[ Free Best ] The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral MindAuthor Julian Jaynes – Memovende.co

At The Heart Of This Classic, Seminal Book Is Julian Jaynes S Still Controversial Thesis That Human Consciousness Did Not Begin Far Back In Animal Evolution But Instead Is A Learned Process That Came About Only Three Thousand Years Ago And Is Still Developing The Implications Of This Revolutionary Scientific Paradigm Extend Into Virtually Every Aspect Of Our Psychology, Our History And Culture, Our Religion And Indeed Our Future

10 thoughts on “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

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    I am giving Julian Jaynes The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind The Origin four stars not because I ve become a devoted follower of his theory I haven t but because it reflects exactly how I feel about it I really liked it Jaynes writes in such a commanding manner that you re helplessly swept along to the end at which point, you can finally catch your breath and begin to assess what s just happened Once he s determined the correctness of his hypothesis to his own satisfaction, there are no wishy washy cavils or cowardly hedging And along the way, Jaynes calls into question everything you thought you knew about humans, consciousness and history Don t relegate Jaynes to the crackpot shelf of your library along with Zechariah Sitchin, Erich von Daniken, Graham Masterson and others of their ilk Jaynes grounds his claims in actual psychology, literature, archaeology and history As such, you have to take his assertions seriously even if you ultimately reject them The author s hypothesis can be summed up thusly 1 Prior to the second millennium BC, humans were not conscious by and large.2 The right hemisphere of the brain was dominant and directed humans via auditory and visual hallucinations that became the gods and God that appear in ancient literature.3 This condition Jaynes calls the Bicameral Mind BM vs the Conscious Mind CM.4 The first chink in the BM came with the advent of language, when it became theoretically possible to construct an internal dialog and an analog I 5 The final nails in the BM s coffin were the invention of writing and the increasing complexity of urban civilization, which proved too much for the BM to cope with.6 Consequently, the CM is a product of acculturation, not an emergent property of the brain.7 The first stirrings of the CM came in the 2nd millennium BC and by the 1st millennium, it had become the dominant hemisphere of the brain.8 The BM remains with us but in modern society is found only with schizophrenics and under special conditions such as hypnosis, deep meditation or religious frenzy.In the early 70s, when Jaynes wrote, such an assertion found little empirical support but in light of modern research in language, evolution, archaeology and brain studies, it doesn t seem as far fetched I don t believe in Jaynes stark demarcation between the BM and CM but having read works like Before the Dawn Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors, Inside the Neolithic Mind Consciousness Cosmos and the Realm of the Gods, The Singing Neanderthals The Origins of Music Language Mind and Body and soon The 10 000 Year Explosion How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, it s clear that human evolution is ongoing and can be found in surprisingly recent events That pre language humans processed thought differently seems unassailable Equally certain is that evolution works with the material at hand it could easily be the case that the BM or some neurological process that was not consciousness remained dominant for a long time because the human environment didn t select for consciousness until we began living markedly different lifestyles from our origins On the other hand, consciousness of a sort may have been the edge modern humans needed to crowd out their hominid competitors most famously the Neanderthal which would push Jaynes CM back a few millennia If there is a solution to the question, it remains elusive pending further evidence for how the brain works.Like Caesar s Gaul, The Origin is divided into three parts Part I is a bit of a slog as the author goes over current as of the mid 1970s research on brain functions and the nature of consciousness It moves along well enough but can be tough going for those unfamiliar with the subject, despite Jaynes generally lucid and reader friendly prose.Chapter 1 surveys theories about the origins of the CM 1 It s a property of matter 2 it s a property of protoplasm all organisms are conscious to a degree 3 consciousness as learning it s present when an organism can learn from experience 4 it s a metaphysical imposition today, Creationism and ID would fall under this category 5 the helpless spectator theory 6 emergent evolution the CM emerges when brain development reaches a certain critical mass 7 behaviorism, which denies consciousness altogether and 8 consciousness arises from the firing of axions and dendrites, i.e., it s a function of the nervous system I tend to fall into camps 2 and 6 but Jaynes dismisses them all as inadequate and contends that its possible indeed, it was our condition to