Newsletter of Phenomenology

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Self-conscious roots of human normativity

Philippe Rochat

pp. 741-753

What are the roots of human normativity and when do children begin to behave according to standards and norms? Empirical observations demonstrate that we are born with built-in (implicit and automatic) orientation toward what is predictable and of the same - henceforth what deviates from it -, what is the norm or the standard in the generic sense of the word. However, what develop in humans is self-consciousness, transforming norms from "should" to "ought" and making human normativity profoundly different from any other forms expressed in infancy, other animals, or any smart machines. Self-consciousness is the ability to objectify oneself through the evaluative eyes of others. It sets us apart as a species and is at the roots of human normativity. A developmental blueprint capturing the progressive co-emergence of self-consciousness and normativity in the human child is proposed.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-015-9427-x

Full citation:

Rochat, P. (2015). Self-conscious roots of human normativity. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14 (4), pp. 741-753.

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