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Andrew Stehlik – Polytheism, Monotheism and Beyond

Audio download of Andrew (Ondrej) Stehlik’s lecture “Polytheism, Monotheism and Beyond.”

From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.

Summary: Julian Jaynes presented an interesting anthropological theory of the origins and development of religion. He based most of his observations on Classic Homeric material with only cursory attention given to a few other regions and traditions. Recent developments in our understanding of the Near Eastern religious milieu and especially the most recent developments in our understanding of the Biblical religion asks for closer attention and assessment since it can provide interesting new perspectives and supportive insights.

Small cumulative advances in the academic study of the Biblical texts (So-called Biblical minimalists also known as the Copenhagen School — Thomas L. Thompson and Niels Peter Lemche together with other scholars, for instance Philip R. Davies) and especially in the discipline of Near Eastern Archeology (Israel Finkelstein, cooperating on popularizing volumes with Neil Asher Silberman) started to accelerate in 1990s. Simultaneously the dating of the final authorship of the Biblical texts has been moved forward by several centuries to the Persian and perhaps even later Hellenistic period (the Persian dating being proposed by Peter Frei). It is now a well-established fact that the Biblical text cannot be used as a direct source for the study of Ancient History. For instance the stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs, of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Isaac, the Exodus narrative, the sagas of the unified monarchy of David and Solomon are now viewed as predominantly literary compositions.

The full appreciation of the fact that the Biblical texts and narratives do not relate history in a straightforward fashion is only a negative aspect of the recent development. This development is complemented and greatly surpassed by a positive impact. Religious texts, appropriately understood, can help us decipher, illuminate and understand some of the most fascinating and complex anthropological processes.

For instance, viewed in the ANE context, the Biblical texts preserved (like DNA) remnants of the developmental stages of monotheization of the original (polytheistic) religion. The work of Mark S. Smith from NYU and others ANE scholars like my Edinburgh professor Nicolas Wyatt clearly demonstrates that the Bible contains a substantial part of the North-West Semitic pantheon and mythology. Their publications illuminate the complex and diverse processes which lead toward the final form of the monotheistic text.

Ancient myths were “democratized” and transformed into heroic legends while divine characters were re-named and re-coined as patriarchs and other human characters. The North-West Semitic Pantheon and the characteristics and functions of its original deities were assimilated (god El), substituted (gods Yarich and Shemesh), subsumed and sublimated (goddess Asherah) expropriated and suppressed (god Baal), or inhibited and obscured (plethora of minor deities). Old religious practices were re-framed, re-narrated, hidden, forbidden and/or suppressed.

From a different point of view and with different accents, it can be described with Jan Assmann as a transition from the concept of multiple immanent deities representing natural forces towards a transcendent deity as a guarantor of the natural order. This process was accompanied by a transition from a broadly inclusive natural religiosity to a strictly exclusive supranatural one. We can also observe a simultaneous shift from sacrificial religion to a religion concerned with education and teaching (a shift from orthopraxy to orthodoxy) and from an oral tradition to the written fixation of religion.

I find this new understanding of the development of the Ancient Near Eastern religion surprisingly harmonious with Julian Jaynes’s theory of the bicameral mind and its transition towards modern consciousness. The theory of Jan Assmann should be of particular interest. Assmann outlines a fast transition/shift from the primary to the secondary religion which cannot be reversed and which he calls the Mosaic Distinction. I would like to suggest that the immanent, natural, oral, inclusive and orthopraxy-oriented religion represents an original (and organic) religion of the bicameral stage and perhaps an early post-breakdown stage. As the process of the breakdown of the bicameral mind deepened, religiosity started to move first slowly, but inevitably, towards transcendent, supranatural, written, exclusivistic and orthodoxy-oriented religion. Breakdown of bicameralism and the disintegration of organic religiosity, are simultaneous and complementary processes. And just like the modern concept of consciousness, any contact between old organic religiosity and new world religions leads to irreversible changes in self-understanding.

