I’ve only started with summaries of Jayne’s work so far (via youtube) but it is definitely interesting and I intend to read it more which will likely take some time to digest. Thinking through his theory of human / civilization’s evolution has massive implications for how we could interpret religion and macrohistory. Far from why I was getting at but undoubtably fascinating in it’s own right.
From what I gather so far it is dealing with a definition of consciousness akin to a form of abstract reasoning rather than the subjective non-abstract non-reasoning that I was last looking into. There really should be more specific terms for the different consciousnesses. I think the sentiment about why use X term for consciousness rather than Y, is beyond the point. We can have questions to answer and think about with both X and Y that are separate, legitimate, and fascinating. Furthermore, just because one term for consciousness is more straightforward to define, work with, and answer questions with doesn’t mean we just give up on all the questions posed by the other term (so far as you believe there is a place for both terms).
When we look at things from a behavioral perspective and think about determinism I think that’s one discussion to have about “free will”, which is one thing. I think the subjective reality perspective that is outside the scope of definitive conclusions (given how it presumably varies between every animal and even human) is another separate question that is valid to pose too. Suppose you were “enslaved” to follow the actions of a program (whether it be lines of code, the other half of the cerebrum, etc). That would have certain implications about free will, but the fact that there would be anything that is feeling enslaved or experiencing anything at all is in some ways more perplexing to me. Even if there is no choices to be made or actions to be taken, there could still be an experience (the viewer of the theater of the mind). While we can’t tell if an animal (or even another human) has a “viewer” I’d say it would be strange to take the belief that the viewer is an illusion and the feeling of being a viewer that you have is just a glitch. I think that is the analytical mind confusing itself by believing conclusions that are more straightforward via a logical sense based on what is known, but further from everyday reality.
What I would lean to do is assume that there is a viewer that is not an illusion, but not assume that it is something that can be found or proved in a traditional sense. Maybe it is not so much a noun as a verb if that makes any sense. For example, maybe there is no viewer but there is a process of viewing that certain configurations of matter can (must?) do. It for example may be related to the process of evaluation, growth, and application of a mini-model of the universe. Each being would have a radically different model in terms of connectivity, representation, capacity, etc but they would all share certain things too. So far every being like this that has this property of “being a viewer” shares at least one thing in common; their existence is due to adhering to the law of self-preservation (and replication). We are all slaves to natural selection. I think this is why some of the most deep-reaching / root emotions that I’d assume can be experienced by all the “living” beings are: fear and suffering. Now step back and think of something that had all the properties of being “a viewer” but is not a product of natural selection. This thing may have nothing even remotely similar to an emotion that can be experienced by an animal or a human. What I’m getting at is what we could (and I think probably will) make in computers—something able to experience many things but nothing like an emotion. It may be possible that they too are “viewers” or perhaps better put there would be processes that are viewing; however I think there may be an unscalable rift in relating to their experience (and theirs to ours) because of these inherently different modes of generation.
Jaynes never specifically says whether the model of self is merely part of his definition, or if it’s impossible to separate it from the model of the rest of reality. I’m leaning toward the latter. He never refers to the model of self (there are two, actually: the “analog I” and the “metaphor me”) as an illusion, but I’m thinking that maybe that’s exactly what it is: an illusion that makes the rest of the model possible.
Most of what I’ve seen online about Jaynes deals with his bicameral mind theory. I really recommend reading his book, for the first part, where he defines consciousness and explains in great detail why he chose that definition. My one-sentence definition (“The process by which a model of reality is constructed in the mind, and the model of self that inhabits and/or observes it”) doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.
Then check out this “art-house SciFi” flick: Under the Skin. There’s a great Jaynesian interpretation of it once you know what to look for.
Julian Jaynes is looked at fondly but not seriously by today’s cognitive psychologists. His voice remains important, but only in an initial gathering-of-information sense.
To whom this may be of some interest:
Not a writer, little college and English is 2nd language although preferred from native language. From:
“A layman’s one-time blog, article, essay, whatever
In this tiny planet lives tiny beings with tiny brains producing experiences in a tiny corner of the head.
