The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
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The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
Julian Jaynes
Philosophy & Religion
Jul 28, 2018
On any list of intellectually provocative volumes, this brilliant exploration of the nature, origin, and history of consciousness earns a place near the top. Jaynes posits that human consciousness was not inherent in animal evolution, but rather is a learned process, based on metaphorical language, that emerged roughly three thousand years ago in response to historical stresses and increasing social complexity. Consciousness, Jaynes asserts, grew out of an earlier mentality he calls the “bicameral” (two-chambered) mind, in which human beings experienced what were essentially auditory or verbal hallucinations that they interpreted as the voices of gods and that directed their actions. Whether or not you are convinced by the author’s arguments, his speculations are guaranteed to invigorate your thinking about thought, language, antiquity, and human nature.
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Talk about a book that will make you reconsider what you think you know! I've read this at least 3 times, and it never gets old. The stuff about how older epics and books of the Bible were written, compared to more modern writings (with, say, 1000 BC being modern) makes a lot of sense, or will at least have you wondering. Jaynes really struck a cord with some people, including Daniel Dennett, and even Richard Dawkins isn't sure whether its rubbish or shear genius.
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