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Julian Jaynes & the Bicameral Mind

August 18
00:53 2011
From the Julian Jaynes Society about “The Origins of Consciousness In the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”:

Presents a theory of the bicameral mind which holds that ancient peoples could not “think” as we do today and were therefore “unconscious,” a result of the domination of the right hemisphere; only catastrophe forced mankind to “learn” consciousness, a product of human history and culture and one that issues from the brain’s left hemisphere. Three forms of human awareness, the bicameral or god-run man; the modern or problem-solving man; and contemporary forms of throwbacks to bicamerality (e.g., religious frenzy, hypnotism, and schizophrenia) are examined in terms of the physiology of the brain and how it applies to human psychology, culture, and history.

Terence McKenna wrote:

Jaynes uses four hundred and forty-five pages to lay out his ideas concerning the role that hallucinations, especially audio hallucinations, have played in the structuring of mind. Jaynes believes that until the time of roughly the Iliad, around 1400 B.C., nothing at all like modern ego-centered and individuated consciousness existed. Instead, he argues that people behaved like automata or social insects, unconsciously going about the tasks of the hive. Only in moments of great stress and personal danger was this regimen broken. In such moments an impersonal mind, outside the usual experience of the world, became manifest as a voice.

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1 Comment

  1. Dan Rudy
    Dan Rudy August 20, 20:26

    Wow, interesting! But only 3400 years of ego? That sounds implausibly short a time, but in some ways might explain the seeming explosion of technology and warfare that was to follow.

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