conceive of humans with all the traits of learning, reason, language, etc., but no consciousness In Chapter 2, Jaynes sets out the features of the CM 1 Spatialization objects of conscious thought are placed in a mind space 2 excerption we think of particulars, not wholes 3 the analog I 4 the metaphor me 5 narratization the CM arranges facts into a story and 6 conciliation bringing narratives together into compatible schemata As he writes Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the real world It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical world Its reality is of the same order as mathematics p 55.Jaynes briefly looks at The Iliad, which will be dissected in detail in Part II, in Chapter 3 He considers it the first piece of writing that we have full confidence in translating, and which is a clear example of the transition from the BM to the CM.Chapter 4 explains how the BM s hallucinations worked Essentially they were produced whenever a decision point was reached, a novel experience that couldn t be handled unconsciously The mind obeys the voices because there s no conscious distance between audition and volition a similar phenomenon is found in hypnosis subjects and schizophrenics.In Chapter 5, Jaynes presents his evidence for why humans functioning solely with BMs could function and conceive complex civilizations As well, he argues that the right hemisphere functions of the brain guiding and planning, organizing experiences mirror the traditional functions of antiquity s gods, while the left hemisphere mirrors the functions of mere mortals analysis and verbal tasks.Chapter 6 is largely unverifiable speculation about how language developed, which I don t believe holds up well in light of recent research, but for what it s worth 1 Sometime between 70,000 BC to 40,000 BC, vocal qualifiers are invented his example wa hee look out, tiger wa hoo look out, leopard .2 Between 40K and 25K BC, imperatives and further qualifiers were elaborated.3 Between 25K and 15K BC, nouns were invented bases this on the appearance of cave art.4 10K 8K BC, individual names develop though he makes the point that often these incorporate divine names and don t appear to signify a conscious awareness of individuality.It s also in this latest period that gods arise most likely from the auditory and visual hallucinations of dead chieftains and other prominent members of a tribe In Part II, Jaynes theorizes that these deities and spirits became regularized through acculturation Everyone in a particular culture knew that Kshumai, god of agriculture, appeared to tell the farmer when it was time to plant the wheat Part II is my favorite part of the book a tour de force of icon bashing that leaves you breathless In brief, Jaynes believes that BM ed humans coped quite well for millennia, though in and complex relationships, ultimately creating the elaborate city states and early nations made possible by the Agricultural Revolution Eventually, Sumer invented writing, which weakened the authority of the BM by making the gods commands silent and locatable They no longer carried volitional power The BM wasn t immediately displaced It wasn t until the 2nd millennium BC that conditions were right for the fully conscious mind to emerge and, even then, it would be another 1,000 years for it to become dominant.I m going to pass over Chapter 1 in this section as it s primarily an introduction Jaynes begins laying out his arguments in Chapter 2, where he explains his belief that all pre CM civilizations were organized as hierarchical, absolute theocracies ruled either by steward kings Sumer or god kings Egypt People either interacted with representations of the gods idols or with their living avatars Priest castes arose to regulate this heavenly diplomacy.In Egypt, the pharaohs as god kings lost control of the system, which crashed c 2000 BC with the end of the Old Kingdom Subsequent periods of political unity exhibit greater and greater consciousness The BM ed steward kings of the Middle East exhibited greater flexibility and coped into the 18th century BC before utter social collapse.Chapter 3 discusses the social chaos which ushered in the second millennium and the CM Based on surviving inscriptions Jaynes believes that there were no private ambitions or grudges because there was no private space Intercultural relations were carried on my men listening to the voices in their heads or form their idols In times of plenty, relations were usually amicable in times of want or stress, they deteriorated rapidly The 2nd millennium BC was a period of high stress Externally, populations were on the move, and nations such as Assyria and Babylon were expanding internally, writing continued to weaken the BM s hold on humanity, and men were losing the guidance of the gods voices Jaynes characterizes the period as one of anomie and intense fear as humans found themselves alone as they had never experienced the sensation before The response was a breakdown in authority and a calamitous rise in violence Religions began to appear that were than simply ritual but codified moral behavior and set down laws as well It s interesting to note the Jaynes timeline broadly reflects that of the Axial Age the name