About Julian Jaynes

Born in West Newton, Massachusetts, Julian Jaynes did his undergraduate work at Harvard and McGill and received both his master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from Yale. After Yale, Jaynes spent several years in England working as an actor and playwright. Jaynes later returned to the states, and lectured in psychology at Princeton University from 1966 to 1990, teaching a popular class on consciousness for much of that time. In addition, he had numerous positions as Visiting Lecturer or Scholar in Residence in departments of philosophy, English, and archaeology and in numerous medical schools. Julian Jaynes was an associate editor of the internationally renowned journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences and on the editorial board of the Journal of Mind and Behavior.

Professor Julian Jaynes

Professor Julian Jaynes (1920–1997)

Julian Jaynes published widely, his earlier work focusing on the study of animal behavior and ethology, which eventually led him to the study of human consciousness. His more recent work culminated in 1976 in his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, a nominee for the National Book Award in 1978. Articles on Jaynes’s theory appeared in Time magazine and Psychology Today in 1977. Criticized by some and acclaimed by others as one of the most important books of the twentieth century, it remains as influential, controversial, and widely read today as when it was first published. Expanding on his theory, Jaynes published articles in a variety of journals such as Canadian PsychologyBehavioral and Brain SciencesThe History of Ideas, and Art/World — most of these articles have been reprinted in The Julian Jaynes Collection, along with other interviews and lectures.

Lectures & Honorary Doctorates

Professor Julian Jaynes

Julian Jaynes at his Prince Edward Island home
(From Richard Rhodes article in Omni,~1978)

Julian Jaynes was in high demand as a lecturer, and was frequently invited to lecture at conferences and symposiums. He was also invited as a guest lecturer at many universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Rutgers, Dalhousie, Wellesley, Florida State, the Universities of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Prince Edward Island, and Massachusetts at Amherst and Boston Harbor.

Julian Jaynes gave a lecture on consciousness and the self at the Yellow Springs Institute in Pennsylvania in June 1980. His theory was the subject of several conferences and symposiums. The first was the McMaster-Bauer Symposium on Consciousness at McMaster University in November 1983, which also featured discussion of the theory by Daniel Dennett, Jonathan Miller, and George Ojemann. In 1984 he was invited to give the plenary lecture at the Wittgenstein Symposium in Kirchberg, Austria. Jaynes gave six major lectures in 1985 and nine in 1986. Jaynes was an invited speaker at the “Exploring the Concept of the Mind” symposium, held at the University of Iowa in April 1985. A symposium on his theory was held at Harvard University in December 1988, and also included talks by Daniel Dennett and Willard Van Orman Quine. Later invited lectures include the Workshop on Consciousness at The Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice, Italy in 1991. Jaynes was awarded an honorary doctorate by Rhode Island College in 1979 and another from Elizabethtown College in 1985.

Retirement and Later Conferences

After he retired from teaching at Princeton University, Jaynes went to live at his home on Prince Edward Island. He died of a stroke on November 21, 1997 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Jaynes donated funding for scholarships and conferences to the University of Prince Edward Island. He also donated his extensive psychology library to the Psychology Department there. The Dr. Julian Jaynes Memorial Scholarship in Psychology was established at the University of Prince Edward Island to create a lasting memorial to a renowned psychologist and author, in tribute to his achievement, and in respect of his wish to support and encourage young people in the study of psychology. The Julian Jaynes Conference on Consciousness was organized by Professor Scott Greer and has featured speakers such as Daniel Dennett, Michael Gazzaniga, Richard Restak, Karl Pribram, and many others.

In June 2013, The Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies was held in Charleston, West Virginia. This was the largest conference entirely dedicated to Julian Jaynes’s theory on consciousness and the bicameral mind ever held. The multidisciplinary program featured 26 speakers over three full days, including keynote talks by Professor Roy Baumeister, Professor Merlin Donald, and Dr. Dirk Corstens, and was entirely dedicated to exploring various aspects of Jaynes’s theory. The conference brought together Jaynes enthusiasts from around the U.S. as well as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Selected Lectures and Appearances (partial list)

“Journey to Golgotha,” Play written by Julian Jaynes, debuts at the Princeton University Chapel, Princeton, New Jersey, April 4, 1968.

“The History of Comparative Psychology,” Summer Institute on the History of Psychology, University of New Hampshire, June 17-July 26, 1968.