As the world monotheistic religions are discovering and deepening this ability of anthropological self-reflection, we are clearly entering a new stage of religious development. A radically new form of religiosity, non-dogmatic, post-transcendent, is becoming possible and probable just like some kind of new reintegration of the human mind and self understanding.

All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.




Bill Rowe – The Other Origin of Consciousness: Infancy and its Relationship to Julian Jaynes’s Theory

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.

All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.




Carole Brooks Platt – The Right Mind of the Poet

Audio download of Carole Brooks Platt’s lecture “The Right Mind of the Poet” [Inspired Poetry and Jaynes’ Bicameral Mind Theory].

From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.

Summary: Julian Jaynes identified the right temporal lobe as the source of the inspired voices of poets and prophets. In a number of studies in the 90’s, Michael Persinger used electromagnetic stimulation to induce a “God experience,” but also did a lesser known experiment with Katherine Makarec where 900 college students answered a questionnaire about their hallucinatory anomalies, a feeling of presence, and their predilections for creative writing. The researchers concluded that intense verbal meaningfulness in the dominant left hemisphere could produce a sense of alien presence in the non-verbal right hemispheric sense of self, along with messages of seemingly cosmic significance. Women seemed more prone than men to what the researchers dubbed the “Muse factor” effect. They linked their finding to Jaynes’s notion that the right or “god-side” of the preliterate bicameral mind could re-emerge in modern times in literary or musical creativity where consciousness is significantly altered. These authors, however, did not explain why their subjects were intensely emotional readers and writers of prose and poetry in the first place. …

… Right-hemispheric language dominance is rather rare. People with atypically lateralized brains are more likely to have mental illnesses or neurodevelopmental problems, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism. They are more likely to experience alien voices, and/or hold paranormal beliefs. While it would be very interesting to put Blake, Milton, or our latter day poets in an fMRI to see what lights up, we are constrained to use psychobiography and poetry itself to hypothesize about their inspired or dissociative tendencies.

Studying the lives and words of great poets and mediums of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, I have concluded that a genetic predisposition to atypically enhanced right-hemispheric or bilateral dominance, combined with childhood trauma and life-long voracious reading, will entrain a sense of presence along with poetic and religious proclivities and telepathic possibilities. Blake and Milton described their experience as direct dictation. Rilke, who experienced perhaps the most traumatic childhood, also claimed direct dictation in some instances. Victor Hugo, W.B. Yeats, James Merrill, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Jane Roberts, all of whom experienced childhood trauma, used techniques such as Ouija boards, séances, possession states or automatic handwriting. To dissociate their creative words and wisdom required another person — a shared coupling with linked minds—to write down the words. There were gender differences too, stemming from both cultural bias and differing neural underpinnings. The male dissociative poets I have studied suffered maternal attachment issues, but tended to erect a hierarchical and self-confirming system to return to homeostasis. The female poets were more often victims of childhood sexual abuse, depression and/or father loss, and were more prone to suicide. However, depressed male poets who have also committed suicide certainly exist. In any case, collaboration between the hemispheres and in creative or therapeutic dyads produced literary genius with a sense of presence along with metaphors for poetry.

All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.




Clay McNearney – Robert Bellah and Julian Jaynes: An Imagined Conversation

Audio download of Professor Clay McNearney’s lecture “Robert Bellah and Julian Jaynes: An Imagined Conversation.”

From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.

Summary: Julian Jaynes’s ideas are most at home in the prophetic world of ancient Judaism. Robert Bellah, following Karl Jaspers, is probably most dependent upon ancient Greece, but Bellah tries to provide a foundation for his argument from other civilizations as well, including ancient Judaism. In Bellah’s most recent book, Religion in Human Evolution, he works out a tentative position that seems to be quite compatible with Jaynes (though Bellah does not mention Jaynes). This might follow less from the historical data, extensive though that is, than from Bellah’s understanding of biological evolution. Jaynes suggests that even if the biology that lay behind his theory proves to be false and/or misguided, that would not invalidate his theory. In such statements, perhaps Jaynes was relying on a reading of historical and literary data more than biological. This talk imagines a conversation between Bellah and Jaynes that explores their common interests, data, conclusions, and directions for the future.

