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Julian Jaynes Society

February 2021

Dear Members and Friends of the Julian Jaynes Society,

This month a new article and interview on Jaynes's theory, "Did the Bicameral Mind Evolve to Create Modern Human Consciousness?" was posted on the popular HowStuffWorks website, exposing many new people to Jaynes's ideas.

We're also kicking off our Member Events: an interview series where we'll delve into different aspects of Jaynes's theory with experts from a variety of different backgrounds. Event attendees will be able to participate in question and answer sessions as well as get to know other members of the Society. We hope you'll join us for an upcoming event.

Finally, be sure to read the latest blog posts on the Julian Jaynes Society website.


Marcel Kuijsten,
Executive Director

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Did the Bicameral Mind Evolve to Create Modern Human Consciousness?

By Robert Lamb

What is consciousness and how did it emerge in human beings?

Great thinkers have pondered these questions for ages – and the subject continues to intrigue us. We know that our mental state sets us apart from other animals. We also know we're a product of evolution. Gradual changes occurred over time to make us what we are today. One of those changes is the emergence of consciousness.

But when exactly did this change take place? When did humans, or perhaps our pre-human ancestors, shift from a life of instinctual existence to a life of reason, reflection and inner complexity? Furthermore, what were we like before the change? How do we imagine humans without a modern consciousness?

Various hypotheses have tackled these mind-blowing questions, entailing everything from the limitations of human attention to quantum theory. The true answer remains elusive. Today, we are going to consider a single, somewhat controversial hypothesis: the bicameral mind. ...

Read the full article

The Julian Jaynes Society online interview series kicks off on Saturday, February 20th. Geared toward those already familiar with Jaynes's theory, we'll be going beyond the basics and exploring a wide-range of topics related to Julian Jaynes’s theory with experts from a variety of different backgrounds. RSVP for our upcoming events:

February 20, 2021, 12pm Pacific Time
Brian J. McVeigh – Evidence for the Bicameral Mind in the Old Testament
An interview with Brian J. McVeigh on his recent book The Psychology of the Bible and the evidence for the bicameral mind and the transition to consciousness in the Old Testament. The interview will be followed by Q&A with the event participants. Dr. McVeigh will generously be giving away copies of his latest book The Psychology of the Bible to the first 15 members to RSVP and attend this event.

March 20, 2021, 12pm Pacific Time
Boban Dedovic – The Evolution of Mind Words in the Iliad and the Odyssey
An interview with Boban Dedovic on his research article “‘Minds’ in ‘Homer’: A quantitative psycholinguistic comparison of the Iliad and Odyssey.” The interview will be followed by Q&A with the event participants. Read his article: ‘Minds’ in ‘Homer’: A quantitative psycholinguistic comparison of the Iliad and Odyssey

JJS Events

It is an interesting fact that the success rates for different psychotherapies are about the same. This is why researchers have searched for “common factors” that facilitate the healing process. The goal, then, should be to discover the common “active ingredients” of all therapies, e.g., the personality of the therapist, the “therapeutic alliance.” Could consciousness itself constitute a common factor that can be cultivated in order to repair troubled minds? Could consciousness underlie the effectiveness of the self-healing mind?

Let’s start with what consciousness actually means by relying on Julian Jaynes’s definition: A type of meta-cognition that is experienced as subjective introspectable self-awareness. He claimed that consciousness — or to be more precise, the “features of conscious interiority” (FOCI) — is not biologically innate but was culturally learned by about 1000 BCE. FOCI are instances of adaptive reframing, abstracting, metaphorizing, and transcending our circumstances: (1) mental space (introspectable stage for manipulating mental images); (2) introception (employing semi-hallucinatory, quasi-perceptions to “see” different perspectives); (3) self observing and self observed (increasing role/perspective-taking); (4) self-narratization (intensifying retrospection/prospection capabilities); (5) excerption (editing mental contents for higher-order conceptualization); (6) consilience (fitting conceptions together more effectively to bolster abstraction); (7) concentration (peripheralizing unrelated mental material); (8) suppression (deleting distracting and distressing thoughts); (9) self-authorization (self-legitimizing one’s decisions and volitional behavior); (10) self-autonomy (bolstering self-direction and self-confidence); (11) self-individuation (highlighting personal strengths); (12) self-reflexivity (cultivating insight, self-objectivity, and self-corrective abilities). ...

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