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Back in when he was a professor of psychology at Princeton, Julian Jaynes published a very controversial theory about the emergence of the human mind. Indeed, even today his theory of the "bicameral mind" remains a controversy. Rather than just harkening to behavioral psychology or brain biology, Jaynes presents his theory from the perspective of psycho-cultural history.
Jaynes provides extensive illustrations--ranging from Sumer, Ur, Babylon, Egyptian, Early Mycenean, Hebrew, and even Mayan and Asian cultures--that support his theory of the bicameral mind. But he mainly focuses on Mycenean Greek material--and it is this material which we will examine mostly in this post. Whether Achilles or Agamemnon, there was no sense of subjectivity. Rather they were men whom the gods pushed about like robots.
The gods sang epics through their lips. Jayne declares that these Iliadic heroes heard "voices," real speech and directions from the gods--as clearly as those diagnosed epileptic or schizophrenic today.
Jaynes stresses that the Iliadic man did not possess subjectivity as we do--rather "he had no awareness of his awareness of the world, no internal mind-space to introspect upon. Now what was this bicameral mind? Jaynes briefly discusses brain biology--in that there are three speech areas, for most located in the left hemisphere. They are: 1 the supplemental motor cortex; 2 Broca's area; and 3 Wernicke's area.
Jaynes focuses on Wernicke's area, which is chiefly the posterior part of the left temporal lobe. It is Wernicke's area that is crucial for human speech. Pursuing the bicameral mind, Jaynes focuses on the corpus callosum, the major inter-connector between the brain's hemispheres. In human brains the corpus callosum can be likened to a small bridge, a band of transverse fibers, only slightly more than one-eighth of an inch in diameter. This bridge "collects from most of the temporal lobe cortex but particularly the middle gyrus of the temporal lobe in Wernicke's area.
It is like thinking of the "two hemispheres of the brain almost as two individuals. Archaic humans were ordered and moved by the gods through both auditory hallucinations and visual hallucinations. The gods mainly "talked" to them--but sometimes "appeared," such as Athene appeared to Achilles. And "when visual hallucinations occur with voices, they are merely shining light or cloudy fog, as Thetis came to Achilles or Yahwey to Moses.
Jaynes believes in the mentality of the early Mycenean that volition, planning and initiative were literally organized with no consciousness whatsoever. Rather such volition was "told" to the individual--"sometimes with the visual aura of a familiar friend or authority figure or 'god,' or sometimes as a voice alone.
Now Jaynes thinks the great agricultural civilizations that spread over much of the Near East by b. These civilizations were rigid theocracies! They were reminiscent of the Queen Bee and the bee-hive. These bicameral societies reflected "hierarchies of officials, soldiers, or works, inventory of goods, statements of goods owed to the ruler, and particular to gods.
Jaynes contests that such theocracies were the only means for a bicameral civilization to survive. Circumventing chaos, these rigid hierarchies allowed for "lesser men hallucinating the voices of authorities over them, and those authorities hallucinating yet higher ones, and so" to kings and gods.
According to Julian Jaynes, "the idols of a bicameral world are the carefully tended centers of social control, with auditory hallucinations instead of pheromones. In these ancient bicameral societies the idol or the statue was literally the god, so says Jaynes.
It was usually the center of a temple complex. The size varied according to the importance of the god and, of course, the wealth of the city. In these theocracies the owner of the land was the divine idol--and the people were the tenants. The steward-king served the god by administrating the god's estates. According to cuneiform texts, the gods also enjoyed eating, drinking, music and dancing. They required beds for sleeping and connubial visits from other gods. They the statues were washed and dressed, driven around on special occasions.
Ceremony and ritual evolved around these idols. The collapse of the bicameral mind came slowly, it was a slow erosive breakdown. But Jaynes spotted the first serious indications of collapse by the time of Egypt's Middle Kingdom, around b.
Authority had started to crumble--and due to this Egypt had to re-unify itself, hence the Middle Kingdom. Jaynes considers that this slow collapse was caused by natural disasters, such as the Santorini volcanic explosion that devastated many Greek islands. Migration of different peoples into new areas disrupted the bicameral societies already in place.
Conquest over peoples by others resulted in further collapse. And writing gradually eroded the "auditory authority of the bicameral mind. Jaynes felt a real tipoff of this bicameral breakdown could be discerned in the Babylonian lines: "My god has forsaken me and disappeared, My goddess has failed me and keeps at a distance It was with this, according to Jaynes, that one could detect for the first time the mighty themes of the world religions: "Why have the gods left us?
Like friends who depart from us, they must be offended. Our misfortunes are our punishments for our offenses. We go down on our knees, begging to be forgiven. And then find redemption in some return of the word of a god. For Jaynes this ruin, this bitter bicameral breakdown led to the growth of subjective consciousness in Greece. Here we have wily Odysseus, the hero of many devices, a man of a "new mentality.
With the Golden Age of Greece, in the starstruck sixth century b. Consciousness In The Cosmos : Perspective of Mind: Julian Jaynes Back in when he was a professor of psychology at Princeton, Julian Jaynes published a very controversial theory about the emergence of the human mind.
Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind
Bicameralism [Note 1] 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.
Posted On 29 sep By erikweijers In English , most read , origin of consciousness. How did they make decisions and how did they reflect on their past? In other words: they had no subjective consciousness. It is a mind with two chambers, the mind that is divided in a god part and a human part.
Back in when he was a professor of psychology at Princeton, Julian Jaynes published a very controversial theory about the emergence of the human mind. Indeed, even today his theory of the "bicameral mind" remains a controversy. Rather than just harkening to behavioral psychology or brain biology, Jaynes presents his theory from the perspective of psycho-cultural history. Jaynes provides extensive illustrations--ranging from Sumer, Ur, Babylon, Egyptian, Early Mycenean, Hebrew, and even Mayan and Asian cultures--that support his theory of the bicameral mind. But he mainly focuses on Mycenean Greek material--and it is this material which we will examine mostly in this post. Whether Achilles or Agamemnon, there was no sense of subjectivity.