Co-Founded Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, October 1968.

“Rationalism and Empiricism in Linguistic Theory,” (with Sheldon Kalick), and “Knight Dunlap and the Founding of Behaviorism,” (with Harvey Waxman), Inaugural Meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences (Chaired by Julian Jaynes), Princeton University, May 9-11, 1969.

“A New Theory of Consciousness,” Invited address at the American Psychological Association conference, Washington, D.C., August 31-September 4, 1969.

“Origins of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, December 12, 1969.

Session Chairman, 2nd Annual Meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, New School for Social Research, Fordham University, New York University, New York, New York, April 29-May 2, 1971.

“Voices of the Gods,” Guest on ZBS Radio, New York, 1970.

Session Chairman, 3rd Annual Meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, May 8-10, 1970.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, The MacLeod Symposium, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, June 3, 1972.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” Invited lecture and informal dinner, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, February 27, 1973.

“The Nature of Consciousness,” “The Bicameral Mind,” and ” The Consequences of Consciousness,” (The Origin of Consciousness lecture series), Invited lectures, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, April 10-12, 1973.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, State University of New York, Geneseo, Geneseo, New York, February 7, 1974.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, American Association for the Advancement of Science Lecture Series, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, March 7, 1974.

“Seven Alternatives for UPEI,” University of Prince Edward Island, Prince Edward Island, Canada, March 13, 1975. On metaphors and developing interaction between the university and the PEI community.

Moderator, “Changing Constructions of Historical Consciousness” Symposium at the 7th Annual Meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Carleton University, Ottowa, Canada, June 5-8, 1975.

“The Evolution of Language in the Late Pleistocene,” Origins and Evolution of Language and Speech conference, New York Academy of Sciences, New York, New York, September 22-25, 1975.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania, November 30, 1975.

“The Nature of Consciousness,” “The Bicameral Mind,” and “The Consequences of Consciousness,” Invited lecture series, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, January 6-9, 1976.

Session Chairman and Discussant, “German Psychology and Ethology,” 8th Annual Meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, May 28-30, 1976.

Guest on WPRB Princeton University Radio, Princeton, New Jersey, Spring 1977?

“The Origin of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, October 13, 1977.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, New York, November 14, 1977.

Guest on The Dick Cavett Show, December 20, 1977. (Re-aired on December 21, 1977 and May 9, 1978 in some markets.)

Invited Guest Lecturer, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts, January 3-20,1978. Included 55 courses and several lecture series, films, and symposiums.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” 4-part Invited lecture series, Elizabeth Hall, Stetson University, DeLand, Florida, January 23, 25-27, 1978.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” and “The Consequences of Consciousness,” Invited lectures, Iowa State University, March 20-21, 1978.

“The Metaphors of the Mind,” Invited lecture, Rutgers University, New Jersey, April 19, 1978.

“The Origin of Consciousness” and “The Consequences of Consciousness,” Invited lectures, Emory University, May 22-23, (24?) 1978.

“The Nature of Consciousness,” “The Bicameral Mind,” and “The Consequences of Consciousness,” (Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind lecture series), Invited 7-part afternoon seminar and evening lecture series, Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island, October 23-26, 1978.

California Institute of Technology colloquium, Pasadena, California, November 1978.

“Creativity and the Bicameral Mind,” Invited Lecture, The University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi, March 13, 1979.

“Individual Consciousness,” “The Bicameral Mind,” “Religion and Madness,” and “Memory, Feelings, and Dreams,” The Individual and Society Invited lecture series, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, March 26-29, 1979.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited lecture series, Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island, May 1979.

Julian Jaynes receives honorary doctorate from Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island, May 1979.

Graduate Commencement Speech, Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island, May 1979.

“The Wells of Consciousness,” Invited Lecture, First Unitarian Church of Berkeley, Berkeley, California, September 28, 1979.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” “Lives, Feelings, and Dreams,” and “The Self and Its Icons,” 3-part Invited Lecture, Lawrence lecture series, The First Unitarian Church of Berkeley, Berkeley, California, September 30, 1979.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” First Annual N.J. Conference on Educating Both Our Brains, County College of Morris, Randolph, New Jersey, November 17-18, 1979.

 Guest on WUHY Philadelphia, “Fresh Air,” 30-minute radio interview, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 13, 1979.

