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Why Me?
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Book description

This book explores the evolution of the mental competence for self-reflection: why it evolved, under what selection pressures, in what environments, out of what precursors, and with what mental resources. Integrating evolutionary, psychological, and philosophical perspectives, Radu J. Bogdan argues that the competence for self-reflection, uniquely human and initially autobiographical, evolved under strong and persistent sociocultural and political (collaborative and competitive) pressures on the developing minds of older children and later adults. Self-reflection originated in a basic propensity of the human brain to rehearse anticipatively mental states, speech acts, actions, and states of the world in order to service one's elaborate goal policies. These goal policies integrate offline representations of one's own mental states and actions and those of others in order to handle the challenges of a complex and dynamic sociopolitical and sociocultural life, calling for an adaptive intramental self-regulation: that intramental adaptation is self-reflection.


‘This is an articulate, thoughtful, and scientifically informed treatise about humans’ unique self-reflective capabilities. It examines the ontogenetic and phylogenetic emergence of self-reflection, taking an explicit developmental evolution approach, which is much needed and timely to the field.’

David F. Bjorklund - Professor of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University, USA, and Vice President, Evolution Institute

‘In his attractively written book, Radu Bogdan shows how the capacity for self-reflection and self-criticism has been key to humans’ evolutionary success. It’s a persuasively argued and original thesis.’

Nicholas Humphrey - Emeritus Professor of Psychology, London School of Economics, and Visiting Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, UK

‘Radu Bogdan puts his finger on the central question about the human mind: the capacity for self-conscious reflection on one’s own mental processes. His evolutionary account provides a worthy alternative to Descartes’ belief that the mind is transparent to itself and the behavioralist view that denies self-consciousness altogether.’

David Olson - Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Toronto, Canada

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  • 1 - Framing the Issue
    pp 9-24


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