Home The Ultimate RelationshipHumanity Upgrade The Evolutionary Origins of Self

The Evolutionary Origins of Self

The Neurology of Awareness and Self: Part Five

written by Rick Hanson February 4, 2020
The Evolutionary Origins of Self

Part Five: The Evolutionary Origins of Self

The dualistic ego-mind is essentially a survival mechanism, on a par with the fangs, claws, stingers, scales, shells, and quills that other animals use to protect themselves. By maintaining a separate self-sense, it attempts to provide a haven of security . . . Yet the very boundaries that create a sense of safety also leave us feeling cut off and disconnected. – John Welwood


To help ourselves – and others, perhaps – to transcend the self, it helps to understand why the self arises in the brain – in other words, to understand the survival functions of the self and their evolutionary origins.

By addressing those needs of the organism through ways other than self, we can, in effect, thank self for its vigilance and its labors throughout the years, and then say, “Goodnight sweet prince,” and put self to bed, at least for a time – and, perhaps with liberation, forever.

So, where did this self come from, anyway?

Origins of Rudimentary Self

Our account of the development of self in evolution – and its related architecture in the brain – is straightforward, but it can get a little thorny, so we are going to take it step by step, with numbers, no less.

The key question we will try to answer is:

How does the brain construct the two fundamental properties of self: identity and agency?
  1. As Damasio and others have noted, with rudimentary core consciousness – imagine that of a worm or a fly – there are basic representations of the state of an organism’s body. Those representations comprise the experience of the organism.
  2. To access the rest of this article, please register for a free membership


Related Articles

Log In

Lost Password


The first step to becoming a member of the RD&T Community and the beginning of your personal Journey to Ultimate Success:

Join Now

Click the button below to register for a free membership and have access to unlimited articles.