All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.




Consciousness, Language, and the Gods: Lectures on Julian Jaynes’s Theory

Eight audio lectures on Jaynes’s theory presented at the “Toward A Science of Consciousness” conference in April 2008 plus 6 tracks of bonus material on consciousness and language.

Contains over 4 hours of lectures, interviews, and bonus material on Julian Jaynes’s theory and related topics. Each lecture has been carefully edited to improve the overall quality.

Contents:
1. Jan Sleutels, Ph.D. – Recent Changes in the Structure of Consciousness? (19:29)
2. John Limber, Ph.D. – Consciousness is Just A Word: Julian Jaynes & Contemporary Psychology (24:09)
3. Brian J. McVeigh, Ph.D. – Ancient Religions (14:45)
4. Marcel Kuijsten – New Evidence for Jaynes’s Neurological Model (25:48)
5. Brian J. McVeigh, Ph.D. – Julian Jaynes & Neurotheology (20:19)
6. John Hainly – Mythological Consciousness: Jaynes’s Bicameral Mind & Vico’s Imaginative Universals (18:50)
7. Brian J. McVeigh, Ph.D. – Elephants in the Psychology Department: Hypnosis & Spirit Possession (23:18)
8. Marcel Kuijsten – Bicameral Dreams vs. Conscious Dreams (5:00)

Bonus Material:
9. Astrea Magazine Interview with Marcel Kuijsten on Julian Jaynes’s Theory (46:11)
10. Thought and Language: Part 1 (28:56)
11. Thought and Language: Part 2 (11:08)
12. Thought and Language: Part 3 (17:20)
13. Voices Inside You (12:53)
14. Thought & Language excerpt (10:08)

All files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the files.




Conversations on Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind: Interviews with Leading Thinkers on Julian Jaynes’s Theory

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Hardcover Edition

How old is consciousness? What is the relationship of consciousness and language? What is the origin of god beliefs and religion? Why do people hear voices that command their behavior? These are just a few of the fascinating questions posed by Princeton University psychologist Julian Jaynes’s influential and controversial theory and discussed in this book. A treasure trove of provocative ideas, Conversations on Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind explains, extends, clarifies, and presents the latest evidence for Jaynes’s theory in a series of highly engaging interviews with both voice-hearers and leading thinkers on the theory.

1st Julian Jaynes Society Hardcover Edition
August 22, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-7373055-3-8
376 pages

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Advanced Praise for Conversations on Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind:

“Julian Jaynes was my teacher in the early 1960s. … Much psychological science since then points to the possibility that he was right. Right about consciousness, right about ancient history, right about evolution, right about language, even right about Homer. This volume begins to close the gap, bringing Jaynes’s brilliance to the attention and appreciation of the contemporary public.”
Martin Seligman, Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Hope Circuit and Learned Optimism

“… A marvel of collective scholarship across multiple disciplines. … In this book, you will hear the voices of the most open-minded scholars of our generation.”
— William R. Woodward, Professor of Psychology, University of New Hampshire, and author of Hermann Lotze: An Intellectual Biography

“Rich with ideas and fertile speculations, this outstanding collection of expert interviews advances the revolutionary work of the psychologist Julian Jaynes.”
— Richard Rhodes, Historian and Pulitzer Prize Laureate for The Making of the Atomic Bomb

“… It is time for a new generation of … deep thinkers at the heart of every discipline to rediscover Julian Jaynes’s tantalizing hypotheses concerning the origin and nature of human consciousness. This collection of interviews … will enable contemporary readers to understand why Jaynes’s style of inquiry remains as captivating and compelling as ever — and as provocative and controversial. Reader: take the plunge, and join the conversation!”
— Christian Y. Dupont, Ph.D., Associate University Librarian for Collections and Burns Librarian, Boston College, and author of Phenomenology in French Philosophy: Early Encounters

