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The Origins of Self

An Anthropological Perspective

The Origins of Self explores the role selfhood plays in defining both human society and each individual in that society. It considers the genetic and cultural origins of self, the role that self plays in socialization and language, and the types of selves we generate in our individual journeys to and through adulthood. Martin P. J. Edwardes argues that other-awareness is a relatively early evolutionary development, present throughout the primate clade and perhaps beyond, but self-awareness is a product of the sharing of social models, something only humans appear to do. The self of which we are aware is not something innate within us, it is a model of our self produced as a response to the models of us offered to us by other people. Edwardes proposes that human construction of selfhood involves seven different types of self. All but one of them are internally generated models, and the only nonmodel, the actual self, is completely hidden from conscious awareness. We rely on others to tell us about our self, and even to let us know we are a self. Developed in relation to a range of subject areas—linguistics, anthropology, genomics, and cognition, as well as sociocultural theory—The Origins of Self is of particular interest to students and researchers studying the origins of language, human origins in general, and the cognitive differences between human and other animal psychologies.

248 pages | 5 halftones | 6.14 x 9.21 | © 2019

Free digital open access editions are available to download from UCL Press.

Language and Linguistics: General Language and Linguistics

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Down the Rabbit-hole
1. What Is a Self?
2. Where Did Self Come From?
3. The Modelled Self
4. How Do We Become Selves?
5. Where Did Social Calculus Come From?
6. The Language of Self
7. Metaphors of Self
8. What Is a Self? There and Back Again
9. Epilogue: Snarks or Boojums?

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