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

The Tao Te Ching and New World Bicameralism
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Author:  lenny52682 [ Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:51 am ]
Post subject:  The Tao Te Ching and New World Bicameralism

I have never encountered an article which applies Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory to Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching. I read the Tao long before I ever encountered Jaynes's work. However, as I was reading the OC, I could not help but think of the Tao. I did not see the Tao mentioned in the OC but it would seem to me that Lao Tzu's thoughts run parallel to many of the ideas contained within the OC. For example, Lao Tzu's notion of the "Great Integrity" seems consistent with notion of the bicameral mind or bicameral civilization. Furthermore, the Taoist idea of the "Great Disintegration" may very well represent the breakdown of the bicameral mind. In fact, it seems to me that the entire work may very well be an iconoclastic rejection of conscious civilization and a nostalgic yearning for the values and dispositions of nonconscious bicameral peoples. The writings of the Tao probably date back no later than the 6th Century BC so, it appears that the Oracles of ancient Greece and other remnants of bicameral times would have still been quite influential. However, although Jaynes comments a great deal on Western writings and artifacts, not much is said about Asia. Also, I have not encountered much about the civilizations of the Western Hemisphere who supposedly lost their bicameralism much later than those of the Eastern Hemisphere. Given the much more recent collapse of these bicameral societies, it would seem to me that archaeology would have an even greater body of artifacts to work with that indicated bicameralism among the Aztec, Mayan, and Incan peoples than the body of artifacts suggesting bicameralism among the peoples of the Eastern Hemisphere. Does anyone know of any articles or have and thoughts regarding Asian and New World civilizations and their applicability to the bicameral mind theory or, specifically, the evidence of bicameralism found in the Tao Te Ching?

Author:  Moderator [ Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Tao Te Ching and New World Bicameralism

The connection between Jaynes's theory and the Tao Te Ching is interesting and not something I've see anyone write on. It sounds like it would make a great topic for the newsletter.

As far as the transition from bicamerality to consciousness in Asia, Prof. Michael Carr, an expert in ancient Chinese history and linguistics, wrote a series of articles on this subject in the 1980s. These are available in the Member's Area.

Prof. Carr recently revised and updated his ideas in "The Shi 'Corpse/Personator' Ceremony in Early China," which was published in Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness.

The issue of bicameralism in Mesoamerican tribes is also very interesting, but complicated by the fact that they left few significant writings (or they were later destroyed). Lucien Lévy-Brühl's Primitive Mentality, which was part of Jaynes's source material, documents contact with tribes worldwide (including in the Americas) during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and shows clear evidence of vestiges of bicameralism. See the section on Pre-Literate Societies in this forum.

Author:  lenny52682 [ Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Request to submit a sample article

Moderator, I would like to request your permission to submit a sample article on the topic of the Tao Te Ching and its connection to bicameral theory. I see several points of agreement between the OC and the Tao. I would like examine this topic further and see how my views are received. Please let me know if this is possible.

Author:  Moderator [ Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Tao Te Ching and New World Bicameralism

Yes please do. Just submit an outline to the newsletter editors (contact info is on the Newsletter page).

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