The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind discussion


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Ideas: Does Credibility Matter in Speculation?

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message 1: by Clare (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Clare Seemed with all the disparate viewed expressed in comments to this book there ought to be a discussion going.
Although I'm skeptical of Jaynes' arguments, I'm very interested in these ideas as a source of mind-expanding discussion and thought.

Just to get things started, do you think there is a possibility that the human mind has changed as much as Jaynes says? Was "the Trojan War directed by hallucinations"? Obviously not just the specific Iliadic characters, but in the larger sense, do you buy that Mycenaean humans did not make decisions, but functioned as if they were being operated on by externalities?

As our species changes it does seem very possible that our minds learn to grasp neuronal impulses in different ways, increasingly discerning between internal and external sensation and perception.

Related to this is the question (still open as I'm only in the 4th chapter) of whether or not Jaynes is fully rejecting the idea of external entities (e.g. gods, etc.) influencing human consciousness.


message 2: by Michael (last edited Sep 01, 2012 07:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael I wouldn't characterize Jayne's book as speculation but rather as hypothesis. He does not speculate on the ability of humans to calculate, judge, remember, react, etc without 'conscious' thought playing a part, he cites experimental evidence. There are many other psychological experiments that show how other neural mechanism interfere with conscious thought as well (such as reading a list of colored word where the words don't match the colors they describe, suggesting the color or the semantics are being processed sub-consciously (or unconsciously?)). Although I'm much less familiar with the anthropological and archeological evidence, he does cite references. As a scientific work, I don't think Jaynes addresses directly the existence of mystical beings, as one would not expect of any scientific piece. The reference that brought me to Jaynes was from Dawkin's The God Delusion, in which Dawkin's opinion on the existence of supernatural entities is quite apparent.


Yota Generally I think he's providing a framework with which to interpret the development of religion. It does not preclude 'external entities', Jungian archetypes or whatever else. To me it's a strong hypothesis, as it connects modern-day observations of schizophrenic behavior, to what know / can deduce about ancient peoples.
As for the "change" in human minds, I have to imagine that it was more gradual than what Jaynes is describing. He does make it sound like there was a magical on/off switch around 1500BC. I think that comes from having to present a digestible and not-so-vague theory in a popular book format. But his argument for that general time period seems strong enough .


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