Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Consciousness of Thunder

To refer to the bicameral man as having consciousness is to give an animal consciousness. It is the same as assigning to the lightning and the thunder a knowing of their own whereabouts and happenings. (Earlier I struck a tree in the forest, and then a house on Main St. …My thunder at around six o’clock this evening was tremendous). It’s not like that.

“It is very difficult to suspend the habit of projecting consciousness in thinking about ancient civilizations or even animals close to us or even in newborn infants.”

-Julian Jaynes. 1986. “Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind”, Canadian Psychology, 27, 128-148.

-found in Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, Jaynes Revisited... . M. Kuijsten (ed.), 2006.


  1. I am not familiar with Julian Hayne's book, but I did notice you Blog entry earlier this month on The Phenomenon of Man.

    As I understand him, Teilhard would grant any animal consciousness and even intelligence. What is unique to man is self-awareness and reflection.

    As for thunder, it is (tangential) energy which is transferred from one point to another and would not have "within" much less life or consciousness.

    But I could be wrong.

  2. Wow, thanks for the comment.

    Teilhard referes to pre-consciousness, or the germ of consciousness, that is inherent in all matter (as if an invisible partner to all things physical). Not until the advent of humans does it full manifest into consciousness proper.

    And yes, Jaynes makes it his objective forthright to distinguish between simple mental processes, such as learning (which even animals can do) and consciousness as self-awareness/the subjective-analog ‘I’/interior mindspace.