 Guest on David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things, “Left Brain, Right Brain,” December 19, 1979.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” The Unitarian Society of Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, January 27, 1980.

Guest on KUOM Minneapolis, “Intelligence,” speaking on “The Origin of Consciousness,” Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 13, 1980.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind” and “Imagination and the Dance of the Self,” Invited lectures, Six Saturdays: Explorations in Archetypal Themes Lecture Series, Yellow Springs Institute, June 7, 1980.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), Westminster, Maryland, September 25, 1980.

Read the Christmas Lessons, Christmas Eve Service, Princeton University Chapel, Princeton, New Jersey, December 24, 1980.

Guest on WRVO-FM-90, Oswego Public Radio, State University of New York, Oswego, Oswego, New York, 1981.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited lecture, Modes of Understanding Human Existence lecture series, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 26, 1981.

“The Magic Wells of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, First Unitarian Society, West Newton, Massachusetts, May 17, 1981.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited lecture, Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, November 11, 1981.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited lecture, The Power of Imagination conference, Palace of the Fine Arts, San Francisco, April 1-4, 1982.

Guest on Portland Radio, Portland, Oregon, April 19, 1982.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited lecture, Portland State University, Kellogg lecture series, April ?, 1982.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited address, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, October 14, 1982.

Guest on WIYY Baltimore, Interviewed by Robert E. Lopez, Baltimore, Maryland, November 6, 1982.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Keynote Speaker, A Symposium on the Evolution of Consciousness, University of California, Davis, February 26-27, 1983.

“The Origin of Consciousness” and “The Consequences of Consciousness,” Invited lectures, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, March 31-April 1, 1983.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited address, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, April 28, 1983.

“The Uses of Consciousness,” Invited Symposium, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, October 21-22, 1983. Additional talks by Brian Ahern and Don McLaughlin.

“In Search of the Origin of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, The Institute for the Humanities at Salado, Salado, Texas, November 6, 1983.

“Language: The Crucible of Consciousness,” Invited lecture, 1983.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind” and additional discussion, McMaster-Bauer Symposium on Consciousness, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, November 1983.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind” and “The Consequences of Consciousness,” Invited lectures, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, April 5-6, 1984.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited lecture, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, April 11, 1984.

“Four Hypothesis on the Origin of Mind,” Plenary lecture at the 9th International Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg, Austria, August 19-26, 1984.

“The 100th Anniversary of Julian Clifford Jaynes’s Ordination,” First Unitarian Society in West Newton, Massachusetts, January 28, 1985.

“The Origin of Consciousness,” Ocean County College, Toms River, New Jersey, January 29, 1985.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited lecture, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, May 1, 1985.

Julian Jaynes receives honorary doctorate from Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, May 18, 1985.

“The Dream of Agamemnon,” 2nd Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of Dreams, University of Virginia, June 17-18, 1985.

“How Old Is Consciousness?”, Exploring the Concept of the Mind Symposium, University of Iowa, April 11-13, 1985.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” 1st International Congress of The F.M. Alexander Technique, The State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, August 1986.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” and “The Consequences of Consciousness: Time, Memory, and Emotion,” Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan, January 11, 1988.

Morning Prayer and Sermon (11 am) and “Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind” (4:30 pm), Theodore Parker Ferris Lecture, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland, March 12, 1988.

Local Arrangements Chair, 20th Annual Meeting of Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, June 15-19, 1988.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind” and “The Consequences of Consciousness,” Symposium on Julian Jaynes’s Theory, Harvard University, December 2, 1988. Additional talks by Daniel Dennett and Willard Van Orman Quine.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind” and “The Consequences of Consciousness,” Invited lectures, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, February 27-28, 1989.

“The Diachronicity of Consciousness,” Invited address, Workshop on Consciousness, The Giorgio Cini Foundation, Venice, Italy, June 1991.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited lecture, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, April 22, 1992.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited lecture, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, April 26, 1994.

“Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” Invited address, Einstein meets Magritte conference, Brussels, Belgium, May 28-June 3, 1995. (Invited but Julian Jaynes cancelled)

Additional lectures (dates TBD): Columbia University, Dalhousie University, Wellesley College, and Massachusetts at Amherst and Boston Harbor

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Articles by Julian Jaynes

Julian Jaynes’s Google Scholar Profile