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I have seen the terms self-aware and self-conscious being used interchangeably in discussions of what distinguishes a person from a conscious animal. Is there a difference of meaning between them?

I had previously thought the term self-conscious was used only to only to denote a feeling of being acutely aware of oneself in social situations, so I have always preferred using the term self-aware, as Singer does, to indicate the ability to consider oneself as a conscious individual human, existing in time.

But is there a separate, philosophical meaning to self-conscious that is different from self-aware?


EDIT - 2021 03 13 - I have accepted @Conifold's suggestion that the linked question provides an answer, but only to the extent that the answer is "No, there is no widely accepted distinction between these terms and their meanings depend heavily on context".

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  • There has to be a spectrum, as the self-model gets progressively more complex. I'd say don't rely on specific words or phrases to be unambiguous, but try to specify what is meant contextually, or behaviourally, or structurally, and try to lead others to do the same. Human development markers, and things like the mirror-test, can help us be more specific. And increasingly, neuroscience, and scanning brains as they operate. – CriglCragl Mar 12 at 19:51
  • Thanks @Conifold for the link - very interesting - and see my next comment too. – JohnRC Mar 13 at 12:02
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    Thanks @CriglCragl - These terms seem to be used variously to have different (or the same) meanings depending on the specific context - often without being well-defined first..So there isn't really any widely-accepted distinction. I guess, as you say, we just have to be careful we understand how they are being used in any particular text, and be consistent in our own usage. – JohnRC Mar 13 at 12:03
  • I don't think there's much difference formally, though to me "awareness" leans slightly more towards perception and the empirical side of consciousness. In the social context to be "self-aware" may imply a more confident posture than feeling "self-conscious." – Nelson Alexander Mar 13 at 19:33

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