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kmtrowbr · 2022-07-19 · Original thread
It seems crazy to say but I think it may all boil down to a massive influx of inexperienced readers. That plus the fact that most content on on the internet is not to be taken quite at face value.

Counterintuitively I believe there are more people reading and communicating textually than ever before. Way more! That would be good except they are doing it all via the Internet which is an absolute free for all of weaponized content, created for commercial or political purposes.

Critical reading and thinking skills are needed to navigate the internet.


This book is kind of funny: [The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind]( ... but it is good for hypothesizing about how consciousness has evolved. The relevant part to this discussion is when he writes about people literally being driven insane by the birth of writing. They were just unable to integrate the new influx of information quickly enough. Imagine your dog for example, learning to read. It would be quite the experience for poor Fido.

The printing press, in time, caused the reformation, the enlightenment, etc. But it was a bumpy road along the way.

My point is that, everyone having the internet in their pocket will have a larger impact than anyone anticipates today.

JackFr · 2020-08-20 · Original thread
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

ThomPete · 2015-06-07 · Original thread
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

I found it on this list:

Where also the following books some of which I read to (Vehicles is really good) can be found:

The White Goddess - Robert Graves

Graves' grammar of poetic myth works at so many levels at the same time that I can't keep track of them all. This is not a book, this is a neurosis you can borrow. Druidic power to the nerds.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind - Julian Jaynes

Never mind the bulky title. The theory of Jaynes seems preposterous at first: before man was conscious he would not stop and think when making a decision, instead he would literally hear a voice telling him what to do. When life became too complicated this faculty broke down, but not in an instant. Religion is a by-product of this neuro-catastrophe. Jaynes however knows to make use of historic material in such a way that in the course of his argument he becomes plausible! If you don't trust me on this, trust Daniel Dennett.

The Ghost of Chance - William S. Burroughs

Burroughs was a great admirer of Jaynes and here he uses the bicameral image of two dividing brain spheres as a metaphor for the divide between peaceful lemur on Madagascar and the war-mongering chimpanzee on the African mainland as a reminder that human evolution could have taken a better turn.

Ancient Evenings - Norman Mailer

This book, the only lengthy novel in this list, I first looked up because Burroughs referenced it as his inspiration for 'The Western Lands'. When I noticed it starts with my favourite Yeats quote I knew I needed to read this. Even though Burroughs could never have written it like this, at times it is more Burroughs then Burroughs himself. It is the autobiography of a Ka, the lowliest soul of the seven souls of the ancient Egyptians, which makes for unusual reading. Especially because Mailer uses an uncensored version of Egyptian mythology which, to put it mildly, differs from the version you get of it from the National Geographic. The Egyptians practised sex magic with the stamina of a bonobo. Mailer makes Aleister Crowley look like a prudish schoolboy. This is the boldest attempt to recreate a radically different mind from ours that I know of, and does so successfully. The novel as the creation of an artificial consciousness. At the same time it doubles as an All American Novel (yuk).

The Mind in the Cave - David Lewis-Williams

Palaeolithic Psychedelia anyone? Close your eyes, place a finger on both of your eyelids and press gently. What you see is the origin of all art, you only need to look at rock-art with a guide like Lewis-Williams to see it.

The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry - Ernest Fennolosa

Edited by Ezra Pound, the most spectacular misunderstanding of language ever to be reprinted. It reads excellent and it gives us a language (Chinoiserie-Chinese) that does not exist in this world but should exist in a better world.

Vehicles - Valentino Braitenberg

I have read so much stuff relating to Cybernetics, AI, emergent systems and self-organization that I am totally saturated with it. The material itself is exciting but the professional obligation of science to be dull gets on my nerves. But this is an exception, wonderfully written and illustrated with funky little drawings. Vehicles is a tiny book but its size is deceptive. This introduction to synthetic psychology describes a number of simple responsive vehicles that with each new feature became aware of the world around them a good deal more. Each new vehicle is a new mind.

The Coleridge Notebooks.

Charles Lamb said he loved to lend his books to ‘Poet, Metaphysician, Bard’ Coleridge because he would return them with annotations more interesting then the book itself. Samuel Taylor Coleridge had a mind that was free, discursive, unruly and truly original. His notebooks record the flow of his thoughts as if you are sitting next to him. Every now and then I dip into this and always come out with some gem I never saw before. Get the Seamus Perry edition of this. Get a copy of the Road to Xanadu by Livingstone-Lowes for extra enjoyment.

