained exactly how scientists came up with the idea that some animals are self-aware besides simply adding a link to Mirror Test.--Alang pennstate '13 (talk) 05:36, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Also there is very little information about the other animals known to have self awareness namely Elephants, different dolphin types and different types of great apes(are all great ape species self aware?). Also what other bird species have self awareness? Are they degrees or a spectrum if you like of self awareness? Also is self awareness related to the brain size/body size ratio? These are all important points and questions which none are answered!! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.29.56.206 (talk) 18:44, 16 February 2014 (UTC) Also there is no information about at what age animals become self aware in there psychological development , for instance humans and Bottlenose dolphins both become self aware approximately at the age of 2. Before this age children and dolphins do not respond to the spot test.There needs to be information on these points and also in other animals. In fact there is very little, if anything about self awareness in humans.The whole main article is complete naff! Please somebody with knowledge and expertise in this area rewrite this article! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.29.56.206 (talk) 19:20, 16 February 2014 (UTC) Also i add some valid points namely on the Elephant. The Elephant which is also considered self aware by scientists is the only other known animal beside ourself's to respond to a corpse(s) of there own kind. This has been documented time and time again where a herd of Elephants will come across skeletal remains of a dead Elephant(s) and the herd will stop and surround the bones feeling the skull with there trunks and seem to be in a state of mourning. This is also suggestive that Elephants are not only self aware but are aware of others self awareness and empathy towards there own kind. Elephants are the only other animal besides ourself's that recognize skeletal remains of there own kind. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.29.56.206 (talk) 19:44, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

In relation to the mirror test for animals, it may be intresting to note that there are disociation disorders which mean that humans don't recognise themselves in the mirrorcjmonks

Original Research[edit]

Can we determine what is original research or just unsourced info. Will review article looking for definite material that may not be suitible for wikipedia savasas (talk) 12:57, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Junkkkkk[edit]

This article is a mess. Basically, everything after the introduction needs to be completely rewritten. I'm not an expert on the subject, but even from a basic standpoint, it's awful. You can't tell what's supposed to be quoted and what's not. Sources are nonexistent. Mess mess mess. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.229.7.126 (talk) 04:55, 27 March 2009 (UTC) Here! Here! i agree, what a load of naff! Somebody who knows what they are talking about please rewrite this article.

Agreed[edit]

Moved the entire lede here and replaced with a simple statement. The Mess:

Self-awareness is the awareness that one exists as an individual, separate from other people, and with private thoughts.[1] It may also include the understanding that other people are similarly self-aware.[2]

Self-awareness is a self-conscious state in which attention focuses on oneself. It makes people more sensitive to their own attitudes and dispositions.[3]

Sometimes when self-consciousness is not taken to mean shyness or embarrassment, it is used synonymously with self-awareness:

Self-consciousness is credited only with the development of identity (see ego). In an epistemological sense, self-consciousness is a personal understanding of the very core of one's own identity. It is during periods of self-consciousness that people come the closest to knowing themselves objectively. Jean Paul Sartre describes self-consciousness as being "non-positional", in that it is not from any location in particular.

Self-consciousness plays a large role in behavior, as it is common to act differently when people "lose one's self in a crowd". It is the basis for human traits, such as accountability and conscientiousness. Self-consciousness affects people in varying degrees, as some people self-monitor (or scrutinize) themselves more than others. Different cultures vary in the importance they place on self-consciousness but the individual remains self-motivated rather than socially driven.[4]


  1. ^ Edward F. Cooke A Detailed Analysis of the Constitution, p. 106, Littlefield Adams & Co., 1974 LCCC #58-12751
  2. ^ The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Einstein, p. 232, Alpha Books, 2004 ISBN 978-1592571857
  3. ^ Nathaniel Branden The Psychology of Self-Esteem, p. 41, Nash Publishing Corp., 1969 ISBN 8402-1109-0
  4. ^ Anthony P. Cohen Self-Consciousness, p. 136, Routledge, 1994 ISBN 978-0415083249

Curent lede text preserves the one non-comic reference from the above. Don't know what the state was when the user above made their comment and assume the rest of the article in a similar state. This is an important philosophical topic and apparently this is to be its mainspace place so I will also add expert tag to cleanup. Lycurgus (talk) 05:31, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

I am a paranoiac[edit]

Self-consciousness was, and still is, in many Western Philosophical texts, a term of endearment to me. I know what is meant by the reference to paranoid mental states. Self-consciousness, being a Western Philosophical term, is meant to signify something completely different.

It can mean (appropriation): the basis of personal identity.

It can mean self-consciousness (individuality as a state of mind) towards freedom (Hegel)

It can be a part of consciousness, not paranoid mental states, but those of memory, thought, introspection, etc.

I close with a quote here:

“Ethical life is the idea of freedom in that on the one hand it is the good become alive – the good endowed in self-consciousness with knowing and ethical life 225 willing and actualised by self-conscious action – while on the other hand self-consciousness has in the ethical realm its absolute foundation and the end which actuates its effort.” Hegel, Philosophy of Right

thanks, scottf@q.com

Still incoherent[edit]

The intro says it's the knowledge that the self is an entity that has thoughts, as opposed to merely the awareness of the thoughts. I think it says that, anyway, it's rather vague and rambling. Something about the ability to think about thoughts, choose which thoughts to believe, perhaps? In any event, how does that relate to the ability to understand that the splotch I'm seeing in the mirror is actually on my head? It seems that we have at least two different senses of the phrase here, and possibly more.

The article shouldn't be about self-awareness, which is vague and has had many different definitions. The article should be about the concept of self-awareness. Instead of trying to tell us what self-awareness is (and I am not convinced there really is a coherent concept there), it would be better to present various definitions of the concept used by various schools of thought at various times.

