Absence of Self

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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Absence of Self

Post by lenny52682 »

The concept of the Bicameral Mind where the locus of control resides in the hallucinatory voices that bicameral man called his gods presents certain questions. The hallucinatory nature of this mentality does not strike me as so bemusing as the concept of an individual without the analog-I. Hallucinations while not experienced by all people can conceivably hold considerable influence over those who do experience such phenomena. Hallucinations, whether auditory or visual, are never experienced as abstract or symbolic. Hallucinations may be perceived much like other concrete phenomena though their sometimes extraordinary nature may affect the experiencer greatly. A person hearing hallucinatory commands may perceive such commands as compulsory. He may feel that he has no choice in opposing or ignoring such commands. He performs whatever task ordered by his "gods" without hesitation. This is not difficult to conceive of because such a mindset can be witnessed in many schizophrenics today. Such individuals operating under the compulsion of their hallucinations typically do not take personal responsibility for the "decisions" to perform the commanded actions. However, they often understand that they personally performed such actions. In other words, the hallucinations caused such actions but the hallucinations did not, in themselves, perform such actions. The schizophrenic understands the he performed such actions though he did not cause such actions by consciously deciding to perform them.

Bicameral Mind Theory, of course, stops short of calling schizophrenia bicamerality by, instead, calling it a partial relapse into the bicameral mind. The schizophrenic is originally acculturated with a sense of self but later finds that self is compelled to submit to the whims of hallucinatory commands. Bicamerality entails the complete absence of self. Man's entire locus of control resides in his "gods." If bicameral man like the schizophrenic ascribes the decisions to act to his "gods," what entity does he believe acts upon such decisions? Granted he possesses no concept of self whatsoever, so who or what is performing the actions ordered by his "gods." Without the concept of self could a person feel like a distinct entity? It seems to me that to call a bicameral man a slave to his "gods" does not accurately encapsulate the mentality. A slave may do nothing but follow orders and he may not really think or decide for himself too much. However, the energy and the body devoted to following orders belong to the slave. The orders he receives from his overseer do not belong to him but the actions that fulfill them do. It seems that the actual actions of bicameral man must have somehow been ascribed to the external as well.
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Re: absence of self

Post by Moderator »

This is an interesting subject. Along these lines, discussions of pre-literate societies often describe very different self-concepts that we are accustomed to. Even in the Middle Ages, people seemed to have a much more limited concept of the self than we do today.
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Re: absence of self

Post by shrimperdude »

I'm not sure where exactly you are getting this stuff; and you did not say.

It sounds as if you too would benefit from a few hours spent looking into Terrence McKenna's ideas & his basis for such conclusions.

Volition, Authority & Extra-terrestrial sources of intelligence is exactly what the Holy Bible was written about; perhaps there is something useful for you there; something you may have missed on your first read-though.

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