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The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, (original 1976; edition 1976)

by Julian Jaynes

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Member:Smethers
Title:The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,
Authors:Julian Jaynes
Info:Houghton Mifflin (1976), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes (1976)

  1. 20
    Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited by Marcel Kuijsten (mkuijsten)
  2. 00
    Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher (chmod007)
    chmod007: The first few chapters of Through The Language Glass talk about color as a cultural construct, drawing upon 19th century inquiries into the works of Homer and his seeming indifference to the finer hues of the spectrum. The beginning of TOOCITBOTBM starts with a similar exploration of ancient conceptions (or lack thereof) of consciousness, supported by linguistic evidence.… (more)
  3. 00
    In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life by Robert Kegan (nnii)
    nnii: Both extremely ambitious and interesting books on human cognition, one in the archaic period and one in the modern period.
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It's stunt theory, pure and simple. A fairly hefty catalogue could be made of Jaynes' reach exceeding his grasp, but you don't go to an Evel Knievel show and complain about reckless driving - you go to gawp at an act of staggering audaciousness. Sure, maybe in this case Jaynes missed the landing ramp and ended up crumpled in a heap, but that doesn't mean everybody didn't have a damn good time. ( )
  mattresslessness | Feb 6, 2014 |
A compelling thesis that left me intrigued if not overwhelmingly convinced. Jaynes certainly provides for an interesting reading of the Iliad. And it definitely makes me want to go back and peruse the Bible, an urge I can't say I've had that often in my life.

One of my favorite things about the book was Jaynes' writing style -- eminently approachable and humble, as if he was freely admitting that he doesn't have that good of a case. I can appreciate that. Of course, when he then proceeded to rely on the evidence he had just discarded as weak, the book got a little difficult to swallow.

I think the most convincing part of his entire theory for me is about the schizophrenics. There really is no good theory for why they behave the way they do, and positing a flexible genetic spectrum where some people (wacked-out schizos) are 100% bicameral and others are 0% provides as good of an explanation as any. I personally like to think that people we label as "crazy" might actually have something interesting to teach or tell us. ( )
  blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
Jaynes argues that consciousness, and self consciousness, are recent cultural developments. His argument has been comprehensively critiqued, debunked and dismissed. It remains, however, a marvellously stimulating book, filled with sharp insights, which will survive many of the well founded, and tedious, objections of his critics. Take and enjoy it as a stimulant to the imagination and as an enjoyable tour of Homeric and other ancient literature. ( )
2 vote LeaderElliott | Sep 26, 2012 |
Origin of Consciousness, Julian Jaynes. Human consciousness is a learned process brought into being out of earlier hallucinatory mentality. "learned process" dubious - Egyptian princess Ankhesenamiin offered the kingship to enemy empire Hittite prince. Thought provoking anyway. ( )
  edwbennett | May 26, 2012 |
I finished this book several months ago and have been since attempting to figure out how I would review it.

Whether the book's thesis concerning the origin of consciousness is true or not, it presents a compelling and original view of how ancient humans thought. The author readily admits the difficulty in confirming his theory; but I did find what evidence there was to be good.

This book has also radically changed my views and extended my understanding of religion. ( )
2 vote math_foo | Dec 28, 2011 |
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O, what a world of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind!
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Men have been conscious of the problem of consciousness almost since consciousness began.
And the feeling of a great uninterrupted stream of rich inner experiences, now slowly gliding through dreamy moods, now tumbling in excited torrents down gorges of precipitous insight, or surging evenly through our nobler days, is what it is on this page, a metaphor for how subjective consciousness seems to subjective consciousness.
For if we ever achieve a language that has the power of expressing everything, then metaphor will no longer be possible. I would not say, in that case, my love is like a red, red rose, for love would have exploded into terms for its thousands of nuances, and applying the correct term would leave the rose metaphorically dead.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618057072, Paperback)

At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes's 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:35 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes's 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. "When Julian Jaynes . . . speculates that until late in the twentieth millennium b.c. men had no consciousness but were automatically obeying the voices of the gods, we are astounded but compelled to follow this remarkable thesis." -- John Updike The New Yorker… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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