The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

By Julian Jaynes,

Book cover of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Book description

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…


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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Despite the rather off-putting title, I found this book really interesting. Written by a specialist psychologist, it presented a new theory about the way human thinking has developed from the earliest beginnings. I was particularly interested in his concept that ancient man ‘heard the voice of god’ inside his mind, but as ‘primitive’ humans became more individualised, the gods were heard less often, until they could no longer be heard at all. This resonates with the myths that in a Golden Age humankind ‘walked with God’ but as aeons passed, the gods retreated. At this juncture, people started to construct…

From Sarita's list on tarot archetypes and the I Ching.

To understand the bicameral mind, start with Princeton psychologist Julian Jaynes’s own explanation of his theory. Jaynes carefully walks readers through all of the historical, literary, archeological, psychological, and neuroscientific evidence for the bicameral mind the mentality that humans operated under prior to developing subjective consciousness. Understanding precisely how Jaynes defines consciousness — and why his narrow definition is so important — is absolutely critical to understanding his theory. You will also learn how vestiges of the bicameral mind have shaped our modern world. Bolstered by recent findings in neuroscience as well as other new evidence, Jaynes’s theory remains…

From Marcel's list on the bicameral mind.

Jaynes controversially suggested that humans were suddenly gripped by a radical transformation of the psyche in the Mediterranean-area Bronze Age, four thousand years ago, when our ancestors spontaneously experienced a kind of software upgrade inside their heads, resulting in them acquiring a new mechanism that operated their minds. This collective mind-storm resulted, some claim, in the collapse of many Bronze Age civilizations. Before this dramatic revolution of the psyche, humans possessed (according to Jaynes) the “double brain of bicameralism” – this meant that ancient humans, in their bicameral phase, had a fundamentally different mental state to that of people today.…

From Simon's list on the development of the human mind.

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