WHY SELF-REFLECTION? An Evolutionary Puzzle


Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science

Tulane University, New Orleans; University of Bucharest

Director, the Open Mind Master program in cognitive science, University of Bucharest

will lecture on

WHY SELF-REFLECTION? An Evolutionary Puzzle

Tuesday, November 19, 17.00 – 20.00

Amfiteatrul Titu Maiorescu, Facultatea de Filosofie

Splaiul Independentei 204

For all we know, a self-reflective mind is not present in any other animal species, including nonhuman primates and possibly archaic humans, and is also absent human children before the age of four to five. All these other species handle their existential challenges very well without self-reflecting. The reasons for and the adaptive value of self-reflection in just one species are neither obvious nor easily explained. To add to the mystery, the evolution of self-reflection, possibly rather recent, possibly rather speedy and in only one species, ours, appears to violate the normally incremental, frugal, tinkering and across-species work of natural selection. So, why did a self-reflective mind evolve, for what reasons and how, out of which mental resources, and why only in modern humans? From some new perspectives, this lecture will venture a few evolutionary answers to these difficult questions.