The emperor is all clothes and all about skin in the age of packaging and marketing. A reflection on what we have become.
No apologies to those who know they do not know. Words are freely used here. They will come and go, whether in seeming clarity or contradictions. It’s here and not here so it is not because the mind is clear, but rather one never knows when the mind is clear. Saying the mind is clear would be like asking if the sky is clear. But the sky is the sky. One can not grab it, only the things moving around. So can there also be clarity in a mind emptying itself of its contents? One has to find out for oneself.
Freedom is boundless intelligence. The other way around is not, so it is not about what one wants or demands. It can not be measured so nothing to do with size and numbers, whether one has more possessions than others or one is in a higher position than others in the steep ladder of human aspirations.
It is not something that can be aspired for, so it is not about comparison. Not about the-more-and-the-better, nor about the-more-the-better. It comes on its own from its unknown nature, not driven by thinking, not by or for the personal, not something to be claimed or possessed, for arrogance of the learned or an owner only covers it up with ignorance.
It has no opposites so it is not about games of opposites. We old minds may recall innocent games we enjoyed as children. Like being in a seesaw with one end going up while the other end is going down, a playful game of opposites. Another common enjoyment is the swing, just oneself going up and down. Growing up however requires the learning of self-nurturing games of opposites that adults go through in the individual pursuit of a successful life (drumroll). In the daily exposures to the way of life and pressures to blend in by cultural conditioning, so on, that a child experiences to become *something*, so as not to be regarded and treated as *nothing*, it is all too often that when knowledge is gained, being a child is lost.
That intelligence is not something put together by thought, invested with meaning and purpose. It is not in the movement of thought so it is not of the mind. Giving it a name and putting words around it is not it.
Rather it is from nature, something brought about by eons of evolution. It is natural intelligence already here, an inheritance through the species. We have glimpses of it as children when we go through wondrous states or magical moments when touched by something new and unknown to our child mind. It is also in the pure anguish when a child sees something in physical pain. We see it also in action, not as premeditated action, but at times of crisis that demands critical action and no time for thought except time to respond to a pure demand for all to act together or for one to help another in distress, not bounded by motivations and questions about differences, whether accidental or ones that separate. That natural intelligence is also there in utter silence, in the adult ever a child reborn, in seeing the immensity of it all through the nothingness of the mind, whether looking at a tiny leaf or being among the bright night sky and the silent stars. It is not when in a silence fabricated by the mind, but when the mind is silenced by what is before it, unable to touch it, unable to put a word into it.”
” The beginning of the end of the wonderment in a child is when it is introduced to knowing, to knowledge, to the familiarity of someone or something. Confined to knowledge in its young life, and into the psychology that the way to life is through knowledge. Knowledge built from the first word learned and uttered through the first recitation, remembrance and repetition. Knowing is born and when followed by understanding, the first answer is in for the first question by the I-know as one who has the answers. Then I-know gives birth to its opposite I-don’t-know and this seals it all for knowledge to be the be-all-and-end-all that covers up not knowing. I-know and I-don’t-know working together to settle all questions with ready answers - the known and the unknown as one.
In a child’s early mind, out of nothing something is born to be nourished by thought through thinking. In the who there must be someone, in the what there must be something, in the why there must be cause, in the when there must be time, in the how there must be a way, in the where there must be space. A child is brought up to know by reciting, repeating and remembering. In the new are moments of wonder when discoveries are made in early explorations. In the old, familiarities are reinforced as things appear and reappear in the mind. Ask a child, and the child readily answers, for the questions already contain answers. Ask an adult, and the devil is in the details, what’s embraced at the moment, by the evolution of the self, a reality shaped by nurturing of wants, feelings, emotions, experiences, thoughts, words, so on, bundled into self-importance in the want of permanence and fulfillment.
