Julian Jaynes

Fri, 30 Dec 94 11:50:25 PDT


I've recently read Julian Jaynes' "The Origin of Consciousness in the
Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" for the 3rd time and am more intrigued
than ever. I think he may really be onto something. That being said,
I'd like to learn what other information affirming/falsifying others may
have regarding Bicameral Hypothesis.

Prof. Jaynes' hypothesis includes the following:

1) Consciousness as we think of it today is a relatively recent
phenomenon, approximately 2-3 thousand years.

2) The people who built most of the ancient cultures we have evidence
of were unconscious and more akin to modern schitzophrenics, i.e.
they frequently, if not continually, heard and obeyed auditory
and visual hallucinations in one side of their brain that had
originated in the other. Dr. Jaynes calls this mentality Bicameral.

3) A necessary condition for the emergence of consciousness is language and
that the emergence of consciousness is not due to new biological

Jayne's realizes how counter-intuitive his thesis is so he begins slowly by
clearly and systematically showing what consciousness IS NOT. He then
assembles evidence from many disciplines with an emphasis on the earliest
written records we have in order to detect the transition between the BICAMERAL
mentality and modern mentality.

In the interest of brevity I have necessarily omitted dozens of equally
important features of Dr. Jaynes hypothesis as well as what appears to be
remarkable evidence in their favor. My goal is to learn what current work
if any is going on in this area, amass more data pro and con, and to hopefully
at some point start a thread and/or newsgroup on the topic.

Happy New Year to All!

Tom Bevington