“… Conversations on Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind helps us understand humanity’s development of consciousness over millennia, as well as how we learn it in our first years of life.”
Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D., author of Habits of a Happy Brain, The Science of Positivity, and Status Games

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Der Ursprung des Bewußtseins durch den Zusammenbruch der Bikameralen Psyche

Im Zentrum dieser wegweisenden Arbeit steht die revolutionäre Idee, dass das menschliche Bewusstsein nicht in der tierischen Evolution begann, sondern ein erlernter Prozess war, der durch Katastrophen vor nur dreitausend Jahren aus einer halluzinatorischen Mentalität hervorgegangen ist und sich noch entwickelt. Die Implikationen dieses wissenschaftlichen Paradigmas erstrecken sich auf praktisch jeden Aspekt unserer Psychologie, unserer Geschichte, unserer Kultur, unserer Religion — in der Tat unserer Zukunft. In den Worten des Rezensenten ist es „ein demütigender Text, der die meisten von uns, die ihren Lebensunterhalt durch Denken verdienen, daran erinnert, wie viel Denken noch zu tun ist.“

„Wenn Julian Jaynes… spekuliert, dass bis Ende des zweiten Jahrtausends v. Männer hatten kein Bewusstsein, gehorchten aber automatisch den Stimmen der Götter. Wir sind erstaunt, aber gezwungen, dieser bemerkenswerten These durch alle bestätigenden Beweise zu folgen.“ — John Updike, The New Yorker

„Die Ideen dieses Buches und dieses Mannes sind möglicherweise die einflussreichsten, um nicht zu sagen umstrittenen der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Es macht ganze Bücherregale überflüssig.“ — William Harrington, Columbus Dispatch

„Nachdem ich gerade The Origin of Consciousness beendet habe, fühle ich mich wie Keats Cortez, der auf den Pazifik starrt, oder zumindest wie die frühen Rezensenten von Darwin oder Freud. Ich bin mir nicht ganz sicher, was ich von diesem neuen Territorium halten soll. aber seine Weite liegt vor mir und ich bin erschrocken über seine Kraft.“ — Edward Profitt, Commonweal

„Er ist so verblüffend wie Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams, und Jaynes ist ebenso geschickt darin, eine neue Sicht auf bekanntes menschliches Verhalten zu erzwingen.“ — Raymond Headlee, American Journal of Psychiatry

„Das Gewicht des ursprünglichen Denkens in [diesem Buch] ist so groß, dass es mich für das Wohlergehen des Autors beunruhigt: Der menschliche Geist ist nicht dafür gebaut, eine solche Belastung zu tragen.“ — D. C. Stove, Encounter

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Dirk Corstens – The Origins of Voices: Life History and Voices & Lessons for Recovery

Audio download of Dirk Corsten’s lecture “The Origins of Voices: Life History and Voices & Lessons for Recovery”

From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.

Summary: Julian Jaynes’s book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind inspired an emancipatory approach and the emergence of international hearing voices networks and eventually Intervoice, a global emancipatory organization for voice hearers and their allies. From our perspective hearing voices is viewed as a personal but normal experience that people (can) learn to cope with. Voices make sense in the context of the voice hearer and his/her personal history. Understanding this process gives the opportunity to improve the relationship between voices and voice hearer and solve underlying problems. I will describe how we systematically make sense of these voices and support recovery by engaging with the voices. Several examples and a research project will be presented.

All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.




El Origen de la Conciencia en la Ruptura de la Mente Bicameral

En el corazón de esta fundamental obra está la revolucionaria idea de que la conciencia humana no comenzó con la evolución animal, pero que surgió como un proceso aprendido, a través de cataclismos y catástrofes, de una mentalidad alucinatoria hace solo tres mil años y sigue desarrollándose. Las implicaciones de este paradigma científico se extienden virtualmente dentro de cada aspecto de nuestra psicología, nuestra historia, nuestra cultura,  nuestra religión en efecto nuestro futuro. En las palabras de un crítico, es “un humilde texto, del tipo que nos recuerda a muchos de nosotros que vivimos nuestra vida a través del pensamiento, cuanto pensamiento todavía nos queda por hacer.”

