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

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  119 ratings  ·  19 reviews


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 men

Hardcover, 428 pages
Published December 31st 2006 by Julian Jaynes Society (first published January 15th 2006)
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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 ...more
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 fair
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 fi ...more
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)
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 Jay
David Coleman
Mar 23, 2008 David Coleman rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to David by: al
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 more like a
I liked the unpublished essays by Jaynes, Kuijsten's overview and about half of the other chapters. Sometimes I judged by the title that it wouldn't interest me (auditory hallucinations in nonverbal quadriplegics), other times I couldn't get through it. I have to mention Chapter 11 "Greek Zombies" by Sleutels which starts out sounding like a reasonable discussions of the arguments for and against Jaynes' theory but devolves into an overly-complicated series of formal logic propositions whose und ...more
I, probably like many other first-time readers of Jaynes's classic 'The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind', was left wondering whatever happened to Jayne's beautiful theory. How come I don't hear about it in the mainstream press? Could it be that like many other beautiful theories of the past, this too didn't stand up to the deeper, harsher scrutiny that inevitably follows. Marcel's book does a wonderful job of giving the reader at once a review, an update, and a loo ...more
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 rece ...more
In 2002, I read Julian Jaynes' shockingly interesting The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. If you haven't read that book, then this won't make any sense to you. I'm a sucker for a good crackpot theory, and Jaynes' idea that before about 1000BCE everyone was essentially schizophrenic is a whopper that I always thought was impossible to prove, but this book presents some new evidence, and looks at old evidence in a new light. Psychology, linguistics, and neurology al ...more
Jul 29, 2008 Tajsha marked it as to-read
Since I still have not had a chance to get my hands on a copy of this book and had a chance to read it as of yet, I am going to hold off on it for now. I was going to use it in a discussion during an upcoming workshop. I would have liked to have had it read before that event; however, I was not able to... most likely due to the "busy-ness" of my summer with work and such....
I do plan on reading it in the very near future...such as in the next month or two...
What I have learned about this whole
If you are a fan of Julian Jaynes' origin of consciousness theory then there are precious few books for you to read beyond the original. This is one of two out there that I recommend. There are several essays by Jaynes and a number of essays that deal with Jaynes' work penned by other scholars. Mr. Kuijsten himself makes a significant contribution to this volume which is a must have for for anyone interested in the bicameral breakdown hypothesis of the origin of consciousness.
Earl Bayer
This book was an effective follow up go Jaynes' fascinating work that I read in college. "Origins " was a revelation to me and I have reread it several times since. Reflections adds layers to my understanding. It is not a book though that stands up on its own. if you haven't read Origins what are you waiting for?
Aug 25, 2008 Gideon marked it as to-read
Shelves: want
It's so strange that I found out about this book just now, I had my copy of Jaynes's book in my hand not 15 minutes ago! And I don't generally wander about the house groping the thing.

Will have to pick this up.
Canard Frère
Some interesting updates on Jayne's theory and a few critics. Those last ones could have been more developped, otherwise the compilation is a good read if you're already familiar with the subject.
Benjamin Plaggenborg
I bought this book hoping for concrete evidence, but got mostly ad hominem praise for Jaynes and typographic analysis - not the concrete to build houses of.
Ann M
Jan 21, 2011 Ann M marked it as to-read
I couldn't get all the way through the Jaynes book, tho I find the theory fascinating. Have to give this one a try.
David Scherer
one of the most interesting books i've ever opened. a book for both sides of the brain
There was some good additional material here.
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Marcel Kuijsten is editor of the books The Julian Jaynes Collection and Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited , and co-editor (with Prof. Brian J. McVeigh) of The Jaynesian, the newsletter of the Julian Jaynes Society. He is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Julian Jaynes Society.

Please sign up for the JJS mailing list at julianj
More about Marcel Kuijsten...
The Julian Jaynes Collection The Jaynesian: Newsletter of the Julian Jaynes Society (Vol. 3, Issue 1) The Jaynesian: Newsletter of the Julian Jaynes Society (Vol. 1, Issue 2) The Jaynesian: Newsletter of the Julian Jaynes Society (Vol. 1, Issue 1) Abstracts from the 2013 Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies

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“Less than a decade later there was experimental support for the right hemispheric involvement of “intrusive” experiences into awareness. Although imaging technology has shown us that the cerebral volume in which “mind space” exists is configurational and complex, the results strongly support Jaynes’s essential thesis. But perhaps the most compelling congruence with Jaynes’s insights is genetics. Within the last five years science has found that single point mutations on genes can produce permanent changes in speech production. There is now evidence that point mutations, whose mechanisms must still be discerned, can diffuse within decades throughout entire populations. There have been approximately 15 million changes in our species’ genome since our common ancestor with the chimpanzee. There are human accelerated regions in the genome with genes known to be involved in transcriptional regulation and neurodevelopment. They are expressed within brain structures that would have allowed precisely the types of phenomena that Jaynes predicted had occurred around 3,500 years ago. Related genes, attributed to religious beliefs, are found on the same chromosome (for example, chromosome 10) as propensities for specific forms of epilepsy (partial, with auditory features) and schizophrenia. From what we now know about antibody titres and viral infections, the concept of a relatively swift and pervasive change in the microstructure and function of all human brains is no longer that improbable.” 0 likes
“Let us expand, live much, and be many things, and not shirk the complexity of the world or of ourselves. — Julian Jaynes” 0 likes
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