historians have given to that period when the spiritual foundations of all modern civilizations were laid see, Karen Armstrong s The Great Transformation The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions or Rodney Stark s Discovering God The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief or, if you prefer it fictionalized, Gore Vidal s Creation A Novel.The first transitional culture, Assyria, arose c 1400 BC savage and semi conscious From 2000 to 1700 BC, the Assyrians had established themselves in a far ranging network of trade missions Jaynes suggests that Assyrian traders became contaminated by contact with foreigners and different gods, which brought about the consciousness of difference and the idea of another self It also brought about the collapse of that first epoch and the eventual rise of the Assyrian Empire Its legendary cruelty was not a manifestation of the CM but of the BM attempting to reassert control by prompting the Assyrians to destroy what was alien I m reminded of the classic Star Trek episode, Return of the Archons, and the Body s attempts to destroy Kirk and his crew The chapter wraps up with a summary of the signs of the CM 1 Observation of difference Humans saw something else controlling strangers actions and inferred a similar self within themselves.2 Narratization Codification through the written word of past events The birth of cause and effect 3 The invention of lying Not the movie but the idea s the same Humans became capable of projecting an outer persona that differed from their internal one.4 Natural selection Though Jaynes doesn t believe the CM has a biological origin, he allows that it was a survival trait and that humans capable of consciousness bred longer and faster than their BM cousins.Chapter 4 continues to build on 3 s evidence or evidence if you re not buying Jaynes brand of snake oil With the emergence of the CM, humans no longer have a direct connection to divinity Because the gods have fallen silent for most, we see the emergence of angels and demons, ideas of good and evil and divinatory practices where the increasingly rare human conduit still heard divine voices e.g., Delphi or rituals sussed out divine pleasure e.g., casting lots In the Abrahamic religions, the Fall of Adam reflected this falling away from the gods Man becomes separated from God, who used to walk with him in the cool of the evening in Eden.Chapter 5 turns to The Iliad as one of the clearest examples of the transition from the BM to the CM, focusing on several terms that begin as fully concrete behaviors or actions and wind up becoming metaphors of the CM The oddest example being psyche, which began life as the verb to breathe, became life in the sense of an animating force, and ended up meaning soul Chapter 6 finishes the section by taking a look at the Jewish Testament Christians OT For Jaynes, even than the Greeks, the Hebrews document the end of the BM A summary of his arguments follows 1 Contrasts Amos 8th century BC with Ecclesiastes 2nd century BC and argues that the former is clearly a BM Amos speaks only as the voice of God, without introspection Ecclesiastes, on the other hand, is full of introspection and rarely speaks in God s voice or even as His agent.2 Development of the nabiim prophets Jaynes believes that the proto Hebrews the khabiru were the remnants of still BM dominated outcasts pushed to the edges of CM ed civilizations From these dregs emerged men like Amos who still heard gods or God s voices and spoke for them or Him.Prophets became necessary because God was too remote No longer heard, He was only seen, and then rarely in human form such as a burning bush or a column of fire They were required to bring some order to the inconsistent voices The BM s genius for enforcing social control and stable hierarchies was forever gone and God s voice was saying different things to different people Acceptable voices became orthodoxy unacceptable ones became the ravings of the insane a novel category as, in a BM ed world, everyone was mad from a CM point of view.3 Saul is the first fully conscious man in Hebrew history He can t hear God, he rebels against Samuel s admonitions, and he lies.I scant Part III because my fingers grow weary It traces vestiges of the BM still found in the modern world It will come as no surprise that schizophrenia is the clearest remnant but there are also oracles, possession including glossolalia , poetry and music see Singing for some recent speculations along these lines , and hypnosis.As I ve intimated, I m not convinced Jaynes has stumbled upon the truth His range of evidence is too narrow, too open to interpretation and largely unverifiable But I also know that some remarkable evidence has emerged see my recommendations above, among other works that point to recent evolutionary changes in the human brain and it s not inconceivable that our mentation could be markedly different even from that of ancestors within written memory There is, too, the fact that we are only at the beginning of understanding the brain Evolutionarily speaking, the CM is a newborn child of the mind, and how it interacts with its unconscious forebears is problematic.In that spirit, I recommend reading this book.

