Quotes from Chapter 2 – Mystic and Invisible Forces continued...
Here Levy-Bruhl quotes a missionary that studied primitive tribes. References to "the devil" can be viewed as the missionary's interpretation of the bicameral hallucinated voice:
"... 'with these undesirable denizens of the spirit-world,' says Father Jette, 'the Ten'a may be said to have an almost continual intercourse. They hold themselves liable to see or hear them at any time. Any unusual noise, any fancy of their imagination, quickly assumes the shape of a devil manifestation. If a black, water-soaked log, under the action of the current, bobs up within their view, and disappears, they have seen a nekedzaltura. If they hear a whistling in the woods, somewhat unlike the cries of birds that are familiar to them, a nekedzaltura is calling them. No day passes in an Indian camp without someone reporting that he or she has heard or seen something of the kind ... 'The manifestations of the devil's presence are as familiar to the Ten'a as the blowing of the wind or the singing of birds'" (p. 66).
"In another passage this same missionary had already remarked: 'The intensity as well as the extent of their devil-belief is beyond our conceptions ... Hence, to hear them talk, one would think that they are constantly in touch with the devil, and that they have seen it hundreds of times'" (pgs. 66–67).
"Speaking of a Bantu tribe, a careful observer tells us 'It is of the utmost importance for students of the sociology of these people to try and realize the reality and closeness of the influence of the ancestral spirits upon the daily life of the native, and unless an ethnologist has been in daily contact with the people, and striven to understand their point of view, it is difficult for the weight of this to be felt to a full extent'" (p. 67).
"The Jesuit Fathers of New France often laid stress upon the position which the dead occupied in the minds of the Indians" (p. 67).
In this next quote from Levy-Bruhl we see the idea among primitive tribes of slow fading away of the hallucinated voice after someone dies. This is similar to what has been described by Jaynes and also Michael Carr, who described the phenomenon among the ancient Chinese:
"In short, as I have shown in another place, the dead are alive, at least for a certain time; they are living beings of a different kind from ourselves, beings in whom certain participations are ruptured or at least impaired, but who only by slow degrees cease to belong to their social group. To understand the primitives' mentality, we must first of all rid our minds of our own idea of death and the dead, and try to replace it by that which dominates their collective representations" (p. 68 ).
"... 'it is above all the spirits of the dead who intervene in men's lives to help or injure them. Therefore men appeal to their ancestors for support ... they present them with offerings, sacrifice to them, and so on'" (p. 76).
"In communities which are rather more civilized than the preceding, such as the Bantus and other South African tribes, for instance, the relations between the living and the dead are no less close, but they appear to be better organized, and they tend to create a kind of ancestor-worship ... The dead are alive, there is no doubt of that" (p. 78 ).
"In a general way the dead, in varying degrees, form an integral part of the social group, and the individual member does not feel himself entirely separated from them" (p. 80).
"The trouble taken to retain connection with the itongo [spirit] is thus clearly shown, and this trouble is prompted by the feeling of power possessed by the spirit — a power upon which the health, prosperity, and the very life of the inhabitants of the village depend. As we have just seen, every ghost is not an itongo. The amahlosi do not all of them become amatongo, but only those who are dead chiefs; in the world of spirits the itongo occupies a rank which is superior to ordinary ihlosi. In addition to the amatongo, who are common to the tribe, each family has its special itongo. 'Our father, whom we know,' say they, 'is our whole life.' He is regarded as a kind of tutelary genius of the family. If it migrates, and the itongo does not show himself in the new home, they have to go and look for him. ..." (pgs. 82–83).
"'Thus, to the Zulu, side by side with the world of sense, there exists a world of spirits, which he imagines as continuing to live in close connection with the former, and which he fears all the more because these spirits, though unassailable by men, have the power of doing them harm at all times' ... Similar ideas and beliefs are found in Central and Western Africa" (pgs. 83–84).
"Besides those who have recently died and the dead whose memory is still green, whose features, disposition, and habits the survivors recall, with whom they converse in dreams, and even (if Miss Kingsley is to be believed) when wide awake, we have to take into account those more distant dead who disappeared long ago from among the living, but who nevertheless exercise considerable influence upon their fate" (p. 86).
"The all-pervading presence of spirits, witchcrafts, and enchantments ever threatening in the background, the dead so closely connected with the life of the living — this ensemble of representations is an inexhaustible source of emotion to the primitive, and it is to this that his mental activity owes its characteristic features" (p. 89).
On the primitive conception of time Levy-Bruhl writes (compare to Jaynes, i.e. the conception of time is an aspect of modern consciousness):
"Our idea of time seems to us to be a natural attribute of the human mind. But that is a delusion. Such an idea scarcely exists where primitive mentality is concerned, for that sees the direct causal relation between the given phenomenon and the extra-spatial occult power" (pgs. 93–94).
With regard to the primitive concept of space, Levy-Bruhl writes:
"In spite of appearances, homogeneous space is no more a natural datum of the human mind than homogeneous time. Undoubtedly the primitive moves in space exactly as we do; undoubtedly when he desires to throw his projectiles or to reach a distant goal, he knows as we do, and sometimes better than we do, how to calculate distances rapidly, to retrace paths, and so on. But action in space is one thing, and the idea of space quite another" (p. 95).
Levy-Bruhl on what might be thought of in Jaynesian terms the transition of primitives from the bicameral to the conscious mode of thinking:
"Thus it is that in primitive mentality, which is wholly mystic and prelogical, not only the data, but even the limits of experience fail to coincide with our own. Bergson's well-known theory which requires us to conceive of time as a homogeneous quantum, does not seem applicable to primitive mentality. It is only in races which are already somewhat developed, when the mystic preconnections become weak and tend to be dissociated, when the habit of paying attention to second causes and their effects is growing stronger, that space becomes homogeneous in the representations, and time tends to become so too. Thus the limits of our experience are sketched little by little, are strengthened and become fixed. Much later, when reflection leads us to make these ideas our own, we are tempted to believe that they are its constituent elements — innate, as the philosophers used to say. The observation and analysis of the collective representations of inferior races are far from confirming this hypothesis" (p. 96).
Last edited by Moderator on Fri Oct 19, 2007 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.