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 Post subject: Reflections Ch. 9 - The Oracles and Their Cessation
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:25 am 
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The Oracles and Their Cessation: A Tribute to Julian Jaynes by David C. Stove


Post a reply in this section to discuss this chapter with other readers.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:31 am 
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My copy of the book just came in today. :D
I've only skimmed it, and mainly have skimmed this chapter.

My impression is that this chapter is very uneven in quality. Sometimes Stove makes some perceptive comments, but sometimes he blows his credibility in a big way.

About the Stove's perceptive comments, I want to think a bit more before addressing them, but it is easy to jump in on some of the his weaknesses, so here goes:

Stove writes (p 292):

"There are whole huge parts or aspects of religion which do not figure at all in Jaynes's theory. One is what I do not shrink from calling the Velikovskian-astronomical part: for I am enough of an admirer of the late Immanuel Velikovsky to..."

Stop everything. No good can come of claiming to be any sort of admirer of Immanuel Velikovsky while giving a "tribute" to Jaynes. If Stove's point was that Jaynes doesn't address archaeoastronomy, he should mention some of the work of the respectable figures in the field, not the dubious ideas of Velikovsky.

Next, and perhaps related to his having Velikovsky on the brain, consider this statement by Stove (p. 270):

"This state of mind was brought to an end, in the 2nd millenium B.C., by some catastrophe: Jaynes hints at a catastrophe of extraterrestrial origin, but he is exceedingly vague about the whole matter."

Where is there a hint of a catastrophe of extraterrestrial origin to be found in Jaynes's The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind? Please point this out to me if it exists because I missed it. In chapter 3 (of Book II) "The Causes of Consciousness," in the section called "Eruption, Migration, Conquest" (beginning p. 212), Jaynes describes the eruptive explosion of the volcano at Thera (Santorini) and the subsequent collapse under the ocean (sic, he is referring to the Mediterranean Sea or the Aegean Sea) of "a good part of the Aegean people's land." Jaynes describes this event as accelerating the collapse of the bicameral mind. But this catastrophe is a geological catastrophe, not an extraterrestrial catastrophe. Stove seems to be confusing Velikovsky's extraterrestrial catastrophe scenario (which fundamentalists like to use to make a claim for the historicity of Noah's flood) with Jaynes's Thera catastrophe scenario.

Not good. In fact, very not good.

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Mark Zima

My blog (essays+forum) site is godmemes.com


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:37 pm 
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Hi Mark,

It's great to see you catching these points of error made by Stove so quickly (after just a skim). I was tempted to footnote them but decided to leave his chapter untouched (Stove is deceased).

I felt his thoughts in favor of the theory made it worth including despite some of his misconceptions. He's also one of the few people to write on the implications of Jaynes's theory for religion, which is such an interesting topic.

I'm glad you're using the forum to help clarify the parts where Stove got it wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 9 - The Oracles and Their Cessation
PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:47 pm 
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.


Last edited by Memento Mori on Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 9 - The Oracles and Their Cessation
PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:42 pm 
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Yes he misread or misremembered Jaynes on this point, probably confusing the Thera explosion with a meteor impact. Despite this confusion, I think Stove articulates the significance of the theory to the origin of religion better than anything I've seen.

When it comes to Julian Jaynes's theory, misconceptions are generally the rule, not the exception, which is why we've recently added the Myths vs. Facts page to the website.


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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 9 - The Oracles and Their Cessation
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:54 am 
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I just finished reading this chapter and, as others have pointed out, the criticisms of Jaynes should not be taken too seriously. I think it was, more than anything else, a tribute. As such it seems to have been written more out of emotion (and a lot of admiration) than out of cold, hard, science. That being said, I did not like the way he assumes (due to his own prejudices) that the theory must, somehow, be watered down or compromised. He writes (pg. 275):

These are some of the reasons why I cannot swallow Jaynes's theory whole...there are just too many connecting fibers in it, running in every direction, for me to be able to see where the surgery could begin with any hope of success


I get the impression that Stove either lacks the time or is too lazy to tackle each thread individually. If the theory is so original and Earth-shattering, as he says, then he certainly should have either spent the time to analyze it thoroughly or defer judgment.

Perhaps Jaynes and Stove are now sitting in Heaven debating the finer points of "The Origin". Angels waiting on them and all the time in the world.


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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 9 - The Oracles and Their Cessation
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:16 pm 
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Quote:
Perhaps Jaynes and Stove are now sitting in Heaven debating the finer points of "The Origin". Angels waiting on them and all the time in the world.


Hopefully this was meant sardonically as Stove was an atheist and the chapter is about the psychological origin of gods and religion! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Ch. 9 - The Oracles and Their Cessation
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:13 pm 
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Moderator wrote:
Quote:
Perhaps Jaynes and Stove are now sitting in Heaven debating the finer points of "The Origin". Angels waiting on them and all the time in the world.


Hopefully this was meant sardonically as Stove was an atheist and the chapter is about the psychological origin of gods and religion! :)


It's a concept I like to relish not only for its irony but because I've known intellectuals who have passed on and the concept of an endless and ideal arena for their thoughts appeals to me (even as an agnostic myself and even for atheists). Not that an idea gains any credence solely for its beauty but still, such ideas are tasty for the mind to churn them around like a candy. So I see no harm in indulging in such fantasies now and then even when it's difficult to recognize my intentions.


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