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    Coming in a close third after Immanuel Kant s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Come Forward As Science and Beeban Kidron s To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar in the World s Clunkiest Title competition, TOoCitBotBM is surprisingly accessible given the amount of ground it covers Combining analyses of psychology, archeology, and ancient literature, Jaynes comes up with an astounding hypothesis early man s mind was nothing like the thing we carry around in our skulls today It was like that of a modern schizophrenic s, egoless and subject to manipulation by hallucinated gods This was not a defect Mass hallucination was an essential tool for early social organization, one that evolved into modern individuated consciousness only as circumstances changed Perhaps most intriguingly, Jaynes maintains that this variety of consciousness persisted until the dawn of recorded history So books like the Bible and the Iliad are glimpses not only into different eras, but entirely different modes of human thought Homer and Moses are as strange to us as Martians.As fascinating as Jaynes ideas may be, it s not clear what we re supposed to do with them Even at its most specific, his hypothesis is wholly unfalsifiable, and the supporting data, while extensive, is hard to evaluate The lay reader has to take Jaynes word for it when he uses linguistic evidence from ancient Greek to claim that somatic metaphors in the Iliad should be interpreted literally, or draws detailed inferences from the size of eye sockets in ancient Mesopotamian statues Despite the even scholarly tone, Jaynes often sounds like a crank, though it s not clear if it s his scholarship that s at fault or the fact that his thesis is just too marijuana friendly.This book s weirdness, however, is an essential part of its continued popularity Like C.G Jung, Jaynes has a mystical appeal He explores the spooky intersection of madness, consciousness, and the ancient world in a scientific theory that accounts for gods and oracles without wholly explaining them away Perhaps it s best to approach Origin as a masterfully detailed work of science fiction where Julian Jaynes is a pseudonym for Jorge Luis Borges Bicameral breakdown or no, human consciousness had to have an origin somewhere, and a meditation on where that origin might lie makes for heady reading.

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    Either a work of unparalleled genius, or completely out to lunch loopy No one, not even Richard Dawkins, appears quite certain which description to apply.____________________________________There are surprising resonances between Jaynes s ideas and those proposed by Feyerabend in Chapter 16 of Against Method I was particularly struck by the following passage italics as in original The transition from the Homeric archaic Greek view of the world to the classical Greek view of the world thus introduces new entities and new relations between entities this is seen very clearly in painting and statuary It also changes the concept and the self experience of humans An archaic individual is an assemblage of limbs, connections, trunk, head, neck, s he is a puppet set in motion by outside forces such as enemies, social circumstances, feelings which are described and perceived as objective agencies Man is an open target of many forces which impinge on him, and penetrate his very core He is an exchange station of material and spiritual, but always objective, causes And this is not just a theoretical idea, it is a social fact Man is not only described in this way, he is depicted in this way, and he feels himself to be constituted in this manner He does not possess a central agency of action, a spontaneous I that produces its own ideas, feelings, intentions, and differs from behaviour, social situations, mental events of the Homeric archaic view Such an I is neither mentioned nor is it noticed It is nowhere to be found within the Homeric archaic view But it plays a decisive role within the classical view Indeed, it is not implausible to assume that some outstanding peculiarities of the classical view such as aspects, semblances, ambiguity of feeling enter the stage as a result of a sizeable increase of self consciousness.Oddly enough, Feyerabend makes no reference to Jaynes, despite the fact that the third edition, which I am reading, was published in 1990, 14 years after Jaynes.

