Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture

Emotions Conference 2016 (15 of 20) | Philippe Rochat | Origins of Uncanny Self-Conscious Emotions

Episode Summary

Emotions Conference 2016 (15 of 20) | Philippe Rochat | Origins of Uncanny Self-Conscious Emotions

Episode Notes

Self-consciousness and self-conscious emotions are hallmark characteristics of human psychology, a gift and curse from Nature. It is a gift because it allows us to be incomparably creative. It is a curse because it determines uncanny conscious experiences such as the inescapable awareness of impending self-disappearance (death).  I will argue that the fear of separation and the basic affiliation need we share with other animals is for us combined with unmatched preoccupations with reputation, self-preoccupation, and the constant gauging of the self through the evaluative eyes of others. This combination leads to an uncanny capacity for self-delusions, misunderstandings, lies, and other duplicities that are also the trademark of human self-conscious psychology.   I illustrate the emergence of such psychology by presenting some empirical observations collected in recent years on the uncanny mirror self-experience of young children across cultures, social conformity and the emerging sense of sharing as well as material ownership by young children in the US and around the world.   I will conclude with the speculation that universally, as children become self-conscious (in the sense proposed here), they develop the potential for guilt and lies, both signs of emerging moral awareness and the source of new uncanny self-conscious emotions like pride, shame, and envy, all by-products of human self-conscious psychology. (February 12, 2016)