Joined: Oct. 2005
Well surprisingly enough we will have to first establish what we mean by "consciousness". It apears to have no exact definition.
There are quite few papers here. Not all the links work, but there are several woks that do.
I am happy to go-along with Thordaddy's definition of "self-aware", indeed that was the definition I was using.
From my observation, newborns certainly apear to be conscious. The simple fact that they can cry and show signs of discomfort infers consciouness to me. Include the obvious observable distinction of them sleeping and being awake and (to me) consciousness seems conclusive.
From memory I certainly know that I was conscious within a few days of being born. Admitedly I thought in a much different way to now. Presently I tend to think in English. Back then I thought in pictures.
Renier, if a conscious entity has to state it is conscious to be so, then you would probably have to consider animals such as dogs, cats, dolphins etc. as not possesing consciousnes (many people do just that). I would be uncomfortable with such a claim. Lots of creatures show signs of memory and I would think that consciousnes is required before memory can function in a biological entity.
However, those are just my opinions. Science doesn't seem to have a definitive description of consciousness at the moment.