Westworld and the Bicameral Mind Theory: Season 1, Episode 6 – “The Adversary”

*Contains spoilers*

In Episode 6, the links to Julian Jaynes’s bicameral mind theory that have already been established continue.

Through her interaction with Felix the technician, Maeve continues on her path to discovering the nature of her reality and gaining consciousness.

Elsie makes reference to the “bicameral system,” telling Bernard: “That bicameral system you told me about … I think that’s what they used to hack the woodcutter. The voices the hosts have been hearing? I think someone’s been broadcasting to them. …. There’s still relays out there in the park, and it looks like someone turned one on.”

Elsie is getting closer to uncovering the nature of Arnold’s bicameral command hallucinations to the hosts:

“Theresa was using the old bicameral control system to reprogram the woodcutter. But she’s not the only one.  Someone else has been using the system for weeks to re-task hosts … these modifications are serious … ”

Next, we see Ford questioning the younger host version of himself. The boy reveals he heard a bicameral voice of Arnold telling him to kill his dog.

As a side note, many more people today experience hearing voices than is generally known, and many of those that do hear voices hear what’s called “command hallucinations” that direct their behavior — a vestige of our earlier bicameral mentality.

Finally, it appears that “someone” has already been altering Maeve’s code. Will increased overall intelligence lead to Maeve’s gaining consciousness? To what degree are intelligence and consciousness related?

My own view is that intelligence is necessary but insufficient. Intelligence is largely (but not entirely) genetic, whereas consciousness (as Jaynes defines it) in learned through language. To use the computer metaphor, our intelligence is predicated on our hardware whereas consciousness is like our operating system. And some of us appear to be running both the bicameral and conscious operating systems to some degree in parallel.

Author: Marcel Kuijsten

Marcel Kuijsten is Founder and Executive Director of the Julian Jaynes Society and has published three books on Julian Jaynes's theory: Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, The Julian Jaynes Collection, and Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness

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