ThomPete · 2015-04-09 · Original thread
"The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind"– Julian Jaynes

Either the theory is crazy or it's one of the most groundbreaking discoveries in newer history.

JackFr · 2015-01-21 · Original thread
No one seems to address the very germane question of whether consciousness is separable from language, or rather communication more broadly. Is it possible to have language, and not be conscious? Is it possible to be conscious and not have language?

Though no one takes Julian Jaynes seriously these days, but I think his ideas of the development of language preceding consciousness are as good as any other theories I've read.

There are some theories that fall into a third category of "unlikely, hard to prove, probably false but intensely fascinating." A good example is Julian Jaynes's The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind [1], which Richard Dawkins describes as:

"A book that is as strange as its title suggests. It is one of those books that is either complete rubbish or a work of consummate genius, nothing in between! Probably the former, but I'm hedging my bets."[2]

By the way, the Wikipedia page about Jaynes' book uses part of that quotation, but cuts off the last sentence.

Dawkins provides a good summary of the book:

"Jaynes notes that many people perceive their own thought processes as a kind of dialogue between the 'self and another internal protagonist inside the head. Nowadays we understand that both 'voices' are our own - or if we don't we are treated as mentally ill...

"Jaynes's suggestion is that some time before 1000 BC people in general were unaware that the second voice - the Gilbert Pinfold voice - came from within themselves. They thought the Pinfold voice was a god: Apollo, say, or Astarte or Yahweh or, more probably, a minor household god, offering them advice or orders. Jaynes even located the voices of the gods in the opposite hemisphere of the brain from the one that controls audible speech. The 'breakdown of the bicameral' mind was, for Jaynes, a historical transition. It was the moment in history when it dawned on people that the external voices that they seemed to be hearing were really internal. Jaynes even goes so far as to define this historical transition as the dawning of human consciousness. There is an ancient Egyptian inscription about the creator god Ptah, which describes the various other gods as variations of Ptah's 'voice' or 'tongue'. Modern translations reject the literal 'voice' and interpret the other gods as 'objectified conceptions of [Ptah's] mind'. Jaynes dismisses such educated readings, preferring to take the literal meaning seriously. The gods were hallucinated voices, speaking inside people's heads. Jaynes further suggests that such gods evolved from memories of dead kings, who still, in a manner of speaking, retained control over their subjects via imagined voices in their heads. [2]


[2]: (page 392)

jwhitney · 2010-12-12 · Original thread
"Concurring view" indeed, not an experimental study. What a weird thing for them to cite!
anigbrowl · 2010-05-03 · Original thread
If you are interested in the philosophical implications of this, then the following book is a favorite of mine (and may have indirectly inspired this research).

anigbrowl · 2009-08-15 · Original thread
A speculative work which may shed some light on this phenomenon is Julian Jaynes' The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind - and well-summarized at - although the abstract does not even come close to the experience of reading Jaynes' book.

I am disappointed at the dismissive comments; perhaps those skimming he article failed to note Taylor's comment that 'religion is a story the left brain tells the right brain', and that she is capable enough to teach neuroanatomy at Indiana University's medical school - if she is not up to or interested in performing as much academic research, she has hardly become an anti-scientist.

It's quite possible to be a good materialist and still enjoy a spiritual dimension to life without evoking immaterial agencies or phenomena to do so; the different cerebration that seems to take place in the subordinate (usually right) hemisphere doesn't indicate less 'processing power' or 'buggy software'; it just processes incoming information differently, and the idea that there is nothing worthwhile to be learned this way is arguably foolish.

Indeed, there's a faulty syllogism at work here: Scatterbrained mystics make unscientific claims about the right brain. Taylor makes positive reports of improved mental state, following a temporary, documented inhibition of her left hemisphere. Therefore, Taylor is a scatterbrained mystic whose claims are unscientific.

I don't see Taylor making any claims about immaterial causes or phenomena, either in this article or on her website, any more than the literature of Zen does, or any of the serious research into psychotropic drugs.

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