A funny thing happened when I looked in my bathroom mirror. I saw my reflection, of course, but having had a discussion about free will the other day with some coffee-shop friends I was primed to look more closely. Did I have free will enough to influence that other person in the mirror? “Very few species have passed the Mirror Self Recognition (MSR) test.
“As of 2016, only great apes (including humans), a single Asiatic elephant, dolphins, orcas, the Eurasian magpie, and ants have passed the MSR test. A wide range of species has been reported to fail the test, including several monkey species, giant pandas, sea lions, and dogs.”
I am generally aware of the mirror research on animals where they place a conspicuous spot on their forehead and then observe how they respond to the mirror reflection of themselves with the spot. Do they look more closely and try to rub the spot to see if it will come off? There is a surprisingly large amount of research on this reported at Wikipedia under Animal consciousness.
I did a little mirror game where I tried to see how many levels of self-recognition I could see of myself when looking into the mirror. I soon discovered that when I spoke out loud and played a little game with my face it appeared to me that I could see deeper into my self-awareness. It was by playing these games that I stimulated my vocal awareness and my physical awareness and these combined to help me see more levels. The only way to get much out of this idea is to try it yourself with your mirror.
Look at your face in the mirror. If you are normal you will instantly recognize your face. Now, squint your right eye, and project your mind over into the reflection and look back at your physical self. You will perceive a person squinting at you. Now, as that person say, “I’m looking at you looking at me.” Then say, “I can control you by opening my eye at my choosing to do so.” Thus, “I have the more free will than you in the mirror has because I can control you but you can’t control me.” But, “I recognize that there is an image out there who looks like me, and he is looking at me.”
“I am looking at you, looking at me, looking back at you.” But, now I choose to smile at the mirror, and it immediately responds by smiling back. Is this a happy coincidence, or am I controlling the person in the mirror? I can say, “I’m looking at you, looking at me, and squinting your right eye, and I smile at this squinting, and you smile back.” It appears that we are in some sort of communication. So, to test this theory, I squint my other eye, and sure enough, my reflection squints its other eye. We are in communication! Uh …
“I’m looking at you, looking at me squinting at me, so I smile at the absurdity of it, and so do you, so just to make sure we are on the same friendly relationship I squint the other eye and you respond. I have a new friend.”
How many layers can you go into that kind of play with your reflection and maintain the feeling that you are relating to something that is relating to you?