Julian Jaynes Society Discussion Forum: Exploring Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind Theory since 1997

Reflections Ch. 7 - The Self as Interiorized Social Relat..
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Author:  Moderator [ Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:27 am ]
Post subject:  Reflections Ch. 7 - The Self as Interiorized Social Relat..

The Self as Interiorized Social Relations: Applying a Jaynesian Approach to Problems of Agency and Volition by Brian J. McVeigh

Post a reply in this section to discuss this chapter or pose a question to the author.

Author:  erikweijers [ Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:07 pm ]
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I liked this chapter. It starts exploring at a point at which Jaynes simply had to carry on. Besides, it restates some points of Jaynes. I think to restate is always good for mental flexibility and understanding. For example, I liked the comparison of the self as a "personal toolkit of command and control 'inside a person’s head’" (p. 214). I think the social origin of the self is rightly stressed by McVeigh.

Good that Vygotsky is mentioned, his name had come up while reading The Origin and I had thought it strange that he was not even in Jaynes’s index. Consider this quote, which is included in McVeigh’s chapter: It pictures the child’s decision making process as fully external, the child "being the locus of the action, both its subject and its object at once." Nice.

I liked the dimensions of the self: control/under control and interior/exterior. They seem to be a good starting point (or even ending point?) to classify mentalities through the ages and even within the present cultures.

I loved the vivid illustrations of these dimensions, partly derived from anthropological literature. It got me thinking and I will soon check out some of the books of McVeigh’s reference list.

I started wondering if these dimensions of mentalities (control/under control and interior/exterior) could also be used as dimensions in personality tests of individuals? As fine-tuning differences between individuals in a broad cultural scheme? As alternatives for the Big Five, so to speak?

The susceptibility to hypnosis-scale (I think something like this exists) could then nicely be integrated in a broader scheme. Persons would then vary to the degree in which they can shift their locus of control from internal to external. If I understand McVeigh right?[/i]

Author:  bjmcveigh [ Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:43 am ]
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Thank you, erikweijers, for your kind words about my chapter. It is always gratifying to hear that someone actually understood a very difficult topic.

If I may comment on some of erikweijers' points. It seems that an important element of the "dimensions of the self" is spatiality (exterior/interior), which is a universal in conceptualizations of psyche. Note the huge role that mind-body dualism has played in Western philosophical debates.

As for the dimensions of mentalities being used in personality tests of individuals, I have to say I'm not sure at this point, but it is certainly worth considering. However, in the case of hypnosis, it seems very clear that there are individual differences to susceptibility, and this is related to the external/internal control dimension.

Author:  rheiman [ Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 7 - The Self as Interiorized Social Relations

In "Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness", in the chapter "The Self as Interiorized Social Relations", McVeigh states:

"Here allow me to stress that I am not suggesting that in today's world there are groups of people whose mentality is distinct from our own". (his italics). pg. 217.

I am not claiming that there are such people - but, if the possibility exists, then let it be addressed by science like any other topic. If the possibility does NOT exist, then let McVeigh explain why this is so. My impression is that McVeigh was worried about accusations of racism. I say let science lead us where it may and let facts be our guiding light. Let not science be a popularity contest.

Jaynes implies, in "The Origin", that pre-Columbian American peoples may well have been bicameral. Might that idea be offensive to some people? No doubt. But this does not debunk the theory.

On a similar note, I've long considered the possibility that, among the Aborigines of Australia, their "Dream-Time" may be an allusion to their bicameral times. In fact, I was surprised that Jaynes did not even mention this possibility in his book. Any thoughts on this?

Author:  Moderator [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 7 - The Self as Interiorized Social Relations

I agree. I know anthropologists in general are highly sensitive to charges of racism. I've heard that just being seen reading a book by early authors such as Lévy-Bruhl could cause one to be viewed as a racist by other anthropology students (or professors) in the highly politically correct period of that discipline.

As consciousness is both learned and a package of different features (analog 'I' narratizing in a mind-space, spatialization of time, etc.), it stands to reason that it varies among both different individuals and different cultures. Children raised without language such as "Genie" and others are an obvious example.

Jaynes was asked this in various interviews and he also generally chose not to address the question.

It's an open question why Jaynes did not discuss tribes in general to a greater degree in The Origin. I think part of it had to be the academic climate of the 70s, which was very much forcing a view of mental homogeneity among all living humans. The other factor was the publisher felt the book was getting too long and that additional material should be saved for a second volume. Jaynes did write a chapter titled "The Mind of the Tribe" that was to be included in his second book that never materialized. (For the story of this and other unpublished chapters please see the newsletter.)

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