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    This was one of the most stimulating and important books I ve ever encountered by a psychologist Although flawed in some important respects, it is profoundly provocative, suggesting areas for further speculation and research not only in psychology, but also in the cultural anthropology of religions.The primary flaw of Jayne s work is his literary evidence for the claim that humans didn t develop reflective consciousness until ca 1000 BCE He relies too much on the earlier texts of the Iliad for his argument and one is suspicious that he is not really qualified to handle the material Appendices by Homer scholars, particularly those specialized in the history of the texts of the Iliad, would have been valuable Naturally, one would also like expert support, if available, from scholars specializing in other areas of ancient literature, particularly the most ancient literature of Sumer No certain conclusions could be drawn as no such hypothesis is testable, but a stronger case might be made for plausibility.The primary virtue of Jayne s work so far as I was, and am, concerned is that he encouraged me to rethink my attitudes about religion and the psychoses My tendency had been to consider the claims made for supernatural interventions in human affairs, that is, much of religion, as being sinister contrivances or simple craziness, as being lies or loonyness Jaynes suggestion that auditions and hallucinations, that aural and visual apparitions, were at one time normative for everyone and still remain normal in the early stages of cognitive development helped me look at religious history much sympathetically His descriptions of how victims of certain forms of brain injury seem to experience similarly helped me see the psychotic sympathetically as well Few books I have ever read have so much contributed to me taking seriously what once I had rejected.

  7. says:

    This book is very stimulating.That is not to say it is correct or incorrect as a theory of consciousness, but there are enough examples and provocative ideas to make me think it might be right And that s the whole problem I can t immediately discount it It keeps creeping back into my consciousness.Even when reading it with deep suspicions, the very meme of this core idea breaks down the wall between my right and left hemispheres and I no longer have an external agent telling me what I must do No voices, no riding in my body like I m not an agent of my own destiny, and not even the god of the right side of my brain giving me instructions I jest, kinda For this is the key to the book It postulates that humanity was like a zombie agent in the philosophical parlance than any true consciousness before the advent of writing That language, itself, was a meme that forced us to develop, and re develop our cognitions until we became our own agents, doing things by our own decisions.Before, we were all highly perceptive creatures that always acted without reflection We went through our lives, followed orders, did what needed to be done, but never thought of ourselves as actors No I Language, as a meme, destroyed that boundary Brought creativity into motive, the idea of self into all equations It explains why a mass of humanity could accomplish the pyramids on either side of the ocean, probably without complaint There was no self Death masks and spirits of the dead, gods, oracles, etc., could be heard by anyone and it all came from the outside Separate from us, but undeniable, like an edict from high The theory is that these commands came from the right hemisphere The creative center of the brain It fits And so much of this book is devoted to the Homeric epics, to poetry, to possession, art, and music When it became commonplace, the reliance on gods diminished Rapidly We internalized it, and it was thanks to language.So seductive.And it sparks my imagination, too I think about how many people today want to submerge their consciousnesses again, be it by faith in God, alcohol, drugs, or any number of addictions including internet It feels like a biological callback to the times when we did not have guilt or worry We just followed outside orders from kings and gods, not caring if we lived or died because there was no self at all to care It s a freedom in the most literal sense of the word Freedom from self I think of Buddhism Or being welcomed in the arms of God in heaven Of raptures and release.This is what language freed us from This is also the story of the Tree of Knowledge Which happens to come from right after the time we developed this facility, according to Jaynes.Interesting, no Why have we come so far, so fast Our humanity is much older than this timeframe, and yet it is not this chaotic, developed, or fractured We selected ourselves, either genetically or socially, to increase the likelihood of a greater mix of both the left and right hemispheres of our brains And here we are.Very interesting.

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    yon.ir paKL yon.ir gULE yon.ir m2Tthttp doran.persianblog.ir post 16 .