Beyond the scope of anything I could do, I'm afraid. But if we can't at least present a clear paragraph or two on the subject I'd suggest replacing it with a stub until someone with some expertise in the history of philosophy is able to get to it.

As my grandmother used to say, "If you can't say something concrete and coherent, don't say anything at all." Nobody liked her much.

Eshafto (talk) 16:13, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't think.[edit]

Actually I don't think. Just because there are thoughts doesn't mean that I think. It seems more like the thoughts think me. Just wanted to say, that after meditating for years this famous quote seems quite naive. Can't explain, but so can't he. Not saying that I'm right, but "obvious" is not always as obvious as it might at first seem. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 84.251.122.167 (talk) 21:06, 29 May 2011 (UTC)


Nominate for Deletion[edit]

I propose this article be nominated for deletion. Though I am aware of the extent to which an article must be flawed or unnecessarily in order to merit this measure, suffice to say, this article meets all the criteria.

1. Extraordinarily redundant. A quick look at Self, Sentience, and Hard Problem of Consciousness illustrate numerous attempts to define roughly the same idea: self-awareness. It is already difficult enough to describe in an encyclopedia using proper language, much less describe in three (or more) different ways already present on Wikipedia.

2. The article itself is extremely flawed. The level of encyclopedic integrity is minimal, and it has not progressed in a number of years. With its current status, plus its unquestionable stagnation, well, it speaks for itself.

3. In order to fix or simply patch of this article would be a monumental waste of time and energy. Why? Well, as previously mentioned, the same time and energy could go to far more mature articles such as those aforementioned, which have already progressed despite great difficulty. Given the lack of academic consensus in the fields of philosophy and psychology on the ideas of self-awareness and similar topics, it is not worth the effort to essentially redo this article.

Informer3X 22:21 (UTC) 8 July 2011

The "philosophical" section seems like it should be cut. The section on the "mirror test" and a few others things could be retained. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 10:01, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

If anything it's only gotten worse since then. Parts of it are ok, but it wanders all over the place, and the adolescent section looks like it's from a freshman high school essay. Statalyzer (talk) 07:17, 1 February 2014 (UTC)

  • This article should not be deleted because it is "flawed". That's a reason for improving it. Just because it is a difficult article to pull together is no reason to give up on it. There are, for example, nearly 20,000 references to self-awareness in Google Scholar, and much more in Google Books. The Wikipedia article, imperfect as it is, gets about 30,000 views a month. It is a significant topic that attracts considerable interest, including academic interest. It deserves more input than just lazily trashing certain sections because they need more work. Disagreement and confusion concerning the topic needs articulating, not dismissing. --Epipelagic (talk) 09:26, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree. It might conceivably be merged with related articles, but the term is well-established and needs an entry. It is a term with multiple definitions, which vary across disciplines, so if it has a meaning in philosophy, it needs a section (though it was un-encyclopedic and I've tried to fix that). Chrismorey (talk) 05:47, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Sources[edit]

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0038413

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2012/08/22/self.awareness.humans.more.complex.diffuse.previously.thought — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sidelight12 (talkcontribs) 02:35, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

Self-awareness[edit]

This article could be improved by making the content flow with one another. I agree with someone who posted the concept of "I think, therefore I am" is pretty hard to relate to an animal recognizing itself in the mirror, although i understand why that was placed here. I think this article could benefit with some edits and be written in a way to make one subject flow into the next, making it more reader friendly. Dblakee (talk) 03:36, 28 September 2013 (UTC)

New Ideas to improves[edit]

My ideas to improve this article are to explain what factors come along in an individual that has self-awareness and compare those factors to experiments that have been done on animals. I will explain a few experiments that have been done, for example, the Mirror Test, and others done on different primates that verify self-awareness in animals. I will talk about why these results correlate to the same self-awareness that humans have. --Scicale18 (talk) 02:04, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Theater[edit]

I will show how to connect self-awareness with the theater/movies. Just how the actors convince the people. I then connect that with the theory of self-awareness. The plan is to go more into just what working memory, processing speed and reasoning really are and show the connection to the theater. I will also talk about television and all the reality shows and their take on self-awareness. Dionneba (talk) 00:58, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

Hi thereDionneba sounds really interesting, but also a lot like original research? ... don't forget WP:NOR ... will you be citing references or are they your own ideas? Depthdiver (talk) 03:58, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

"This article" references?[edit]

So I noticed a few sentences that seemed out of place on wikipedia:

There is an ongoing debate as to whether animals have consciousness or not; but in this article the question is to whether animals have self-awareness?

And

are thinking which relates perfectly to Gallup’s statement in the beginning of this article

Does references to "this article" belong in Wikipedia? The first sentence in particular struck me more as an essay then an encyclopedia article. Thoughts? Chris M. (talk) 13:20, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

apparently "self-awareness" means different things to different people, and this article simply lumps everything together without distinctions[edit]

I think the "adolescent" section is closer to the concept of "introspection" i.e. teenagers allegedly learn to introspect about emotions. Autism section sounds like bullshit - it's pretty clear that these researchers are observing autistics poorly "reading" other people, but give no evidence for claims about their ability or inability to accurately introspect about themselves. Schizophrenia section seems to boil down to whether schizophrenics are aware or not aware of being schizophrenic. So I think it's pretty clear that the term is used for all sorts of concepts having little to do with the nice definition in the article intro. 76.119.30.87 (talk) 02:19, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

Self-awareness or self awareness?[edit]

What should the spelling be?--Adûnâi (talk) 11:59, 11 July 2017 (UTC)

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