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The Oracles and Their Cessation: A Tribute to Julian Jaynes

David C. Stove
Encounter, April 1989, 72.
Reprinted in Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited (Julian Jaynes Society, 2006).


There is no mystery about why there is farming or industry, why there is instruction of the young, why there is architecture, medicine, or law. But the most salient fact of all human history is this: that all those things, and many others, have almost always been suffused through-and-through with religion, and subordinated by it. All right: but why does religion exist? This is the question of questions concerning Homo sapiens. And I want to commend - and argue with - a book published some dozen years ago which to my mind comes closer to answering that question than everything else I have read about the matter put together. Its author is Julian Jaynes ....