During my train of thoughts pondering the question, ‘What is the mental trait that makes us humans?’, I stumbled upon some insights which I have elaborated in the article, Sophisticated Time-Awareness: The Human Spark? The full article can be found here and a non-technical version can be found here.
In a nutshell, I am making the following claims:-
- Sophisticated Time-Awareness (STA) is the cognitive trait that makes humans unique.
- STA can explain various human traits such as composite tool-making, logical thought, language, notion of causation, mental time travel, episodic memory, delayed gratification, self-awareness, consciousness, religion, music, art and humour.
- STA probably appeared as a by-product of mental rules that evolved for multi-part tool-making and/or language.
- STA is the cognitive trait responsible for the fairly abrupt transition from anatomically modern to behaviourally modern humans about 50,000-40,000 years ago.
- STA is probably mediated by a specialised network of neurons in the high-level centres of human brain – ‘time neurons’.
I like to name my hypothesis, the STA hypothesis. I am acutely aware that my claims may appear audacious. But I have strictly adhered to the tenets of logic and reason while formulating the above hypothesis. I have even critiqued it, which can be found in the full article. I feel my hypothesis stands to be disproved. Any logical and constructive criticism is very welcome.
Einstein famously said:
The grand aim of all science is the cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms.
My humble aspiration is that the STA hypothesis fulfils that aim.