The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian JaynesAt the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jayness still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only three thousand years ago and is still developing. The implications of this revolutionary scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion -- and indeed our future.
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (NR01)
Overview of Julian Jaynes's Theory
Bicameralism the condition of being divided into "two-chambers" is a hypothesis in psychology that argues that the human mind once operated in a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be "speaking", and a second part which listens and obeys — a bicameral mind. The term was coined by Julian Jaynes , who presented the idea in his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind ,  wherein he made the case that a bicameral mentality was the normal and ubiquitous state of the human mind as recently as 3, years ago, near the end of the Mediterranean bronze age. Jaynes uses governmental bicameralism as a metaphor to describe a mental state in which the experiences and memories of the right hemisphere of the brain are transmitted to the left hemisphere via auditory hallucinations. The metaphor is based on the idea of lateralization of brain function although each half of a normal human brain is constantly communicating with the other through the corpus callosum. The metaphor is not meant to imply that the two halves of the bicameral brain were "cut off" from each other but that the bicameral mind was experienced as a different, non-conscious mental schema wherein volition in the face of novel stimuli was mediated through a linguistic control mechanism and experienced as auditory verbal hallucination. Bicameral mentality would be non-conscious in its inability to reason and articulate about mental contents through meta-reflection, reacting without explicitly realizing and without the meta-reflective ability to give an account of why one did so.
Graham Little, editor. The Origin of Consciousness. Northcote: Self Help Guides Limited. ISBN: The origin of consciousness is one the most intractable mysteries about the human mind, because of its intrinsic conceptual and theoretical difficulties.
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Conflict of interest statement
In January of Princeton University psychologist Julian Jaynes — put forth a bold new theory of the origin of consciousness and a previous mentality known as the bicameral mind in the controversial but critically acclaimed book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes was far ahead of his time, and his theory remains as relevant today as when it was first published. Jaynes asserts that consciousness did not arise far back in human evolution but is a learned process based on metaphorical language. Prior to the development of consciousness, Jaynes argues humans operated under a previous mentality he called the bicameral 'two-chambered' mind. In the place of an internal dialogue, bicameral people experienced auditory hallucinations directing their actions, similar to the command hallucinations experienced by many people who hear voices today. These hallucinations were interpreted as the voices of chiefs, rulers, or the gods.
It renders whole shelves of books obsolete. I'm not quite sure what to make of this new territory; but its expanse lies before me and I am startled by its power. Even if he marshals arguments against it he has to think about matters he has never thought of before, or, if he has thought of them, he must think about them in contexts and relationships that are strikingly new. At the heart of this book is the revolutionary idea that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but is a learned process brought into being out of an earlier hallucinatory mentality by cataclysm and catastrophe only 3, years ago and still developing. The implications of this new scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion - and indeed, our future. In the words of one reviewer, it is "a humbling text, the kind that reminds most of us who make our livings through thinking, how much thinking there is left to do. Presents a theory of the bicameral mind which holds that ancient peoples could not "think" as we do today and were therefore "unconscious," a result of the domination of the right hemisphere; only catastrophe forced mankind to "learn" consciousness, a product of human history and culture and one that issues from the brain's left hemisphere.