“Cuando Julian Jaynes…especulaba que hasta muy tarde en el segundo milenio a.C. los hombres no tenían conciencia pero que automáticamente obedecían las voces de los dioses, nosotros estamos asombrados pero obligados a seguir esta notable tesis a través de toda la evidencia corroborativa.” — John Updike, The New Yorker

“Este libro y la idea de este hombre puede ser la más influyente, por no decir controversial, de la segunda mitad del siglo veinte. Convierte en obsoletos estantes enteros de libros.” — William Harrington, Columbus Dispatch

“Habiendo terminado The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind, yo mismo siento algo como lo que sintió el  Cortez de John Keats mirando al Pacifico, o al menos como los primeros críticos de Darwin o Freud. No estoy completamente seguro de que pensar sobre este nuevo territorio; pero se despliega frente a  mí y estoy sorprendido por su poder.” — Edward Profit, Commonweal

“Él es asombroso como Freud fue en The interpretation of dreams, y Jaynes es igualmente experto en forzar una nueva visión de la conducta humana conocida.” — Raymond Headlee, American Journal of Psychiatry

“El peso del pensamiento original en [este libro] es tan bueno que me hace sentir incómodo por el bienestar del autor: la mente del ser humano no está construida para soportar tal carga.” — D.C. Stove, Encounter

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Elisabeth Bell Carroll – A Vestige of the Bicameral Mind in the Modern World

Audio download of Elisabeth Bell Carroll’s lecture “A Vestige of the Bicameral Mind in the Modern World.”

From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.

Summary: Rick Strassman states in his essay, “Endogenous Hallucinations and the Bicameral Mind,” that DMT or N,N-dimethyltryptamine is a potent endogenous psychedelic found in the human body. Further, Strassman observes that the DMT and bicameral states have in common at least two characteristics: (1) previously unknown information is communicated and (2) there is an abiding certainty that the presence conveying this information is an independent other, existing externally. I have lived with temporal lobe epilepsy since childhood, and I examine my own auditory and visual hallucinations in the light of Strassman’s research, noting that the biochemistry of the spiritual experience may have bearing in my case. Indeed, I may have been able to manage my active relationship with the divine from ages 4-17 due, in part, to the relational nature of the DMT state, as I interacted in a perceptible environment with a free-standing independent other, who was hallucinated yet impossible to resist.

Further, I examine the sequential stages of Julian Jaynes’s bicameral-mind theory as they correspond to my own experiences of hearing the voice of an authoritative god. I was age 4 when my appendix ruptured. As our family priest anointed my body in a rite hours after surgery, Jesus appeared in the hospital room, leaned close and said, “Good night, Elisabeth.” Jesus spoke to me from time to time until I was 17, yet that summer He abandoned me. In my daily journal, I named this loss the Blessed Withdrawal of God. Although I had lived with petit mal seizures ever since the appendectomy, my parents had never consulted a physician about my malady. At age 17, I sought out a medical doctor (an oracle), hoping to awaken a lost certainty, wondering if the freeway to the consciousness of God had been opened by my seizures. Via a form of recapitulation theory, I present the Jaynesian stages as congruent to my own growth into subjective consciousness.

Hospital policy guidelines in 1954 were not child-centered as they are today, and parents were often advised against visiting an inpatient child. For weeks after surgery, I was pinned to the sheet of my crib to allow intravenous liquid to flow evenly. Jesus visited my cribside and spoke to me, in lieu of my parents, and I relate this coping resource to the phenomenon of sensed presences during extreme and unusual environments (EUEs), the research of John Geiger and Peter Suedfeld. Additionally, in my home the child who experienced auditory hallucinations and visions of God was not pathologized or medicated. A fervent Irish-Catholic family, we were uncritical of each other’s personal nearness to God, so in that regard, I hypothesize, we were like a family in bicameral society. Above all, I hope to show what it was like to have a stalwart knowing Other break into my private consciousness.

