Is There A Climatic Origin to the Rise of the Bicameral Mind

Discussion of Julian Jaynes's third hypothesis - dating the development of consciousness to roughly 1500-1200 BCD in Egypt, Greece, and Mesopotamia (the transition occurred at different times in different places around the world). Includes analysis of ancient texts (such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Bible), linguistics, and archeological evidence from ancient civilizations as it pertains to the transition from the bicameral mind to consciousness.
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Kirk Gardner
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Is There A Climatic Origin to the Rise of the Bicameral Mind

Post by Kirk Gardner »

Regarding the rise of the bicameral mind - is it just a coincidence that 10,000 years ago another dramatic change occurred - one effected the global environment?

A long series of rapid and dramatic cycles in the global environment that had persisted for millions of years suddenly came to an end and the climate of Earth went relatively flat. The climate has remained in that state of evenness to the present time. While we may experience what we think are significant differences in weather, when compared to the dramatic swings that dominated the previous millions of years, the past 10,000 years have been very even.

It has been strongly suggested that this climatic evenness is what allowed for the rise of what we call the agricultural revolution - a revolution that transformed humans and human society. Before that shift to an even climate, it would have been impossible to have agriculture on any significant scale.

As food became more available the human population rapidly expanded. But the genetic base associated with that expansion would have been from a fairly small number of people who had undergone a shift that allowed them to interact with each other in a very different way than they had as hunters - in a way that was far more cooperative and complex.

I am suggesting that the appearance of this phenomenal environmental quiescence is directly responsible for the evolution of the bicameral mind and the associated human behavior.
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Re: Is There A Climatic Origin to the Rise of the Bicameral Mind

Post by ebuchman »

As far as large social hierarchies of gods and the birth of bicameral civilization, you are certainly correct. But people have been burying their dead with grave goods for at least 40000 years, if not longer. This poses a question regarding whether burial of the dead is a wholly bicameral operation, though it seems sensible that it results from the persisting hallucinations of the dead person's voice. Perhaps hallucinations have been a part of human phenomenology for longer than Jaynes expected. Or perhaps humans were using hallucinogenic plants which allowed them to hallucinate dead relatives' voices, leaving the de facto bicameral mind to come into play until around the agricultural revolution. How can we really know. Regardless, the climatic change had an explosive effect on human social life, as evidenced by the rise of cities, and this was done on a bicameral basis, but it wasn't necessarily the origin of the bicameral mind.
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