Thanks again for the interesting points, JBrubaker. I'm enjoying the discussion.
Can we assert that all dreams during this period were evolutionary beneficial (I assume you mean culturally beneficial)?
I did mean evolutionary, as in helped them live longer and procreate more, but I need to backtrack here. I should have mentioned that this idea about the role dreams played in the breakdown period was a tangent from my more central point that the function of dreams originally came from the fully bicameral period when I believe they served to implant observed events in the mind so that they could be unconsciously access later and acted upon. It is during the fully bicameral period and at the very beginning of the breakdown period when I believe people would have been "even more compelled to follow these dreams than even an actual event observed while awake" because the dreamed event would have been better hard-wired into their unconscious mind then something they observed but did not yet have the ability to process while awake, due to a lack of conscious thought.
And are you suggesting that dreams replaced the inner god during the breakdown period?
After the loss of their auditory hallucinations, I believe conscious individuals looked to their dreams for the authorization that the bicameral mind once provided. Also, during the fully bicameral period the auditory hallucinations experienced (that would later be labeled as god during the breakdown period) were directly derived from events that had been experienced and implanted in the unconscious mind through the process of dreaming.
For every dream which gave one the proper or right instruction, there may have been many others which gave the wrong advice.
During the bicameral period, I don't think dreams gave advice at all; they were simply exact recreations of observed events. After the breakdown period has started and people begin to develop subjective consciousness, dreams become infused with conscious imagination and begin to take on the surreal quality that we associate with them today, and could often be interpreted however the conscious mind desired.
Imagination I agree is a key term that greatly needs proper definition, especially in terms of the bicameral discussion. I believe that imagination developed parallel with consciousness...that unconscious animals such as a cat do not have the ability to dream of a winged mouse. They simply replay an event in their unconscious mind exactly as it occurred.
But what of the dreams and waking hallucinations of winged lions, or sphinxes, or angels that are recorded during the bicameral period?
I am interested to know what period this imagery was created in, as it may help me adjust the timeline in my own mind. I don't have much knowledge of this, but all of the early cave paintings and "sculptures" I have seen from 10,000 years ago and earlier have been fairly realistic depictions of animals or hunting scenes...recreations of observed events with no imagination present, which is one of the ideas I am basing this train of thought on. I would have expected the type of imagery you are referring to be no more than 5,000-10,000 years old and representative of the very beginnings of the breakdown period among a small minority of individuals, but I would be interested to expand the discussion on this topic.
Further, I would caution you concerning your phrasing: they unconsciously receive impulses within their brain that give them instructions.... This seems to imply that the impulses do not originate within the brain, but from an exterior source. It may be more simply that the instructions are constantly being looped - smell X triggers activity Z until smell Y occurs.
The LAST thing I want to do is give the impression that the impulses did not originate within the brain, but from an exterior source. I will have to be more careful with my wording to make sure I am completely clear that none of these ideas are related to any type of "overseer" or "external source" in any form. The hard-wiring I am referring to is undoubtedly the product of millions of years of evolution, but I think it gives insight into the capacity of unconscious animals to create structures which--as you mention--defy the ability of any one member of the group to conceptualize.
No critique, just asking for clarification - are you proposing that dreams hard wired behavioral patterns, perhaps giving them more authority? Interesting concept.
Yes...exactly. And also that these hard-wired behavioral patterns (with the development of rudimentary language) took on an auditory form and became the bases for bicameral hallucinations.
But what if an individual dreamed of a previously experienced event that contained an improper or maladaptive response? Would not he have the wrong automatic response imprinted? Would it kill him? Probably - hence a process of selective adaptation - people who dreamed too much of wrong behavior died out more quickly than those who didn't.
I believe this is why we experience emotion along with our dreams as if it were an actual event, to recreate the experience as exactly as possible. If an animal observed a member of the pack climb a tree to get fruit and fall to his death, a negative emotion of fear would accompany the dream and that animal would be unconsciously afraid to climb trees. If the member of the pack climbed the tree and returned to the ground safely with some tasty fruit, a positive emotion would accompany the dream of that event and the dreamer would have an unconscious inclination toward climbing trees after the dream.
What (I think) is also fascinating is that our brains evolved the capacity to largely switch off the impulses to our muscle groups while dreaming so we don't sleep walk ourselves into the mouth of a predator or off a cliff, while still allowing the brain to experience the event as if it were actually occurring. I have seen video of animals that were given injections so that their brain was not able to turn off the impulses to the muscle groups and they actually stand up and physically reenact the event during the dream. Funny and fascinating!
Again, can we suppose that imagination (need a definition here) is a phenomenon of subjective consciousness, or was it existent in the bicameral period? And do not bicameral people consider the gods (and their commands) as being outside of oneself?
I would enjoy hearing more thoughts on the origin of imagionation and if it did in fact exist before the beginning of the breakdown period. I personally don't think that it did or that fully bicameral people would have considered gods outside themselves, but again, I would enjoy hearing other thoughts...