All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.




Gary Williams – Consciousness Behind Closed Doors: Julian Jaynes and the Refrigerator Light Problem

Audio download of Gary William’s lecture “Consciousness Behind Closed Doors: Julian Jaynes and the Refrigerator Light Problem.”

From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.

Summary: One question we might have about consciousness concerns its pervasiveness during waking life. We can divide views of pervasiveness into two broad camps: thin and thick. Julian Jaynes famously defends a thin view, arguing that consciousness is more fleeting than it is pervasive. On thick views, consciousness seems pervasive because it actually is pervasive throughout our waking life. On thin views, in contrast, humans are often fully awake, alert, and intelligently performing tasks without the presence of consciousness. Most people find the thin view unbelievable given the reasonable thought that if it seems like consciousness is pervasive, then it is pervasive. However, Jaynes argues this sense of pervasiveness is an illusion. In a memorable analogy, he likens our delusional belief in pervasiveness to a flashlight casting its beam about a dark room, and thus concluding light is everywhere. Analogously, we could ask whether the refrigerator light is always on even when the door is closed. A philosophical puzzle known as the “refrigerator light problem” arises when we try to decide between thin and thick views using introspection alone. In other words, if we cannot appeal to introspective evidence to decide between thin or thick views, how should the debate proceed? What evidence would settle the debate? Having set up the refrigerator light problem, I analyze several possible solutions as well as their prospects and implications for Jaynesian theory.

All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.




Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind: The Theories of Julian Jaynes

Softcover Edition

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

Click “Add to cart” above to purchase Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind directly from the Julian Jaynes Society.

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Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind: The Theories of Julian Jaynes (Discounted Copy)

Discounted Softcover Edition: Please note, the cover may have minor shipping or packaging blemishes. Book is new and never read with immaculate interior. Direct from publisher.

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.

* * *

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

Click “Add to cart” above to purchase Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind directly from the Julian Jaynes Society.

 

Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind (product flyer)




James Cohn – A Jaynesian Philology: The Bible as a Written Record of the Dawn of Consciousness

Audio download of Rabbi James Cohn’s lecture “A Jaynesian Philology: The Bible as a Written Record of the Dawn of Consciousness.”

From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.

Summary: In 1976, Julian Jaynes hypothesized that our ancestors were acculturated to understand their mental life in terms of obedient responses to auditory prompts, which they hallucinated as the external voice of God. Although these “bicameral” people could think and act, they had no awareness of choices or of choosing — or of awareness itself. Jaynes claimed that one could trace this cultural transformation over the course of a scant millennium by analyzing the literature of the Hebrew Scriptures (“Old Testament,” OT). Jaynes himself, however, was not skilled in Hebrew or cognate languages, and was forced to rely on translations and secondary sources. This presentation tests Jaynes’s assertions by examining passages from the OT text, as seen through the lens of the Documentary Hypothesis and modern critical historical scholarship. The writers of the oldest texts had no words in their cultural lexicon to correspond to our words such as “mind” or “imagination” or “belief.” Translations into English that employ such mentalistic words are misleading. By sharp contrast, in the later OT texts, a lexicon of rich interiority appears. The writers have become acculturated to experience mental life as a rich introspective consciousness, full of internal mind-talk and “narratization,” and perceiving their own actions as the result, not of obedience to an external voice, but of self-authorized, internal decisions. This presentation explores the relationship of introspective consciousness and language; the disappearance of prophetic voices in biblical literature over a specific time frame; the question of when and why a theory of mind arose in human development; and the appearance of vestiges of earlier mentalities in modern mental life.

All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.




Jan Sleutels – The Contingency of Mind: Situating Jaynes in the Changing Landscape of Contemporary Philosophy of Mind

Audio download of Professor Jan Sleutels’s lecture “The Contingency of Mind: Situating Jaynes in the Changing Landscape of Contemporary Philosophy of Mind.”

