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Introduction to Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind

Marcel Kuijsten
In Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind: The Theories of Julian Jaynes (Julian Jaynes Society, 2016).


In January 1977, the psychologist Julian Jaynes, who taught at Princeton University for nearly 25 years, released his seminal book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. In this work he proposed that consciousness is not innate, but rather a learned process built up through metaphorical language and taught to each successive generation. Jaynes specifically defines consciousness as the human ability to introspect, and not merely being awake or aware of one's surroundings. According to Jaynes, human psychology underwent a profound transformation as recently as 3,000 years ago. For those who understand Jaynes's theory and appreciate its significance, it is easy to regard Julian Jaynes as one of the most original and important thinkers of the twentieth century.