At birth the "self" is a biological bundle of "physical processes" and "flailing action" with an automatic awareness that is one with the Universe.
One with the Universe means there is no differentiation (yet) on the part of the new human organism between itself and the things it is aware of.
Developmentally, the self is an unfolding action story pre-told by yesterday's differentiations and integrations.
These are the beginnings of the "thinking self".
Developmentally, the self is an unfolding action story pre-told by yesterday's differentiations and integrations and thoughts.
These are the beginnings of the non-flailing "acting self".
Developmentally --somewhere around 18 months old-- the action story continues as the self reaches its first major plateau and forms an embryonic ego which is the unit thing within that is the seat of the self functions we call thinking, judging, feeling.
These are the beginnings of the growing, reaching, aspiring, thinking, feeling, acting Self.
Developmentally --somewhere around 24 months-- the action story continues as the self reaches its first plateau and discovers explicitly the exhiliration of control over some things in its awareness. It doesn't yet know what a cliche is but he or she is by nature automatically helping to perpetuate the one about the terrible two's and their: "mother please, I'd rather do it my self" attitude.
Since there is a growing urgency for the self to be able to take care of itself it needs a means of knowing what things mean to it.
And, Voila! Like the unfolding, emerging pedals of a flower nature provides the self with its capacity to form emotions.
This is the beginning of the emotional self and the continuations of the thinking-feeling-acting self.
It is also the beginning of a new twist in an "old" relationship between the self and nature.
Nature unfolds (or unpacks as it were) the self's capacities for the self and then the self has to proceed ahead and learn HOW to use them. That is, the self has to start the process of learning how to live consciously, which is to say, the self has to learn how to use its innate capacities to satisfy its innate needs.
Developmentally, the self's successes and failures at doing this are tallied up and the total is presented to the conscious mind as either a "yes" or a "no" answer to one question.
And that question is:
Am I happy?.
My speculation is that the very first time this question is "asked" (implicitly) and answered (implicitly) is at or about 5 years old.
From here on in this question joins in with the other two (implicit) questions at the core of our being and become the natural source of our drive for (moral) perfection.
So that, developmentally the 3 core questions are set and our individual lives become our own personal idiosyncratic answers to them.
The three questions are:
- Where am I?
- Is it worth it?
- Am I happy?
We are our answers to these (and other) fundamental questions.
The EndThe Beginning