From the Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies.

Summary: Philosophy of mind in the second half of the twentieth century was dominated by various forms of reductionism and cognitivism. Despite many differences they shared a basically essentialist outlook, holding (mostly implicitly) that mental states, processes, properties, and competencies are properly analyzed as natural kinds. In keeping with this basic presumption, philosophers and cognitive scientists tended to dismiss historical and cultural considerations for purposes of understanding the nature of the human mind.

Among the factors that contributed to this ahistorical bias, three are particularly noteworthy. First, the primary concern of analytical philosophy was conceptual analysis. In the philosophy of mind this took the form of analyzing the conceptual apparatus of folk psychology, trying to establish necessary connections between folk concepts and their cognitive and neural conditions of use. The logical nature of this approach made it non-historical in principle.

Secondly, both cognitivism and reductionism endorsed the idea that the human mind supervenes on the biological brain, which was presumed to be responsive only to pressures on vast, evolutionary timescales. Brain architecture must have been substantially the same throughout most of human history. Hence, the nature of mental states, processes, properties, and competencies must have remained the same as well.

Finally, moral considerations made it hard to think otherwise. According to a long-standing Western tradition, the mind is the seat of human dignity and man’s defining characteristic. From that perspective, changes in the nature of conscious minds on anything short of an evolutionary timescale would seem to compromise the moral unity of mankind. Even if animals and early hominids can be excluded from our peer group (to which some would strongly object), drawing the line any closer to home is insufferable.

Looking back on the intellectual landscape of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, it makes perfect sense that Julian Jaynes was considered a maverick. There was simply no place for his historical approach to consciousness (Jaynes 1976). His theory was rejected on apriori grounds as conceptually incoherent, biologically impossible, and probably also morally suspect (cf. Sleutels 2006).

Today the situation is quite different, however. In the late 1990s the landscape started to shift towards a view of the mind as being contingent upon a variety of external factors. The so-called EEE approach (Embodied, Embedded, Enacted Cognition) drew attention to the ecological and cultural context of psychological competencies, while varieties of the Extended Mind hypothesis pointed up the importance of external tools (including language technologies) for the development of cognitive skills (Clark 2008). Critics of evolutionary psychology are questioning the presumption of psychological continuity that goes with essentialism (Sleutels 2013), while philosophers such as Hutto (2008) argue that our current self-understanding as thinking, conscious agents (our ‘folk psychology’) is contingent on socio-cultural practices.

In this paper I will situate Jaynes’s view of the origin of modern consciousness in the newly emerged landscape. I review some of the most pertinent developments in the philosophy of mind, including work in cognitive archaeology (Malafouris 2008) and so-called ‘radically enactivist’ theories of mind (Hutto and Myin 2013). I conclude by proposing a general argument for the contingency of mind that underscores the importance of Jaynes for future research.

All audio files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the file.




Julian Jaynes – Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind

A 90-minute audio recording of a lecture by Julian Jaynes, titled “Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind,” presented at Tufts University on October 14, 1982, plus bonus material.

Contents:
1. Introduction (5:13) (free preview)
2. Consciousness Defined – Part 1 (14:32)
3. Consciousness Defined – Part 2 (15:44)
4. The Bicameral Mind (15:45)
5. The Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (13:37)
6. Overview of Jaynes’s Neurological Model (6:09)
7. Vestiges of the Bicameral Mind / Question & Answer Session (19:26)

Bonus Material: Voices of the Mind
8. The Voices In My Head: Lecture (14:15)
9. Hearing Voices Part 1: Discussion with Voice Hearers & Clinicians (29:42)
10. Hearing Voices Part 2: Discussion with Voice Hearers & Clinicians (30:03)
11. Hearing Voices Part 3: Discussion with Voice Hearers & Clinicians (23:58)
12. Hearing Voices In Your Head? (11:23)

All files are in mp3 format. Upon payment you will receive a link to download the files.