No, it is not a philosophical essay; it is an answer from neurobiological research to the philosophical question that V S Ramachandran attempts in the Edge 10th Anniversary essay; here is the summary of his answer in his own words:
I suggest that “other awareness” may have evolved first and then counterintuitively, as often happens in evolution, the same ability was exploited to model ones own mind — what one calls self awareness. I will also suggest that a specific system of neurons called mirror neurons are involved in this ability. Finally I discuss some clinical examples to illustrate these ideas and make some testable predictions.
However, Ramachandran agrees that the final word has not yet been pronounced. In fact,
Have we solved the problem of self? Obviously not — we have barely scratched the surface. But hopefully we have paved the way for future models and empirical studies on the nature of self, a problem that philosophers have made essentially no headway in solving. (And not for want of effort — they have been at it for three thousand years). Hence our grounds for optimism about the future of brain research — especially for solving what is arguably Science’s greatest riddle.
Take a look!
Hat Tip: Swarup