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Unformatted text preview: Paul Moses 1 PHL 150 Essay #2 Society and Human Development 19 th century German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel formed many revolutionary ideas on the concepts of self-consciousness and identity. His work heavily influenced much of modern Western philosophy, and is accepted as correct by many mainstream philosophers for good reason. Hegels ideas regarding self-consciousness provide a valid and convincing explanation of human psychological development. First, Hegel makes the distinction between consciousness and self-consciousness. He claims that all animals have a consciousness, meaning that they are aware of their surroundings and the actions they must take to exist in these surroundings. The idea of self-consciousness, however, is unique to humans. While a squirrel is aware of acorns, trees, and predators, only humans are aware of themselves within that environment. A squirrel does not stop and think, Why am I gathering nuts, and what do the other squirrels think of this? It simply stockpiles acorns and eats them to survive because thats what its environment dictates. A human on the other hand is aware both of what it needs to do in a given environment and how the environment affects the self. The concept of self has not always existed in human history. In fact, Hegel contends that our current sense of self did not evolve until the Enlightenment. He says that society and the needs of the group have been around since the beginning of human existence, but that this had to be cultivated and developed into a sense of individuality over time. He also argues that all humans must pass through all stages of human development as they grow up. It starts at infancy, when a baby has consciousness but no concept of self. Over time, through parental and societal training, an infant grows up Paul Moses 2 PHL 150 Essay #2 while developing a sense of self through things such as names and cultural identity. This reflects the development of individuality through human evolution, where human...
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This essay was uploaded on 04/16/2008 for the course PHL 150 taught by Professor Trout during the Spring '08 term at Portland.
- Spring '08