A simple observation can convince everyone how ego-consciousness develops and becomes strong in a child. Suppose he knocks his head against the corner of a table. If you observe closely you will find that the feeling of “I” is intensified after such a thing happens. In other words, the child becomes aware of himself, is brought nearer to a knowledge of self.
Of course, it need not always amount to an actual injury or scratch. Even when the child puts his hand on something there is an impact on a small scale that makes him aware of himself. You will have to conclude that a child would never develop ego-consciousness if resistance from the world outside did not make him aware of himself. The fact that there is a world external to himself makes possible the unfolding of ego-consciousness, the consciousness of the “I.” […]
An entity that contacts nothing can have no knowledge of itself, not, at least, in the world in which we live!
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth: III: Man’s Journey Through the Planetary Spheres and the Significance of a Knowledge of Christ – Hanover, November 18, 1912
Translated by Rene Querido