From the young, not yet hardened by the conditioning by knowledge, into adulthood, hardened by the grip of conditioned knowledge, is a leap into nurturing a way of life in a particular culture. The conditioning by knowledge is evolution revolutionized into questions and answers, so to speak, that is unique to the human species. For thinking has become a tool to stimulate, repeat and strengthen what are valued as desirable, of the sensual or whatever. But as what is desirable implies the undesirable, it is a process of constant conflicts. The noises and reactions is what dominate - stresses from thinking and from primordial reactions busy working the switches, or synapses, with the slightest invitation or provocation. Yet in the million of years.of evolution, there is also what appears inaccessible to human thinking, of what might be acausal, quiet living intelligence already is but unseen, pushed in the background by the cause and effect noises of becoming, emerging only under the right conditions.
In the world of knowledge, of the interplay of questions and answers, is also the birth of symbolic human aspirations when sensations are nuanced into categories, into words. On top are what are called universal or ultimate questions: meaning of life, purpose of life, truth, free will, morality, so on. But are called ultimate only because behind the questions is the ultimate questioner - the seeker of answers as all that there is has become an object of knowing by human thought. With values set by human thought, especially when the questions also fabricate the opposite reflections. Purpose into purposeless, meaning into meaningless, morality into immoral, so on. Unseen in the questions is already the answers that produce the questions: the question evoking the need for valued answers, to impress on the inquisitive that in the question must be an answer. Much like the seeking of something from nothing that traps the thinker in seeking. Or trapped in the same human condition of illusions and delusions, producing the spectrum of answers and the conflicts of opposites. The yes or no, pros and cons preserving the status quo of the continuity of thought and of seeking. And round and round we go with all the categorizing nuances, from hidden answers into posing of the questions, from so-called solutions into their problems. Looking for ghosts in the mirror while not seeing what is before the mirror, for it too has become a category by thought - the mind, thinker, self, the I, free will, spirit, soul, consciousness, whatever name is given to the mirage of a center.
For all that there is has become only as reflections of human thought, that looking outside is but a reflection of what is inside, of the categorizing by the thinker of its things in memory, the center of every thing in a private materialistic world of ideas in the tiny corner of the head.
” People like to take a walk in nature for the presence of all this around us. For the space and beauty of the scenery that it gives, for the vastness of the ocean beyond and of the skies above that stirs the imagination even into a glimpse of eternity. For the silence that the attention to the natural sounds give, for the forms, colors, movements of it all away from the everyday life. For the urge to take home pictures what the memories can not retain. And so on for whatever images the imagination will evoke or just for the special moments when in the solitude the self is temporarily forgotten.
Yet unknowingly the walk is from the perspective of a state of knowing, from the conditioning of accumulated knowledge into I-know and I-don’t know, translating what the sensory system stimulates from an undivided world that the mind can not hold into a journey of the knowing mind in its inner world of dissected things. That all this before the eyes is not seen because it is known. It is already something.”
” Human thought lives with two destructive states of knowing that strengthens each other. One is that it does not know that it does not really know and in that is the ignorance accepting all kinds of something from nothing. The other is the illusion of the magician with its magic of all magic: that it knows. Which brings arrogance to the ignorance: an authority unknowingly fabricating answers to questions that are not there and fabricating solutions for problems that do not exist. The something from nothing for the individual to be something to itself, the narrowing of knowing into the delusion of self-importance. In it is the human condition of suffering, unseen by the knower in the daily pressures to live the life in its private materialistic world of ideas.
In the moment when nature is freed from the stranglehold of knowing is the immensity in the silence and nothingness. The immensity not of size but of being free from the the grip of the materialistic world of ideas. In the silence, nature being not of ideas. In the nothingness, nature being not of things. No point of contact or separation for there is no individual looking up. There is only nature looking down, for lack of better terms, and in this, unparadoxically, is the immensity of silence and nothingness unto the living organism. In the silence and nothingness the organism is back to nature from the illusion of separation, into being nothing to itself. For what is looking down is not human thought, but the boundless presence of what is alive.
Yet all these words can not be but by and for the knower, in the description of when human thought is not. It would be silly to ask a jellyfish what is it like to be a jellyfish, but also silly to ask a knower what is it like looking at all this when the knower is not, for it can backstep all the way from the known into its unknown, the source of something from nothing. Somewhere in the evolution of intelligence between the jellyfish and the knower must be a gift of nature: the boundless presence of all there is unto the living - evolution’s ultimate magic in any walk of life.”