[[ read online ]] Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory RevisitedAuthor Marcel Kuijsten – Memovende.co

Why Are Gods And Idols Ubiquitous Throughout The Ancient World What Is The Relationship Of Consciousness And Language How Is It That Oracles Came To Influence Entire Nations Such As Greece If Consciousness Arose Far Back In Human Evolution, How Can It So Easily Be Altered In Hypnosis And Possession Is Modern Schizophrenia A Vestige Of An Earlier Mentality These Are Just Some Of The Difficult Questions Addressed By Julian Jaynes S Influential And Controversial Theory Of The Origin Of Subjective Consciousness Or The Modern Mind This Book Includes An In Depth Biography Of Julian Jaynes, Essays By Jaynes, And The Discussion And Analysis Of Jaynes S Theory From A Variety Of Perspectives Such As Clinical Psychology, Philosophy, Neuroscience, Anthropology, Linguistics, And Ancient HistoryWith Chapters By Dr Julian Jaynes, Dr Michael Carr, Prof Scott Greer, Dr John Hamilton, Marcel Kuijsten, Prof John Limber, Prof Brian McVeigh, Prof David Stove, June Tower, Prof William Woodward, And A Foreword By Prof Michael Persinger

10 thoughts on “Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited

  1. says:

    This and Jaynes The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind are two of my favorite books Jaynes theory is perhaps the most important, and certainly the most original, since Darwin s theory of evolution This book expands on Jaynes ideas and I enjoyed the broad range of perspectives Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness will have you rethinking your ideas on a wide range of topics from the history of the mind, to the origin of mental illness and the origin of religion.The book starts out with an interesting Foreword by the neuroscientist Michael Persinger, who has done related research on the right temporal lobe, followed by a nice Introduction by the editor of the volume Chapter 1 is an in depth biography of Julian Jaynes, which contains a great deal of information about Jaynes that I was previously unfamiliar with There are four chapters by Jaynes himself little know essays on Egypt, ancient China, the voices of William Blake, and a longer chapter on Jaynes s own continuing research into the prevalence of auditory hallucinations in society John Hamilton discusses bicameral like auditory hallucinations in a group of quadriplegics, further supporting the idea that they are common than was previously known Marcel Kuijsten s chapter provides an update on all of the new research that has emerged since the publication of Jaynes s book that further supports the theory Psychologist John Limber provides an interesting discussion of the relationship between language and consciousness, an idea still hotly debated and central to Jaynes s theory The anthropologist Brian McVeigh discusses hypnosis and spirit possession in Jaynesian terms and makes a strong case for the idea that the self is a social construction The psychologist Scott Greer describes the possible influence of Aristotle on Jaynes s thinking In one of my favorite chapters, the philosopher David Stove describes how Jaynes s theory is the best he s come across in terms of explaining the origin of religion In a chapter titled Greek Zombies, the philosopher Jan Sleutels, a brilliant critical thinker, methodically breaks down the criticisms of Jaynes s theory by the philosopher Ned Block, showing how Block s arguments don t hold up under close scrutiny This chapter in my view was long overdue, as unfortunately Jaynes did not seem to spend much time countering the arguments against his theory Finally, Michael Carr describes the fascinating evidence for bicameralism in ancient China.

  2. says:

    An excellent book big picture history of science, philosophy, neuroscience, archeology, cross cultural anthropology, the nature of discovery, evolution, consciousness, and critical thinking I highly recommend it both for those already familiar with Jaynes as well as readers that are new to his theory I first read Jaynes book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, about 10 years ago Jaynes puts forth the theory that consciousness as he carefully defines it does not extend far back into human evolution, but is a recent development in ancient history Jaynes argues that consciousness, which he roughly defines as introspectable mind space is not a product of biological evolution but a learned process based in part on language development and writing According to Jaynes, prior to the development of consciousness, humans functioned in a different mental mode called the bicameral mind The vestiges of this previous way of thinking have profound implications for modern society Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness contains chapters by professors and scholars from a variety of disciplines Not only does the book offer insights into Jaynes theory from various fields of study, it also demonstrates how relevant Jaynes theory is to a broad range of disciplines The contributors to this book provide new evidence and discussion both supporting and expanding on Jaynes important ideas The information contained in Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness should help to reignite the debate about Jaynes theory I found Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness to be a long overdue, intensely thought provoking and valuable contribution to the study of Jaynes theory Thankfully, Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness is highly substantive and not dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, as so many science books geared toward a non academic audience tend to be these days Given the fact that Jaynes theory remains somewhat controversial, I think it is especially important that any new book on the theory be as well researched and well documented as this one is If you like to be challenged by new ideas, you read at a college level, and are at all interested in Jaynes theory or would like to learn about it , you will find much of interest in this thought provoking book I couldn t put it down and plan to read it again.

