The last time you looked in a mirror, did you see another person or did you recognize the image to be yourself?
Self-awareness is something that drives much of human society. The fashion industry is dependent upon our being self-aware. What difference would clothing even make without it? Or the diet industry? Or the self-help industry and the list goes on and on.
For many years, the concept of self-awareness was reserved for man and man alone. Then about forty years ago, scientists discovered that some species of primates had a sense of self-awareness. Those species that exhibited this rare trait were those that are classified as higher primates, which included chimpanzees. Self-awareness was a ‘mark’ test used to help boost the evolutionary concept that man was descended from the higher primates.
That is until recently.
A new study just released demonstrates that some rhesus macaque monkeys also have a sense of self-awareness. The initial report was doubted and questioned by others until it was proven to be true. A couple of rhesus macaque monkeys were fitted with neural implants and then placed in front of a mirror. The monkeys used the mirror to examine the implants on their own foreheads. They also used the mirrors to examine their genitals and on several occasions adjusted the mirrors for a better view of themselves.
Now evolutionary scientists are having to re-evaluate their ‘mark’ test for self-awareness and re-think its impact on their evolutionary paradigm. Their entire concept of a cognitive divide in primate lineage has been undermined. According to one scientist, “…instead of a divide, self-awareness has evolved along a continuum, so we will find it in different forms in different locations on the tree of evolution. I think the mark test may not be sensitive enough to detect self-awareness in the lower species; they may have it, but in a different form, and and it may show up in different situation, using different tests.”
It’s very convenient to have a paradigm that can easily be shifted and restructured to compensate for new discoveries that go against the existing paradigm. When you build your house on shifting sand, you will soon find yourself having to repair and alter the foundation until eventually the house collapses with nothing left to stand on. Evolution is nothing more than shifting sand that has no solid foundation.