I was around age 3 to 4 at the time, making it between the years 1981-82, and I’m sure I wasn’t any younger than that because of the time frame between that day and going to kindergarten was too short. I remember this morning like it was yesterday. You might ask, what makes this morning so significant? Simply put, because this is the first morning that I suddenly felt aware of my own life, but what’s more notable, it’s the first memory I have ever had I was already past my 3rd birthday. This morning is the first morning I remember, and the first memory I’ve got period, and I was 3 years old at the time. So, my question is what was I doing before that time from birth until age 3? I was finally self-aware.
It was a bright sunny morning. At 3 years old, I got myself up and looked around but one thing was different to me. I didn’t know who I was, where I was, all around me seemed foreign and strange. I got up and slowly walked up to my door and opened it. Looking to the right I could see a young woman and a young girl speaking. I walked down the hallway and up to them listening to their conversation. I had no idea who these people were, but they seemed familiar so I thought I would say something. I said to the young woman, “who are you?” She looked at me a bit puzzled and said, “I’m your mom.”
“My mom,” I said to myself, not quite sure what to make of it.
I then asked the young girl who she was and she said,’ I’m your sister.”
Wow! My mother and sister, I was baffled. Looking back on this day in the present time of 2014, I can’t help but wonder what had prompted my consciousness to suddenly come all at once, overnight? How can I go from having not a recollection of anything at all, to having full consciousness and the desire for knowledge in one night? Who was I before, or what? Was I some sort of robot? How did I get by day to day? And how was it that my brain was suddenly turned on? There’s something else I said after I asked my own mother who she was, I said to my mother, “I want to talk.” like I would really like to talk.
She said, “Ok, what would you like to talk about?’
“I don’t know,” I said. I suppose I hadn’t thought that one through very well, I just knew I really wanted to talk, but why? Later in life I’d heard from my family that I was really quiet, almost never talking. Maybe I said, “I want to talk,” to my mother for all those years that I didn’t talk much at all. But again, what was I doing and who was I before the age of three. It seems I was just floating, like a section of my life is just not there, but I must have had some sort of survival instincts, I mean I could walk out of my room and could also put a sentence together. The basic sense of self which some philosophers call the ability to think and reason and ponder came to me like a strike of lightning. Could having the knowledge that you are alive be something that can just be switched on overnight and at such a seemingly late stage of life to occur? John Locke’s view on this subject is, “A person’s identity extends to whatever of his or her past he or she can remember,’ consequently past experiences, thoughts or actions that the person does not remember are not part of their identity,(The Self as Memory, Kihlstrom, Beer, Klein UC Berkley, UC Santa Barbara) So, according to John Locke, that time from my birth until I was 3 – 4 I just simply had no identity because I have no recollection of that time. Plato said, “The soul includes reason, as well as self-awareness and moral sense the soul includes “self-awareness.” Was Plato saying that before you have self-awareness, such as the time before I was 3, you have no soul?” It seems to follow that is exactly what he meant. I believe the following are important questions to ask on this matter. “Why has consciousness so abruptly manifested at such a late age, and is there something more to it than I just simply had no identity?”. I believe that self-awareness in my life occurred late, as it was around the age of 3 or 4. Some people may not have had the same experience as me, some may have experienced self-awareness earlier or later in life.
I have a few theories as to how this all came about. First, we are physical and what we are surrounded with is physical, the only thing non-physical to us is our thoughts and feelings, and if we take that there is no proof as to why mental consciousness is triggered by using physical clues, or I suspect that route would be very difficult since we know not which day and hour a particular child’s self-awareness may be triggered, and so to me, using a non-physical way of attempting to understand this looks to be a better way. To illustrate my point, I will speak about my own experience. I know that I woke up one morning at 3 years old not knowing who I was or who anyone else was. I did not have a bump on my head so I can rule out physical trauma or amnesia. I will describe my theories on self-awareness as follows: 1 is the theory before my awakening and 2 is my life after. My life before the age of 3 must have been rooted in the natural need for food, water, comfort, things like this. This shows that for natural functions to happen you don’t have to have cognitive thoughts, or self-awareness, they are natural processes that just happen. Even at higher than three years old I was going through life, I was alive but not a cognitive being.
How is it that a natural process like cognitive thought can happen to someone at the later stages of life, 3-4 years old and also why does this happen? Aren’t physical processes a gradual process? But this wasn’t gradual, it was a sudden burst of light, finally giving me some sense, some knowledge of who I was, but was it late? I’ve spoken to many people who say they have memories as far back as 1 year old, some say two, but I have never spoken to someone who has had the same experience as me.
So, since I believe physical processes happen more gradually, I’m throwing out the possibility that it was a physical process that happened to me, I’m thinking it must have been a non-physical process. I will say that the spirit or soul awoke at the time of self-awareness.
The argument for whether or not humans have a soul is one that goes back thousands of years and is still argued today. I would like to now focus on whether or not humans have a soul, does somebody have a soul when they are born, or is it as Plato puts it, that one receives the soul as soon as one becomes self-aware?
I began walking at around age 1, age 2, was fully able to move throughout the house, but for all that at age 2 I was not fully cognizant, that would not come until a year later, age 3 to 4. I do not believe that at this time there wasn’t a soul, which would make the necessity of having self-awareness to have a soul untrue. Instead, maybe all that is required to have a soul is to be alive. My theory on self-awareness is as follows:
Theory of Self-Awareness and the Connection to the Soul.
By Nicholas Michael Evans
Edited by Brittany Lee Marshall
1: Someone is born, they are given a soul from the Heavens or by God/Goddess. They are not self-aware yet because their soul is not awake yet.
2: So even though their spirit is not awake and they are not fully aware, they can still get by day to day because of natural ability.
3: Self-awareness manifests itself when the soul awakens. The time at which the soul awakens is different for each individual person. When the soul awakens, I believe the ability to think, reason, and identify one’s self and the surroundings around them occur.
Note added on 4/24/2015
I should also add that when I said my first sentence at about 3 to 4 years of age, I said a complete sentence, “I want to say something” or “I want to talk” it was something like that. I didn’t say a single word or even a couple of jumbled up sentences not making any sense at all. I said a full, grammatically correct sentence that made sense. This strikes me as unusual because if I had no awareness before of how to make a complete sentence, how did I form a sentence on first try?