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References to Julian Jaynes by other Authors

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:23 pm
by rnonemaker
I am continuously amazed at the lack of recognition given to Julian Jaynes and his theories by other scientists writing about the mind. Two come to mind.

Michael Gazzaniga in "Who's in Charge: Free Will and the Science of the Brain” quotes a definition of consciousness by Stuart Sutherland in "The international dictionary of psychology" from 1989 as: "… Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon; it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written about it.”

Dean Hamer in “The God Gene” states early on in his book (p.5) “… a survey taken in the 1990’s found that 53 percent of Americans have had a ‘moment of sudden religious awakening or insight.’ In our own research … more than one-third of … people we surveyed reported personal experiences in which they felt in contact with ‘a divine and wonderful spiritual power’.”

Neither of these authors, and others I have read, mention Julian Jaynes work, despite the significance of what he proposed to what the authors were writing about.

I’d be interested in hearing from professionals in the area of psychiatry, neuroscience, genetic biology, or other areas or research why they think so little is known about Jaynes’ theories.

Re: References to Julian Jaynes by other Authors

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:36 pm
by Moderator
It will be interesting to see if professionals in the fields you mentioned offer their insights.

My own take is the answer is complex. Many are interested but feel the theory is still too controversial. Others have heard of the theory but in some cases dismissed it based on one or another of the common misconceptions outlined on the website. They simply don't invest the time necessary to properly understand the theory.

On the other hand, the number of professionals referencing Jaynes's theory has increased dramatically over the past decade (see the Academic Interest page). Recent examples of popular books mentioning Jaynes include Self Comes to Mind by Antonio Damasio, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman. Jaynes is mentioned at least briefly in thousands of lesser known books. (One can search these at ... unfortunately the majority of books mentioning Jaynes, whether favorably or unfavorably, exhibit misunderstandings of the theory).

The number of journal articles mentioning Jaynes has also increased significantly. A recent article dedicated to Jaynes's theory was published in the American Journal of Psychology. There are also more critiques of Jaynes's theory appearing, in books and articles that in the past would likely have just not mentioned the theory at all (many of these are addressed on the Critiques and Responses page).

I credit some of the increase in publications mentioning Jaynes to the release of the Reflections book, the newsletter, and now the Julian Jaynes Collection. Academics, like all people, exhibit something of a herd mentality. Scholars are much more likely to discuss a theory if they see others scholars are taking it seriously.

There is still a long way to go, but I think things are moving in the right direction.

Jaynes enthusiasts can help by writing positive reviews of the books on, giving the books to friends as gifts, sharing the newsletters, blogging about the theory (or responding to other's blog posts online), and "Liking" the Julian Jaynes Facebook page and then forwarding posts that are made to the page to their friends. People become interested in things that they see others are interested in.

Re: References to Julian Jaynes by other Authors

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:08 pm
by rnonemaker
Thank you for your insight and additional references. I do have Dawkins "The God Delusion" on my "to read" pile. Will look into others. And thanks for the Facebook note; I'll do that.

Re: References to Julian Jaynes by other Authors

Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:40 am
by JSJohnson
Just finished reading "reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness; Julian Jaynes Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited" by Marcel Kuijsten, followed by "Conciousness Beyond Life -- The Science of the Near-Death Experience" by Pim van Lommel, MD. Science seems to be considering the view that the subjective may be more fundamental than the objective, a view that Jaynes opened for me (Newly Emerging Insights) and which NDEs tend to confirm. Given the large and growing numbers of NDEs and their similarities and the publicity they are getting it would seem that civilization is approaching a truly major new insight, with all that it implies.


Re: References to Julian Jaynes by other Authors

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:45 pm
by selfreplicate
good thing I saw this thread, I was just going to post this up anyway.

Damasio makes an important distinction in regards to a major misinterpretation of Jaynes' theory. He talks about the self-as-object vs. the self-as-subject (p10), and uses the term 'autobiographical self' as analagous to Jaynes's 'subjective consciousness'

specific mention:
"Still, I sympathize with Julian Jaynes's claim that something of great import may have happened to the human mind during the relatively brief period of time between the events narrated in the Iliad and those that make up the Odyssey." (p307)
Antonio Damasio, When Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, 2010.

Re: References to Julian Jaynes by other Authors

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:12 pm
by ignosympathnoramus
Would anyone be willing to include whatever references to Jaynes that Roy Baumeister makes? I have read a few of his books but didn't find them. Any reason he is the keynote speaker at the upcoming conference? I'm extremely thrilled that he is doing so, as he is a well-respected psychologist and one of my personal favorites to boot!

Re: References to Julian Jaynes by other Authors

Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:12 pm
by Moderator
The Cultural Animal: Human Nature, Meaning, and Social Life

A quote from the book referencing Jaynes is listed here: ... es_a-c.php

His research on willpower is also relevant to the study of consciousness. Professor Baumeister also knew Jaynes when he studied at Princeton University, and read early drafts of The Origin of Consciousness.

Re: References to Julian Jaynes by other Authors

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:28 pm
by ignosympathnoramus
Herbert and David Spiegel's classic book on hypnosis, "Trance and Treatment," doesn't specifically reference Jaynes, but I contacted D. Spiegel and he assured me that Jaynes was a strong influence in their development of the Hypnotic Induction Profile (1977). However, he was quick to note that the middle score between Apollonian and Dionysian -- Odyssean -- was a concept that they developed independently. The book contains many ideas relevant to Jaynes, especially in its chapter on hemispheric lateralization, but the part that I found most interesting was how consciousness was characterized as a dynamic interplay or dialectic between focal and peripheral awareness. The Spiegel's counter-intuitively explain that the Apollonian "style of concentration is characterized by a predominance of peripheral awareness in relation to focal awareness." They are "detached" and constantly scanning for conflicts and comparisons, though they can become obsessional where attention is a sort of labored concentration "always threatened by details which cannot be ignored easily." Another interesting finding is that people with serious psychoses are not capable of being hypnotized.

On an unrelated note, I found this paragraph to be quite interesting: "Hoppe (1977) reminds us that in 1895 Freud pointed toward a unification of psychiatry and neurophysiology. He studied split-brain patients and reported: "The similarity and operational thinking between patients suffering from psychosomatic illnesses and split-brain people has led me to the hypothesis of a 'functional commissurotomy' in cases of severe psychopathic disturbances." This is rather close to my own conception of mental pathology and how consciousness works. I wonder whether anyone has checked to see what commissurotomy patients score on the HIP.