Saturday, July 16, 2011

Julian Jaynes Bicameral Breakdown: General Notes

Julian Jaynes Bicameral Breakdown Series, 1 of 8

[The Iliad] There is no evidence of consciousness; instead, the gods take place of consciousness. Man doesn’t know he is conscious; he is not aware; his feelings and decisions come from god (p72).

[The Bible] Amos does not consciously think before he speaks, in fact, he does not think as we do at all; his thinking is done for him (p296).

The function of the gods was chiefly the guiding and planning of action in novel situations. The gods size up problems and organize action according to an ongoing pattern or purpose resulting in intricate bicameral civilizations, fitting all the disparate part together, planting times, harvest times, the sorting out of commodities, all the vast putting together of things in a grand design, and the giving of directions to the neurological man in his verbal and analytical sanctuary in the left hemisphere. We might thus predict that one residual function of the right hemisphere today would be an organizational one (p117-118)

Individuals do not respond to even basic physiological needs except within the whole pattern of the group’s activity. A thirsty baboon, for example, does not leave the group and go seeking water; it is the whole group that moves, or none. Thirst is satiated only within the patterned activity of the group (p127).

The gods were in no sense a ‘figment of the imagination’ of anyone. They were man’s volition. They occupied his nervous system and transmitted experience into articulated speech which then ‘told’ the man what to do (p202).

Bicameral Timeline

2000-1000 BC: man stops hearing voices

1000-0 BC: oracle and prophets die away

0-1000 AD: sayings and hearings preserved in sacred text

1000-2000 AD: sacred text loses its authority

Literary examples of Bicameralism Theory (vs. Subjective Consciousness)

Chinese-Confucious (SC)

India-Veda (bicam) / Upanishads (SC)

Hebrew-Bible: Amos (bicam) / Ecclesiastes (SC)

Greek-The Iliad (bicam) / The Odyssey (SC)

By 400 B.C. bicameral prophecy is dead (p312)

As the stag pants after the waterbrooks,

So pants my mind after you, O gods!

My mind thirsts for gods! Living Gods!

When shall I come face to face with gods?

-Psalm 42

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes, 1976.

ISBN 0-395-20729-0

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