X-Message-Number: 11891
Date: Sat, 05 Jun 1999 01:08:31 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: :Consciousness and the bicameral mind.

Are we conscious? Will some future more-than-human beings who used to be
human think humans of today were conscious? Will our future hopefully
immortal and more-than-human selves even think we were conscious? I like to
think the answer to all three questions is/will be "yes" but certainly I
have no proof. Anyway, I raise this issue because there are those who think
"real" consciousness even in humans is a recent phenomenon historically.
Some of you may remember the Jaynes book on the "bicameral mind" of some
years ago that advanced this hypothesis. Here is what I found at web site

"The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by
Julian Jaynes.

"Jaynes proposes that until about 3,000 years ago, people pretty much lived
life unconsciously, in a fog, listening to the admonishing "voice" of their
right-brain, thinking they were hearing and obeying the voices of gods.
Consciousness, as we know it, arose during the thousand years before Christ,
concurrent with the development of language. He makes his case through
ancient literature and architecture. On the surface, his theory seems
incredible, but he makes a compelling argument.

"If you read this entire book, it will change the way you look at the world. 

I did read this book in the '80s, but I didn't find it convincing, because
it doesn't seem to tally with what has been observed in more recent times of
people from primitive cultures. With no doubt a few exceptions, they don't
seem to wander about in a fog being instructed by their right hemispheres
and thinking gods are talking to them.

Mike Perry

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