The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"


Expanding on Sigmund Freud's views of child development, in the 1950s the German psychoanalyst Eric Erikson placed emphasis on culture and viewed development as structured in eight stages that extend from birth to death (and not only from birth to late childhood), each stage corresponding to a "task": Infant (in which the task is simply to trust others and the environment), Toddler (in which the task is to to master the physical environment, including learning to walk, talk and eat), Preschooler (in which the task is to imitate adults), School-Age Child (in which the task is to build self-esteem by refining skills), Adolescent (in which the many social roles of son, sibling, student and so forth are integrated mostly through role models and peer pressure), Young Adult (in which personal commitments to friend, lover, spouse, parent and so forth become relevant), Middle-Age Adult (in which the emphasis shifts towards career, family and politics and, in general, being "in charge"), Older Adult (the age of personal loss and intimations of mortality). 

All of these models fail to recognize that there is a stage when we begin to observe the developmental stages of children and to realize that we ourselves went through those stages and are still going through stages. This self-reflective stage is what really makes an adult an adult. We are no longer just the object of development: we are a subject that observes younger people's development and wonders about older people's development.

Also, throughout these stages there is an evolution from absorbing culture to spreading culture. Adolescence is the tipping point when spreading culture becomes as important as absorbing culture. Later in life one is much more involved in spreading culture (e.g., raising children or training others) than in absorbing culture.


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