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    Amazing Reading The Iliad and the Old Testament of the Bible, I ve always wondered about one distinctive feature they both share an utter lack of interiority, of introspection by the characters I brushed it aside as the literary style of the times in which they were composed orally and then textually , but Julian Jaynes has quite a different take the characters like the rest of their contemporaries were not conscious at all.This claim alone was enough reason to pick this book up His thesis is simple Consciousness, like everything else in evolution, must have arisen sometime in the history of the human race When Not until 1,000 BCE.Mind blown yet But wait a minute, you might ask, how in the world did we live before 1,000 BCE What about those pyramids, the kingdoms, the ancient scripts Jaynes has an answer we created them all unconsciously, in the pre conscious mentality he calls the bicameral mind, where we were practically unconscious automatons obeying the hallucinated voices of gods If you go through the book, these mind obliteratingly strange claims stop being so ridiculous He backs up his claims with a panoply of diverse evidence, from the philological The Iliad, The Oddysey, the Bible among others and the archeological Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Mayans , to the neurological the lateralized brain structure and the psychological schizophrenia and hypnosis Another important task he sets for himself is explaining the causes of consciousness If bicameral kingdoms were doing fine without consciousness, what factors and forces selected the trait of consciousness to emerge in our evolutionary past He attributes it to a few possible causes 1 overpopulation 2 chaotic social disorganizations caused by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption and subsequent mass migrations and conquests and 3 the rise of writing to replace the auditory mode of bicameral command.The best part of this book in my opinion is Book I where he discusses what consciousness is and how it must have emerged Short answer language and its capacity to create metaphors The long answer is that metaphor is the way we understand things in the world and that consciousness is essentially the metaphor of the world we have created in our mind To understand this quite paradigm and mind shifting argument, you need to grasp that consciousness really doesn t do as much as you think it does which, by the way, is consistent with the recent passive frame theory of consciousness proposed by this psychologist We do all sorts of activities rather unconsciously From driving to learning any new skills, we do them unconsciously Even the representative activities of consciousness thinking and writing and I can attest to this from experience are done without consciousness Words come to us, or bubble up to consciousness from somewhere else So do thoughts And have you ever been in a situation where you were playing a sport you had been playing competitively for a long time and then in the middle of a game, you started becoming conscious of some aspect of it such as the way you serve in tennis, for example and you just crumble Consciousness, it turns out, is detrimental to athletic performance beyond certain competence So what does consciousness do Goal setting for one And several other operations Jaynes lists in this section of his book 1 spatialization including of time , 2 excerpting or the visually limited way we imagine and reminisce things , 3 the construction of the I which, he argues is an analogue of the body there s nothing in consciousness you can t find in the external world , 4 the construction of the metaphor me where we can look at ourselves doing things 5 narratization, in which we are always telling stories about ourselves and things happening in the world and 6 conciliation, which is basically the way we interpret the world to be consistent with what we believe.One major dissatisfaction with this description of consciousness was that some of these operations purportedly done by consciousness seem to be done un or subconsciously, such as narratization, the construction of the unified self, and conciliation Do we consciously create an I Do we not tell stories almost automatically I mean think of the time when you saw someone cut in in front of you in traffic You must have cursed under your breath or shouted, Ass hole But what would have happened if you had learned later that the driver in question was rushing to the hospital to save his her daughter who lay unconscious in the back seat The point is, we automatically construct narratives all the time, unconsciously So what does consciousness really do That s something anyone serious about Jaynes s theory must address in the future.Overall, it was a fantastic read with a long middle portion that was rather bogged down but necessary Given the nature of the investigation I mean, how do you prove or disprove the existence of consciousness from what must be a fraction of the entire ancient artifacts and texts created by human civilizations of the past however, I came away still somewhat skeptical in the end, not just because the lack of evidence for consciousness can t be equated with the evidence for lack of consciousness they are very, very different things , but because of Jaynes s propensity to exclude alternative explanations whenever he has a chance in order to affirm his position E.g It is difficult to understand human effigies obvious importance to the cultures involved with them apart from the supposition that they were aids in hallucinating voices 165 , or discussing ancient chariot burials Why all this Unless the dead kings were thought to still live and need their chariots and servants because their speech was still heard 163 And one for good measure I find that the only notion which provides even a working hypothesis about this matter of the tendency of schizophrenics to take hallucinated voices as authoritative and even religious is that of the bicameral mind, that the neurological structure responsible for these hallucinations is neurologically bound to substrates for religious feelings 413 Then there s his obsession with hallucinated voice which, incidentally, made me so interested in the whole topic that I went ahead and bought the audiobook for Oliver Sack s Hallucinations It is a fascinating hypothesis to be sure that we heard hallucinated voices of gods back in our bicameral days , but I got the impression that he makes way too much of the phenomenon, though of course there s no way to tell yet if he was right or wrong in making it a cornerstone of his theory.Whatever the weaknesses of his theory, though, this book is definitely worth reading for the sheer number of insights it contains about our consciousness, ancient Greek literature, psychology, history, and our modern world that may or may not exhibit relics of our bicameral past.Five stars.