  3. says:

    This isn t a sequel to, but a book about, The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes, published by the Julian Jaynes Society and consisting of essays some by Jaynes himself , and a short biography Contrary to what some reviewers have written, if you were to read this one first I think it would give you a half decent overview of Jaynes theory of consciousness What you won t get though is any idea of how well written the original is there s some fairly turgid stuff in this one The exception is an essay which sticks out a mile from the rest The Oracles and their Cessation by David Stove, about the origin and existence of religion, is written in a style so lively and clear it s worth borrowing the book just to read it.

  4. says:

    Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness explains, extends, and expands many of Julian Jaynes s most provocative ideas For readers who finished The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind and wondered What comes next , this collection provides answers Gathering together both additional writings by Jaynes himself, along with thoughtful essays by scholars from a wide range of disciplines, the book both explores ways in which Jaynes s thought can be applied in specific fields of study and serves as a testimony to the centrality of the issue of consciousness to all fields of intellectual endeavor This worthy sequel to Jaynes s original book has been a long time coming, but the wait has been worth it

  5. says:

    As the full title, Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness Julian Jaynes s Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited, intimates, before beginning this book some prior reading, namely Julian Jaynes, is advisable if not precisely necessary Jaynes was a gifted and sincere academic who distrusted the strictures institutions place on human thought In keeping with this attitude, he crafted his referenced opus by accessing a half dozen academic disciplines and paying little professional attention to the reception his theories might receive Jaynes, exceedingly rare among academics, wrote what he thought and not simply what he thought would bring him professional success which, incidentally, he eschewed in favor of pursuing the studies he wished to pursue, as opposed to the studies that would secure his career he taught at Harvard, but never pursued tenure He was a unique man who developed a unique theory worth revisiting You can read a dozen people summarize Jaynes ideas about consciousness and his bicameral mind theory, but nothing replaces reading Jaynes himself Not only is he a clear and engaging writer, but it helps to read his own lucid and unfailingly sane authorial voice in order to take seriously his ideas that many consider out there In 1976, Julian Jaynes published the strange and daring The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind In this work, Jaynes blends historical, linguistic, literary, neurological and psychological research in order to propose his unique theory of human consciousness I find the preponderance of Jaynes evidence in support of his thesis or, appropriately, theses compelling, but cannot recreate his wealth of evidence here Rather, I will sketch his arguments To believe or to intelligently disbelieve his arguments, one really needs to read this book for oneself As elucidated broadly by Marcel Kuijsten and only reordered slightly by me, Jaynes theories can be separated into four main hypotheses which may stand or less alone 1 Consciousness Based on Language 2 The Dating of Consciousness 3 The Bicameral Mind Theory and 4 Jaynes Neurological Model I will use these same categories in discussing Jaynes theories 1 Consciousness Based on LanguageJaynes argues that consciousness is a linguistic space created by metaphorical language in which a person introspects upon an analog I In other words, consciousness pertains only to the act of regarding one s interiorized self via introspection For Jaynes consciousness is a linguistic game, one centered around the metaphorical selves we create in order to evaluate hypothetical situations without having to act in real world situations Much cognition we habitually attribute to consciousness actually occurs outside of consciousness by Jaynes definition He believes that learning and even reasoning do not necessarily involve consciousness He provides many examples of activities we generally assume require consciousness bike riding, piano playing, etc , but establishes that, in fact, consciousness often hinders performance of these complex tasks He observes that mindstate vocabulary and other words used to describe interior mental states actually derive from real physical world vocabulary and are only applied metaphorically to mental states E.g., To see, to grasp, and to apprehend all refer initially to actions we take in the physical world with our bodies They only metaphorically refer to mental activity or precisely, to our subjective introspected experience of some portion of our mental activity Now, this idea of consciousness as a linguistic metaphor, or metaphorical activity, is difficult enough for many to accept As experiencers of consciousness, we use it to mediate all aspects of our relationship to the physical world It seems so natural and ubiquitous that we usually categorize consciousness alongside capacities like our senses of sight or smell things hardwired into our biology Neurobiologists seek consciousness by studying the brain Jaynes himself began looking for signs of consciousness by studying animal behavior before he alit on the idea that consciouness had to do with language than it did with physiology or cognition To accept Jaynes idea of consciousness as a metaphorically crafted mindspace, we must also accept that the seat of our very sense of self is a cultural adaptation and not innate to us We are taught consciousness and achieve this weird feat only through recourse to our highly complex language systems That is, consciousness is cultural 2 The Dating of ConsciousnessJaynes argues that consciousness developed only 3,000 to 2,500 years ago He arrived at this general timeframe by studying a variety of classical period