mystery of consciousness: what about Julian Jaynes?

Ray Man
Ray Man
Total Posts:  11
Joined  26-08-2011
14 October 2011 13:21

I just read Sam’s article, “The Mystery of Consciousness” and wondered if Sam has any thoughts on Julian Jaynes’ book, “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” and how many forum members have read it.

I’m not going to attempt to summarize Jaynes’ theory (google it) except to say that I’m very intrigued by the idea that true consciousness only came about after “civilization” was well underway, and the invention of written language probably helped spark the evolution of the human brain’s capacity to introspect and be self-aware. could pre-conscious people really build the pyramids? did they “hear voices” in much the same way as modern schizophrenics, and were those voices the source of what we now call religion?

I’ve often wondered if some people are more conscious than others. are personality traits like bigotry, intolerance, narrow-mindedness, belief in unbelievable things, lack of empathy, etc an indicator that they are somewhat stunted in the consciousness department? the reason I wonder about this is not out of any sense of “political correctness” on my part (PC types are often irritatingly small-minded in their own way) but rather from my own observation that so many people who profess and cling to irrational beliefs seem to be unable (unwilling?) to really examine their own thoughts and biases.

some people seem to be skeptical by “nature” (innate personality trait) while others seem lost without an “authority figure” to provide easy answers and a simplistic belief system to follow. even a laughably phony televangelist or talk radio blowhard like Rush Limbaugh can be an authority/leader to a rudderless searcher of easy answers. I know a lot of this comes from a person’s upbringing and early home environment, but I’m fairly certain that we shouldn’t overestimate that effect. too many people break out of that mold and become self-actualized almost against all odds.


Total Posts:  8
Joined  14-10-2011
14 October 2011 17:48

Bicameralism has very little support in mainstream science.

I’m surprised at Sam’s article seeming to imply that there is something more mysterious going on than a straightforward function of the physical brain. Seeing as everything we feel, think, do, ponder, or otherwise do consciously must be a result of our physical brain I don’t see that consciousness can be anything but the complex interplay of unconscious events in the brain.