Page 1 of 1

Dreams and J-Consciousness

Posted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:03 am
by ASD
I saw this article ( ... imper.html) about dogs and dreaming, and it made me wonder about what kind of dreams bicameral man might have experienced.

According to the article:
'People often wonder whether dogs that seem to be running during sleep are dreaming of catching rabbits or suchlike,' says Dodman [professor of behavioral pharmacology and animal behavior].

'I think, from the above discussion that one can safely say they are.'
Do you think this is true? Do dogs dream about chasing rabbits? If so, wouldn't that seem to indicate the capacity for constructing a model of the universe in a dog's mind-space? Recollection as well as recognition? And possibly even a model of self? Or is the dog merely experiencing dream-emotions that cause it to twitch and "run?" In other words, it might be experiencing the emotions that trigger action without experiencing the physical perceptions (seeing or smelling or hearing the rabbit) that normally trigger the emotions.

Or maybe dogs have a model of the universe in their subconscious, but lack the capacity (language, for example) to access it while awake. During sleep, the model universe "leaks" into their dreams. Which might indicate that dogs are bicameral, but without the capacity to "hear" the auditory commands that bicameral man experienced.

Re: Dreams and J-Consciousness

Posted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:32 pm
by GraemeM
I can't see why not. As I understand it, bicamerality doesn't mean that a mind has no inner experience. All mammals, men and dogs included, should quite simply have in their minds a model of the world and a representation of experiences and events. It seems to me the 'mind-space' that Jaynes speaks of is a metaphorical, language based construction but that doesn't mean that beings without language don't have internal experience. Dogs and men would dream regardless. As the article notes it's a fundamental brain mechanism.

That said, you'd imagine that a dog's dreams would be relatively simple representations of things - eg chasing rabbits, or mating, or maybe a fearful dream of being attacked by some larger creature. They'd be unlikely to have narrative type dreams such as we might experience. I think.

For example, I tend to have 'novel' like experiences on occasions. I once had a dream that I was a member of a US bomber crew shot down over Europe in WWII and I was sheltered by a family in a small village. This went of for a year or two and after the war I returned home. Many years later I returned with my children to see where it had all happened. The dream had a narrative quality, covered many years of time, and expressed a variety of conceptual qualities. I doubt a dog could entertain such a dream.

Language allows me to build that kind of dream through the codification of concepts and symbols that simply would not be accessible to a dog. But a dream in which I am driving my car and go off the road and awaken with a jerk is a simple representation of everyday experience using memory and simple concepts. A dog could have such a dream (without the driving part of course!).

Re: Dreams and J-Consciousness

Posted: Mon Feb 29, 2016 11:38 pm
by Moderator
For the researchers to say that they know the content of dogs' dreams is highly speculative at best.

It is tempting to read into twitching paws our own dream experience, but it is very unlikely that dogs or other animals without language have vicarial, translocative (in other words, conscious) dreams.

We know this because humans did not always have conscious dreams. Dreams in the ancient world consisted of the dreamer being asleep in bed, being visited by a god or dead relative, and issued a command -- much like in the waking bicameral experience. Prior to consciousness, people did not see themselves in other locations (translocative) or doing things other than sleeping (vicarial).

The dreams we have today are simply consciousness operating during sleep, and would not be possible without an analog I operating in a mind-space.

Please read "The Dream of Agamemnon" in The Julian Jaynes Collection for Julian Jaynes's thoughts and insights on dreams and the transition from bicameral to conscious dreams.

Re: Dreams and J-Consciousness

Posted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:02 pm
by GraemeM
I'm not sure I follow your argument there Mod. Your own explanation doesn't illustrate a non-dreaming state in ancient man or animals. Isn't Jaynes simply arguing for the notion that language and hence J-consciousness confer within us an "I" space, a metaphorical language based sense of self absent in non-language using beings. If so then he isn't arguing against simple inner mental experience, which is largely what dreaming appears to be.

Looked at another way, everything we experience in our 'minds' including what Jaynes refers to as simple awareness is a representation of the external world. For example, colour, sound and warmth don't exist in the external world, they are inner representations of external properties. Is Jaynes proposing that when we feel 'hot', or we see 'white' or we hear a particular musical 'note', that we cannot have that experience without language?

That seems highly unlikely to me. When I see white, or I feel warmth, I don't need to describe that in words to experience it. I do need words and an inner mind-space if I wish to have a sense of those properties as actually being properties of some world representation that "I" am experiencing and to be able to describe this experience to others, but that surely is an "add-on" to the core experience that say a dog might have. I believe that a dog will feel hot or see a particular colour much the same as I do, but he doesn't know what that means in a J-conscious sense as he lacks the capacity to do that.

Take just seeing the world. Our visual experience of the world is an inner representation. We don't need language and an inner mind-space to see and know what we can see, surely? Or do you suggest that a dog simply has no inner experience of what he sees? My guess is that he does indeed have that experience. And when it comes to dreams, while a dog cannot have a detailed dream in which he experiences that it is "him" chasing the rabbit and interacting meaningfully with his world, I see no reason why he cannot experience a dream of him chasing a rabbit.

Re: Dreams and J-Consciousness

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:36 am
by Moderator
I can see you haven't read Jaynes's chapter on dreams in The Julian Jaynes Collection or Robert Atwan's chapter "The Interpretation of Dreams, The Origin of Consciousness, and the Birth of Tragedy" in Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind. : )

There's a difference that takes place historically (and in child development), from non-conscious visitation dreams, in which the dream consists of being asleep in bed and being visited by a god or dead ancestor issuing a command (mirroring the waking bicameral experience), and modern, conscious dreams, in which we see ourselves often from a third person view in a variety of situations (and not asleep in bed). So here we see the dream experience profoundly transformed by the advent or learning of consciousness.

Obviously Jaynes is not proposing that we can't experience sense perceptions without language. This is not how he defines consciousness. It sounds like you've been reading discussions of consciousness by other authors that use very broad definitions that include reactivity and sense perception and this is causing some confusion. I re-read Jaynes's first two chapters often, as Jaynes's discussion of consciousness remains far ahead of much of the current thinking in the field. Never mind a dog, a housefly also has sensory perception -- it is very interesting how these processes work but this is not what Jaynes is concerned with and conscious dreams appear to be based on more than the capacity for sense perception.

Based on historical evidence as well as studies in child development (see the above-mentioned chapters and Children's Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness by David Foulkes), dreaming of oneself engaging in other situations (such as chasing a rabbit) appears to require an analog 'I' narratizing in a mind-space. While it's possible this is different in non-human animals, there's currently no evidence to suggest this. The original article contains a high degree of speculation and appears to be based more on the researchers' own conscious dreaming experience.