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    In the process of trying to decide where to begin my review of The Undoing Project A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, it suddenly occurred to me that revisiting Julian Jaynes 1976 book would be a place to start Since this morning I ve lost the thread of why I thought so, but maybe I ll remember as I go along.I have the original 1976 hardback, but since there s a bookstore sticker on the back that says 2 28 78, I know I didn t read it until then The impetus was that I was a graduate student in psychology and a professor spoke positively of it It has been living in this room longer than there has been a computer here.The thesis of the book goes something like this ancient man wasn t conscious as we are When he or she had to decide what to do in situations beyond the norm he heard what he accepted as God the gods instructing him what to do, and then automatically did it According to the hypothesis, that s how what we would now call decision making happened Then and here I refreshed my mind via Wikipedia , over the millennium running roughly from 1800 to 800 BCE, consciousness as we now experience it emerged, so that deciding what to do no longer consisted of hearing and obeying the voices of the gods.Ah That must be the connection In The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis is writing about Daniel Kahneman Thinking, Fast and Slow and Amos Tversky and their work on how we make decisions Anyway, I think The Origins of Consciousness deals also with such matters as why ancient man submitted docilely to conditions of abject slave labor, as well as hypothesizing that there were actual neural pathways in the brain to carry the voices of the divine slavemasters It is the latter, implying as it does major physiological changes over a relatively few centuries, that is generally questioned.From the start, I thought something else was wrong with the picture since I was doing my research on dreams and Julian Jaynes didn t mention dreams How could you hypothesize that voices are exclusively a thing of the past or of pathology without considering the circumstance in which everyone hears them Well, it turns out that in the afterword of an edition a decade or later, the author says he had to leave out two chapters on dreams at the behest of his editor The book was deemed too long.This isn t a book you forget Plus, it continues to come up on occasion Some time in 2009 the rabbi who was leading the weekly Torah study brought it up, seriously as far as I could tell, as a hypothesis about the auditory experiences of certain characters of the Hebrew bible This was an erudite and scholarly young man who never would put forth that volcanic action can explain the stories of the ten plagues or suchlike I couldn t believe he was serious.I think that, just as people s understanding might err due to, say, Eurocentrism, or American exceptionalism, Julian Jayne s hypothesis erred due to present centrism In other words, it s as though we are now at some pinnacle of behavior and understanding that differentiates us from the benighted people of pre antiquity We suppose ourselves, unlike them, to be independent individuals making rational judgments and decisions We are not tuned to social expectations We are not at the back and call of our internalized families We do not harken all unawares to the tidal pull of our communities Oh, no Not us We are above our biology, or so we think.Also see Books, The Voices in Our Heads Why do people talk to themselves by Jerome Groopman Review of Charles Fernyhough s The Voices Within , The New Yorker, issue of January 9, 2017