Re: "Bipolar mind"

Gregory Grant (
7 Feb 1995 21:17:57 GMT

In article <3h0mj5$> (Dale Huckeby) writes:
> In article <>,
> Douglas Alan <> wrote:
> >In article <3gq0l7$bch$> Daniel Hale
> ><76143.614@CompuServe.COM> writes:
> >
> >> There was a book published back in the '70s that I'm looking for.
> >> was called [something something] _Divisions of the Bipolar Mind_.
> >> The jist of this book is that Homo brains were significantly
> >> different as late as 1200 BC compared to modern brains, in that the
> >> separation between the conscious and subconcious mind was not as
> >> wide as today.
> >
> >I don't recall the exact name of the book, but it is closer to *The
> >Rise of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind*.
> >The great congitive theorist Marvin Minsky described this book as the
> >most interesting book he's ever read that is obviouysly false.
> *The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind* by
> Julian Jaynes is the book in question. Houghton Mifflin is the
> It came out in 1976 and there was new edition in 1990 with an afterword
> by the author. What I'm wondering is, did Minsky just say it was
> false", or did he explain why he thought so?
> Dale Huckeby

Jaynes himself says, somewhere in this book, that in order for his
theory to be right it must be that language appeared very
recently, on the order of a few thousand years, not more than ten
(if I recall correctly). But it is well accepted now that language
is not something we've learned (like math), but is something hard
wired into our brains, we evolved physically to use language, (this
is all well supported by the work of Chomsky et al). This makes
it seem quite unlikely that it is then so recent as Jaynes speculates.

Another bothersome thing was that Jaynes didn't address how the new
world civilizations fit into his scheme. Were they "unconcious" when
Columbus arrived, and then quickly snapped out of it, or did their
bicameral mind also break down?

All in all, though far fetched, the book is thought provoking, and does
have some interesting points about the evolution of language, and the
nature of conciousness.