Audio download of Bill Rowe’s lecture “The Other Origin of Consciousness: Infancy and its Relationship to Julian Jaynes’s Theory.”
From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.
Summary: There are two origins of consciousness, one in antiquity and one in infancy. In the last decades of the twentieth century research in child development highlighted capacities of the human infant-caregiver relationship uniquely relevant to Julian Jaynes’s theory. One of these is a species specific capacity, present in the first year of life, which enables a close temporal coupling between human infants and their caregivers. The other is the ability of the children, beginning around 3 years of age, to conceptualize other people in terms of mental states. This talk will look at what is shared between children and their caregivers over the period of birth to about 7 years of age. These are, in developmental order, affect, subjective states, social scripts, and mental states. These shared features are highly variable and allow for a wide range of cultural emphasis. From a developmental-theoretic perspective this variability fits Julian Jaynes’s constructivist view of consciousness; it must be learned through other people, it can change over time, and can be different from culture to culture. These capacities can serve as additional constraints in speculations on the nature of consciousness in ancient times. Perhaps, looking at Julian Jaynes’s theory through the lens of child development can help make it feel less distant and more familiar to more people.
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