Does consciousness inevitably arise in any sufficiently complex brain? Although widely accepted, this view — inherited from Darwin’s theory of evolution — is supported by surprisingly little evidence. Offering an alternate view of the history of the human mind, Julian Jaynes’s ideas challenge our preconceptions of not only the origin of the modern mind, but the origin of gods and religion, the nature of mental illness, and the future potential of consciousness. The tremendous explanatory power of Jaynes’s ideas force us to reevaluate much of what we thought we knew about human history.
Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind both explains Julian Jaynes’s theory and explores a wide range of related topics such as the ancient Dark Age, the nature of dreams and the birth of Greek tragedy, poetic inspiration, the significance of hearing voices in both the ancient and modern world, the development of consciousness in children, vestiges of bicameralism and the transition to consciousness in early Tibet, the relationship of consciousness and metaphorical language, and how Jaynes’s ideas compare to those of other thinkers.
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From the back cover of Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind:
“… [O]ne of the most thought-provoking and debated theories about the origin of the conscious mind.” — Andrea Cavanna, M.D., in Consciousness: Theories in Neuroscience and Philosophy of Mind
“[Jaynes’s] proposal is too interesting to ignore.” — David Eagleman, Ph.D., in Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
“… I sympathize with Julian Jaynes’s claim that something of great import may have happened to the human mind during the relatively brief interval of time between the events narrated in the Iliad and those that make up the Odyssey.” — Antonio Damasio, Ph.D., in Self Comes to Mind
“… Scientific interest in [Jaynes’s] work has been re-awakened by the consistent findings of right-sided activation patterns in the brain, as retrieved with the aid of neuroimaging studies in individuals with verbal auditory hallucinations.” — Jan Dirk Blom, M.D., Ph.D., in A Dictionary of Hallucinations
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Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind (product flyer)