writings and religious practices As an armchair student of history familiar with the literature and practices he mentions, I found this portion of his argument most compelling I guess biologists have a hard time believing such sweeping behavioral change could have occurred among biologically modern humans so recently, but again, if consciousness is cultural and not physiological, this shift would not seem quite so unbelievably drastic Moreover, if the development of consciousness did occur when Jaynes says it did, many religious practices and changes in literature would be instantly explained But why religious practices Well, the answer to that question leads to the final pill so many cannot swallow with regard to Jaynes theory, namely the mindstate which Jaynes asserts predated consciousness 3 The Bicameral Mind TheoryJaynes argues that prior to consciousness, human beings inhabited a bicameral mindstate Instead of using consciousness to introspect during stressful situations and, in this metaphorical mindspace, to decide what action to take, bicameral human beings solved problems and performed other types of cognition without consciousness of doing so Their decisions and solutions issued from the brain s right hemisphere in a manner experienced by the left hemisphere as auditory hallucinations Bicameral men and women interpreted these voices as those of gods and ancestors telling them what to do They obeyed the voices without question In strictly hierarchical societies like Homeric Greece, each individual s voices did not likely conflict with any other s Authority was obvious and agreed upon think of an ant colony Interestingly, even in modern, conscious humans who experience auditory hallucinations, hallucinated voices are usually hortatory, difficult to disobey and are often interpreted as belonging to authority figures, dead relatives or to god If auditory hallucinations tend to take this form in humans, little wonder bicameral people would tend to hear the same voices as one another, tend to attribute them to the same authority figures and, in essence, to create religion 4 Jaynes Neurological ModelIn 1976, neuroscience was a young field and Jaynes had only a few studies with which to work My understanding of neurology and the brain is much weaker than my understanding of language or history, so I will not attempt to explain his thoughts However, in the last 30 years, according to Kuijsten and several of the other authors in Reflections, neurological research has tended to support Jaynes predictions about how the two hemispheres of the brain work and interact, such that the brain could function bicamerally, i.e., could create the hallucinated voices he postulated in The Origin of Consciousness In general, Reflections offers much to bolster support for Jaynes The contributing authors come from a variety of fields, study vastly different topics, and some only adopt Jaynes theories in part, but each and every one finds something inspiring if not rather nagging in his research something that will not leave them alone with regard to their own studies They must contend with Jaynes John Hamilton explores the experience of auditory hallucinations among quadriplegics who cannot speak He supports Jaynes hypothesis concerning how hallucinations function He also supports Jaynes belief that a broader section of humans experience auditory hallucinations than was previously thought Jan Sleutels logically dissects counter arguments to Jaynes bicameral mind theory to demonstrate that it is possible This sounds small, but so many scholars will not even do Jaynes the respect of properly grappling with his theories Brian J McVeigh evaluates what Jaynsean theory can say about problems of the self, volition and agency Michael Carr examines Chinese paleography of specific words relating to an ancient religious ritual and finds that changes in the words and ritual, over time, corroborate not only bicamerality itself, but the dating of Jaynes bicameral consciousness shift Reflections, like The Origin of Consciousness, makes for intensely fascinating reading However, many questions remain unanswered If related to language and writing, how exactly did the bicameral consciousness shift occur What risk do we run of dehumanizing those who do not share our mindstate if ancient people truly behaved like ants or automata or, conversely, how can we use this knowledge to expand our idea of what it means to be human What is the connection between the shift to consciousness and written language for Jaynes asserts there is one If consciousness is cultural and the shift to it from bicamerality only gradual, as Jaynes describes, are there not still bicameral or partially bicameral peoples living today say, any group that did not develop a written language, an uncontacted tribe in the or elsewhere And this seems to me the most important concern that, if bicamerality really existed and still exists , we must fight our very human urge to hierarchize stages of human development such that bicamerality falls unfailingly beneath consciousness on a progressive ladder of mindstates, in much the same way some misunderstand evolution to represent progress as opposed to adaptive change Jaynes places no such valuations on these mindstates, but many of his detractors treat his theories as though prejudice and a sense of superiority inhere in them I believe they are criticizing what they bring to the table rather than what Jaynes does They presume consciousness has been some great gift to humanity and is clearly a superior state of being I, for one, am not so convinced Although if placed side by side and read with some credulity, it is hard not to feel as though Julian Jaynes were explaining to you the most intractable mysteries of human history in one fell swoop This is partially why he is so compelling if he is even half correct, so many various and sundry historical questions are answered These are Kuijsten s section headings in his essay contribution to Reflections, Consciousness, Hallucinations and the Bicameral Mind Three Decades of New Research Which vestigal evidence of bicamerality one would expect if it were a mindstate persisting up until a couple of thousand years ago.

