Bicameral Mind and more recent "Theory of Mind"

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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Bicameral Mind and more recent "Theory of Mind"

Post by nolaman »

I have just begun re-reading Origin of Consciousness after about a 25 year hiatus.

I was curious whether recent neurological discoveries had validated any of Jaynes' ideas. I was already aware of the recent discovery of "mirror" neurons that supposedly account for our ability to empathize with others. These would seem to be an esential building block of consciousness. I know that they have identified mirror neurons in other great apes, but not in other species.
Then I ran across a discussion of what is referred to as "theory of mind". It is a discrete area of the brain which appears to be responsible for our ability to form what Jaynes called an "analog I". This discovery seems to further provide a neurological basis for consciousness in accord with Jaynes. Here's the Wikipedia reference for "theory of mind"
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Re: Bicameral Mind and more recent "Theory of Mind"

Post by martinem »

Yes, I also think that the Theory of Mind is an important step toward an understanding of consiousness. A development of consciousness could consist of stages like: 1: Understanding of another persons intentionality. 2: Constructing a picture of the other persons inner world (somewhere to place the other persons will). 3: Realising that the other person also has an inner representation of myself, and my own inner will) 4: This means construction of an inner representation of the other persons inner representation of one's own inner world. 5: Tada! Self-conscious!
In this line of thought it follows that Theory of Mind precedes consciousness and that it is at least theoretically possible to find a person with a mostly developed ToM but a compromised self-awareness.
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Re: Bicameral Mind and more recent "Theory of Mind"

Post by benjamindavidsteele »

There is one speculation based on observations of children. Some suspect that a child first develops a theory of mind for other people before doing so for themselves.

That is to say that theory of mind is inherently social and so Jaynesian consciousness might in a sense be an internalization of this theory of mind. Coming to realize others have an interiority creates the possibility of imagining an interiority within oneself.

Thinking along these lines goes back to the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky. He thought cognitive development was socially constructed.
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