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Jullian Jaynes' "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" Options
 
CatholicPsychonaut
#1 Posted : 9/17/2012 1:18:16 AM

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I started reading "The Origins of Consciousness" yesterday afternoon and I simply CANNOT put it down. I remember Terence McKenna mentioning this book in a few of his talks in the mid-90s, but I never got around to reading it back then. I don't know if I can actually buy the main premise, that consciousness isn't really a "thing", but a mode of thought process which is primarily a cultural creation, less than 3000 years old. Before this, Jaynes postulates, human culture possessed a "bicameral" mind, by which he means that humans didn't really have consciousness at all, and viewed insight, decision making, and moral guidance as coming not from within, but from disembodied voices, the "voices of the Gods" which likely originated form the now dormant vocal centers in the right hemisphere of the brain, the same ones which are likely the source of audio hallucinations in schizophrenics.

Has anyone else read this? If so, what do you think.
"Christians often ask why God does not speak to them, as they believed God did in former days. When I hear such questions, it always makes me think of the Rabbi who was asked how it could be that God was manifest to people in the olden days whereas nowadays nobody ever sees God. The rabbi replied, 'Nowadays there is no longer anybody who can bow low enough.'"
--Carl Jung
 

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Handel
#2 Posted : 7/9/2020 10:33:44 AM

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It's a great theory, but he also says that this bicamerality was present from 9000 BC to 1177 BC. Without it, people usually weren't doing much (if a schizophrenic person is any indication, since some of them can't function without the voices, that Jaynes suggests too). But if that was true, what about all the prehistoric people, before 9000 BC? It'd mean that they wouldn't even bother go for hunting.
 
monomind
#3 Posted : 7/9/2020 10:46:32 AM

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Handel wrote:
It's a great theory, but he also says that this bicamerality was present from 9000 BC to 1177 BC. Without it, people usually weren't doing much (if a schizophrenic person is any indication, since some of them can't function without the voices, that Jaynes suggests too). But if that was true, what about all the prehistoric people, before 9000 BC? It'd mean that they wouldn't even bother go for hunting.


Hunting is a pure survival issue and human consciousness is not necessarily required for achieving it. Even animals hunt and some of them also do it in packs and in cooperation...
 
coAsTal
#4 Posted : 7/9/2020 2:30:58 PM

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I read it many years ago-- found it quite interesting.
I think it's a clever way to articulate the difference between "mind" and "meta-mind", and he does a good job of expressing how that "meta-awareness" of the thinking act allows it to then be directed in novel ways-- I always mentally analogized it as the difference between 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional thought-space.

Lots of good thought in that book.
 
Handel
#5 Posted : 7/11/2020 2:20:31 AM

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Quote:
Hunting is a pure survival issue and human consciousness is not necessarily required for achieving it.


Maybe. But animals don't do art in their caves. I find unbelievable that humans had that bicameral mode only from 9k to 1k BC. It's too convenient.
 
pinkoyd
#6 Posted : 7/12/2020 3:08:10 AM

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I read it many moons ago back somewhere in the 90s. Striking as it was at the time it does not seem to have influenced my thinking on the subject over the long haul. If I recall correcly it wasn't received too well in academia either. Fun read though.
I already asked Alice.

 
 
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