  6. says:

    quite disappointing, actually, compared to the original Jaynes text THE DAWN OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE BREAKDOWN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND if you re not a Jaynes fan, this will be tough, sluggish going it s mostly recap and while the glimmers and gleamings of various tech and philosophic writings grant a lot of credibility to Jayne s ideas almost 30 years after their initial and oft controversial debuts, REFLECTIONS ON THE DAWN OF CONSCIOUSNESS is actually, well less reflective and like a distillation, a compendium, a companion volume.and a poorer cousin down the literary roads it remains, alas i credit the Julian Jaynes Foundation for attempting to keep Jaynes alive and his theories impact fresh from showing how brain scan technologies have largely validated much of what Jayne s argued in the left vs right brain field, to the less satisfying concluding chapter that shows how ancient chinese pre conscious societies buried their dead but kept them eternally alive through visitation hallucination rituals that eventually like bicameral mind itself broke down into consciousness, REFLECTIONS does offer some good tidbits for we die hard fans.but what s needed is a next leap level in the Jaynes school of thought, not collected short works that merely empiracally echo his initial cosmic bang of an idea it s not that these works aren t valuable they are but they don t transcend the left brain approach they re overall dry, pendantic, and feel as trapped in academia as the very constrictive voices Jaynes rebelled against while imprisoned in those Hallowed Halls and fought tenure, PhD requirements, etc., himself.if there were an Arthur Clarke or someone of equally passionate yet clearer voice who could come along, eloquently expand not echo, Jayne s now silent voice then bicameral theory would be much closer to bicameral fact.still, if you re into Jaynes, this is a must read, if only because so little else is ever published about this often misunderstood genius who will imho be remembered as a giant by future generations while we believed the world was still flat at least the worlds of the inner minds and that plural for minds is deliberate.but i d swap this for a well read but intact copy of Jayne s original tome mine was lost in my recent move and i miss it.

  7. says:

    Having read Dawn of Consciousness in the 70s, I have spent 40 years wondering whether Jaynes was a crackpot Mary Baker Eddy , or a dismissed genius Galileo.Frequently, when we read masterpieces in fields not our own, we are tortured by suspicion are we overlooking the obvious clues this is a gigantic fraud Or is it a wonderwork Or is it both This collection of essays takes the wonderwork position It s a one sided review, so we should take care in reaching grand conclusions about Jaynes after reading the two books But it s a gratifying support of Jaynes key hypotheses.As you can tell, I m a babe in the woods on Jaynes I wondered many times during the intervening years What ever happened to Jaynes Where is the sequel This tome answers those questions.I m still unsure whether Jaynes theory is anything but Where are the MRI studies The inter species comparisons We need much on the links between speech, writing, and consciousnessBut it was a fun, diverting, and nostalgic return to a fascinating tour de force.

  8. says:

    Mostly fascinating but occasionally a little scattershot 30 years on followup to Julian Jaynes work This is a great check in, especially if, while you were reading The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, you were wondering about what neuroscience and recent cultural anthropological research might have revealed Turns out there s still plenty to think about and good chunks of Jaynes big idea still in play.

  9. says:

    6 10A mixed bag of essays which doesn t stand well on its own and can not touch the heights of the original Julian Jaynes s Origin of Consciousness.

  10. says:

    one of the most interesting books i ve ever opened a book for both sides of the brain