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How Did Everyone Hear The Same God?
http://www.julianjaynes.org/jjsforum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=922
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Author:  ConsciousSeth [ Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:59 am ]
Post subject:  How Did Everyone Hear The Same God?

This might belong somewhere else, but I've been searching for an answer and can't seem to find one. One of the things nagging at me since I started reading Origin is how, if everyone was hearing the voice of a god that existed solely in their head, did they (those gods) coordinate their intent into group action. Put another way in a review I was reading:

“What is not very clearly explained (a serious gap in his theory) is how all the voices in these "bicameral civilizations," as he calls them, worked in harmony.” -- Evelyn Uyemura

Is that addressed somewhere? Where can I find the answer. It bugs me more and more the more I read.

Author:  Jimbean [ Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How did everyone hear the same god?

Jaynes answers this throughout the book.

Author:  ConsciousSeth [ Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How did everyone hear the same god?

Okay, so he comes back to this in later chapters? Good. Thanks. It's a compelling theory, but this part was hanging me up.

Author:  Moderator [ Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How did everyone hear the same god?

I think this is a point of confusion for a lot of people. What you have to remember is that these were strictly organized hierarchical societies. Only the high priests heard the voices of the great gods. These commands -- to build a temple, start a war, etc. -- were then communicated verbally down the hierarchy. The evidence suggests that the average individual likely would only hallucinate his personal god, who would advise him in his own everyday matters.

The larger decisions of the community were communicated through language. We see this in Mesopotamia for example with the priests hallucinating the commands of the great gods by sleeping in the temple and experiencing hallucinatory or bicameral dreams. This direction could then be communicated to others. Because of the way the societies were organized, there was no need for everyone to hallucinate the same gods, or the same commands.

Another way to think about it is that most day-to-day behavior is and was habitual, and the gods took the role of introspection during decision points. In larger matters, individuals followed the established order of the society as dictated by the great gods to the king or high priests. I hope that helps to clarify the issue.

Author:  ConsciousSeth [ Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How did everyone hear the same god?

That does help clarify the issue, thank you. I had certainly read it more as a society filled with people all taking direction from their own personal gods, who then, somehow, managed to decide to work together as a cohesive group. It makes much more sense (and seems more in keeping with history) that people would assume the ruler/king/god was getting direction and then communicating it downward.

I do wonder, then, what the impression of the average person might be when they hear one of these voices. If they know god talks to the king, and then god talks to them, would they feel an elevated sense of importance? What happens when an average person hears a voice that contradicts the direction from the king? Surely individual thought, conscious or not, realized as such or not, must have existed.

It is the likelihood of contradictory thought/hallucinations that troubles me. Perhaps it was rare. Perhaps it was dismissed by the individual or punished by the group. But I have to think that if 1000 people are told by their king (and his god) to build something or go to war or something, at least a handful of them must have received contradictory instruction (don't to that) from their own god/hallucination/conscience. And I wonder how that would have been interpreted by the individual.

Beyond that, what made a king a king? Why is his god better than my god? But then again, like you said, these were strict hierarchies, so I imagine that such thought was probably dealt with harshly.

I wonder what triggered the hallucination of a personal god vs a societal god.

--Seth

Author:  martinem [ Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How did everyone hear the same god?

I'm thinking that a bicameral person in a bicameral society would hear several imperative voices; from their personal god, from their king-god and sometimes directly from one of the great gods. The conflicts that could occur constitutes the old mythologies, whose function are manuals for how to deal whith such problems.

Author:  ConsciousSeth [ Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How did everyone hear the same god?

I think you're right: the bicameral person in the bicameral society would probably be hearing many "gods." The parts that sends my mind spinning is when you consider that a regular person hearing the king-god, and the king-god hearing that god are still not, of course, hearing the same god. Just two individual hallucinations that they have both decided come from the same source (which they don't). So it puts a lot of weight on society as a whole to correctly align their individual voices with the voices of other individuals in a way that seems cohesive rather than contradictory. I suppose it is not too far off from how we all collectively decide what "red" is without being able to prove that what we each experience as "red" is the same thing. Individual perception gets reconciled with the collective perception for the sake of communication and function within a group. The decision layer makes that very complex, but very interesting.

Author:  martinem [ Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How did everyone hear the same god?

My picture of the situation in a bicameral society is that there is a strict hierarchy and chain of command; the king gets orders from some great god and advice from his personal gods when in distress about how to follow them. He then gives orders to his subordinates who more or less "records" his masters voice which reminds him more or less continouosly of what to do. It might even have been so that the kings orders were somehow stored in the right brain for the left to consult (unconsciously of corse) when not knowing what to do. When he (the subordinate) have problems carrying out his tasks, his personal god might come in helping him.
This can be seen as an important mechanism for a how to orchestrate complex social cooperation in a society of nonconscious people, before shame (and later guilt) came inte work as "the social emotion" (as Wilkinson puts it).
The voice hallucinations don't have to have been totally random or confabulating as they are with some schizofrenics today. They could have been well coordinated orders.

Author:  icebear [ Mon May 11, 2015 6:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How Did Everyone Hear The Same God?

ConsciousSeth wrote:
This might belong somewhere else, but I've been searching for an answer and can't seem to find one. One of the things nagging at me since I started reading Origin is how, if everyone was hearing the voice of a god that existed solely in their head, did they (those gods) coordinate their intent into group action. Put another way in a review I was reading:

“What is not very clearly explained (a serious gap in his theory) is how all the voices in these "bicameral civilizations," as he calls them, worked in harmony.” -- Evelyn Uyemura

Is that addressed somewhere? Where can I find the answer. It bugs me more and more the more I read.


How Did Everyone Hear The Same God?

That's only a problem if you insist that that the voices in question were always just auditory hallucinations.....

Author:  Moderator [ Wed May 20, 2015 2:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How Did Everyone Hear The Same God?

So for purposes of clarification, that is definitely Jaynes's position. He did not appeal to any supernatural or mystical explanations for the voices.

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