Varela F. J. (1971) Self-consciousness: Adaptation or epiphenomenon? Studium Generale 24: 426–439. https://cepa.info/1899
Self-consciousness: Adaptation or epiphenomenon?.
Studium Generale 24: 426–439.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/1899
This paper is an attempt to arrive at a species-specific characterization of human consciousness by considering its value as a biological adaptation. The analysis considers conscious phenomena in animals to motivate the distinction between self-consciousness and consciousness; the distinction is substantiated with neurological data. The relation between self-consciousness and language is considered in the light of the evolution of human language. Finally, a mechanism is postulated, based on current neurobiological knowledge, which makes it possible to account for self-consciousness as an epiphenomenon of language.