Bicameral Laughter

Discussion of Julian Jaynes's second hypothesis - that before the development of consciousness, humans operated under a previous mentality called the bicameral mind.
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Bicameral Laughter

Post by jamesadrian »

Did early bicameral people laugh?

Thank you for your help.

Jim Adrian
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Re: Bicameral Laughter

Post by Moderator »

It's an interesting question. My initial thought would be yes. For example, we can imagine responding to a linguistic or non-linguistic joke or humorous situation without having an interior mind-space.

I think some early, rudimentary forms of humor and laughter could have pre-dated language. For example, witnessing and responding to a mishap. As language developed, humor (and therefore laughter) would have likely become more frequent and more complex.

There are probably more "advanced" forms of humor that are unique to individuals with consciousness, but that's something I have not thought much about. Perhaps others can speak to this.

Another starting point would be to look at descriptions of humor and laughter in early pre-literate societies, and then extrapolate back to bicameral societies. Humor and laughter are perhaps on a continuum that tracks roughly with language and consciousness.

This book may also be of interest:
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