"How Natives Think" by Lucien Lévy-Bruhl & Jaynes' Theory

Discussion of Julian Jaynes's second hypothesis - the bicameral mind, specifically the subtopic of the mentality of preliterate societies, theories of primitive religion, and vestiges of bicameral mind in preliterate societies.
Post Reply
Site Admin
Posts: 351
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2005 1:03 pm

"How Natives Think" by Lucien Lévy-Bruhl & Jaynes' Theory

Post by Moderator »

Sevearal chapters in How Natives Think, (1926) by Lucien Lévy-Bruhl are also relevant to Jaynes's theory of the bicameral mind, specifically the chapters quoted below.

Chapter 8 - Institutions in Which Collective Representations Governed by the Law of Participation Are Involved

"To them, there is no insuperable barrier separating the dead from the living. On the contrary, they are constantly in touch with them. They can do them good or harm, and they can also be well or badly treated by them. To the primitive there is nothing stranger in communicating with the dead than in being connected with 'spirits,' or with any occult force whose influence he feels, or which he flatters himself he is subduing.

"Miss Kingsley relates that she once heard a Negro talking aloud, as if conversing with an interlocutor unseen by her. Upon inquiry she found that the Negro was talking to his dead mother, who, according to him, was present" (p. 270).

"First of all, then, generally speaking, the primitive finds no difficulty in imagining the dead as sometimes constituting a community in the other world quite distinct from living communities, and again, as intervening on all occasions in the life of those here" (pgs. 271–272).

Quoting sinologist J.J.M. de Groot, Lévy-Bruhl writes:

"'It is an inveterate conviction of the Chinese people, a doctine, an axiom, that spirits exist, keeping up with the living a most lively intercourse, as intimate almost as that among men. There exists, in fact, a line of separation between the dead and the living, but it is a very faint line, scarcely discernible. In every respect their intercourse bears an active character. It brings blessing, and evil as well, the spirits thus ruling effectually man's fate'" (p. 272).

Chapter 9 - Transitions to Higher Mental Types
Post Reply

Return to “2.6. Hypothesis Two: The Bicameral Mind | Subtopic: The Mentality of Pre-Literate & Pre-Modern Peoples”