Is it possible to posses a self awareness without having any sort of language at hand, not even a personal sign system. How would such an languageless experience be like?

I am not sure if this can be correlated, but how would be the experience or awareness of an Infant before gaining self-awareness and language.

  • $\begingroup$ infant-cognition language-acquisition $\endgroup$ – sabithpocker Mar 24 '14 at 7:20
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    $\begingroup$ do you literally mean self-awareness or do you mean consciousness in general? $\endgroup$ – Keegan Keplinger Apr 12 '14 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ @KeeganKeplinger I specifically mean self-awareness. (I even wonder how it would feel without an inner voice we use to think at times) $\endgroup$ – sabithpocker Apr 12 '14 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Well, depending on what you accept as evidence, the infants of great apes are able to recognize themselves in a mirror before human infants can, developmentally, and it probably has more to do with self-monitoring circuits developing than language. $\endgroup$ – Keegan Keplinger Apr 12 '14 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ @KeeganKeplinger So you are saying that self awareness is handled by self monitoring circuits? Where can i find more information on this? Thank you. $\endgroup$ – sabithpocker Apr 12 '14 at 15:57

If we think of self-awareness as an evolved brain circuit phenomenon, its existence probably has little dependence on language in particular. This is evidenced by the fact that Alzheimer patients loss of self-awareness, as well as changes in self-awareness due to injury are associated with the frontal lobe. That's not to say that the self and self-awareness aren't heavily modulated by language (as are most mental constructs!) There are several non-human animals that pass the self-awareness test but most of them are creatures that many consider to be closer to the intelligence of humans than other animals (namely, great apes, elephants, and dolphins). Consequentially, many of these animals have also developed methods of communication, though language might be too strong of a word.

Finally, such a dependence would imply that the strong version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has some legitimacy (especially when it comes to the self) but there's been no evidence found in support of the strong version, and most cognitive scientists favor the weak version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the explanation you have satisfied much of my question.If i am not asking too much can you please add where language fits in the cognitive stack(I feel that much of my thinking and inner-voice is dependent on language)? Also is there any clinical case of losing language like losing self-awareness. $\endgroup$ – sabithpocker Apr 12 '14 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ I believe the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (known more generally as linguistic relativity) touches on this. You might also be interested in and outdated theory called Bicameralism. Probably wrong, but interesting and possibly still somehow relevant. $\endgroup$ – Keegan Keplinger Apr 12 '14 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, I am reading through them, even though some need to be purchased. Thank you for the references and the answer. $\endgroup$ – sabithpocker Apr 12 '14 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I apologize. Pay walls for such information, often paid for by public taxes, are an annoying aspect of modern scientific culture. $\endgroup$ – Keegan Keplinger Apr 12 '14 at 16:37

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