(short description)

Added quality/mechanism added to the lower level

Purpose/function performed for the higher level

Description of subjects1


Meta―consciousness II

I know that others also know and judge

Ability to construct mental representations of other actors’ mental states (thoughts, judgements) and to assume their perspective (understand their intentions, state of knowledge, feelings)

Widely understood social relations. An individual capable of perspective taking, successfully regulates his social relations, fit to enter social contracts, predict how others will behave in changeable conditions.

Those healthy adults who achieve fullness of mental development. It seems that attaining this level requires strong cultural training, rich vocabulary, fluency in verbalizing feelings and psychological states.


Meta―consciousness I

I know that others feel, want, (dis) like, stick “with” or fight other members of the group

Ability to read emotions, what another individual knows (sees), others’ attitudes towards the subject and other interaction partners. Ability to personally recognize individual interaction partners.

Relations within a small2 social group. Building alliances within the group. Coherent in-group relations, maintaining group identity with regard to other group.

The majority of human population, including schoolchildren. Some primates and cetaceans, elephants, some corvids and parrots.



I know that I exist and that there is a boundary between me (my body, mind) and the environment

Ability to read one’s own feelings and thoughts. Experiencing oneself, one’s body and mind as separate from the rest of the reality. Establishing a representation of “Self” fairly stable temporally and situationally

Basic aspects of regulating behavior towards others within a community and in interspecies relations.

Majority of human population, including children under 3 years of age. Significant proportion of primates, cateceans, carnivorans, corvids and parrots. Possibly a large number of animals so far not assessed in this respect.


Sensory-affective awareness

I know that I can feel and that sensations are aversive or pleasant

Ability to experience pain and emotions. Memorizing emotions (generation of acquired drives)

Basic mechanism for regulating organism’s behaviour towards external events and objects by assigning them affective meaning (sign). Avoidance of aversive events and desiring events arousing pleasant sensations.

All vertebrates that have evolved structures responsible for emotional responses (e.g. amygdala), starting from fish.


Sensory awareness

I know that I sense

Ability to experience sensory stimuli perception

Basic mechanism for regulating organism’s behavior with respect to external events and objects through locating source of stimulus.

All vertebrates with mesencephalon (midbrain), which is the centre for sensory integration in ancient vertebrates.


Nonconsciousness (nonconscious sensation)

I sense, but I do not know that I sense

Ability to experience sensory stimuli and respond to them

Adaptive automatisms (taxes, tropisms).

All animals equipped with nervous system and sensory organs