The moment we humans gained Introspection, self-contemplation, soul-searching, was really our Eden.
Did it happen all at once, or did it—like the rest of our bodies–evolve? If introspection evolved, why can’t we see it evolving in other animals? Koko the gorilla was our one emissary from the world of higher primates. She could recognize herself in a mirror and she even realized that her features matched those of gorillas shown to her in picture books. She once said, in sign language, after looking away from the mirror, “Handsome gorilla.”
But did Koko ever sign,”Why am I here?” or “Am I going to die like my kitten”? (which, sadly, was struck by a car.) Was Koko introspective? Did Koko notice the firmament above her home in the Palo Alto hills? I don’t think she did.
Introspection, and our pondering our relationship with the stars, makes us human. “Sentient,” merely means, feeling, thinking. Most multi-celled “animals” are sentient. Only humans are introspective, and we seem to have come by this defining quality all at once. Was it a gift from a higher power? If so, it’s reasonable to assume that other beings on other planets, orbiting some of the trillions of stars in trillions of galaxies, have been given it as well. Are they to be considered “human”? Native American folklore calls these hypothetical creatures, Star Brothers. Will we someday meet our Star Brothers?