I’ve been introduced to Julian Jaynes and his " Bicameral Mind Theory" theory.
Interesting stuff, not all of it feels right, but what do I know except that my first dismissal turned around soon as I started reading about it.
It didn’t take long to realize he’s worth learning about. So am listening to an interesting YouTube introduction.
I’m curious if anyone around here is familiar with Julian Jaynes.
Other thing I’m really curious about is if there’s micrographic (CT, MRI, PET, etc) evidence of lateral brain hand off of information in the way that Jaynes postulates.
My gut feeling is that a lot of it is incorrect from the biological evolutionary fact of it, however he defines the issues in way that’s good to think about.
There are three elements to Jaynes’ theory of the origins of consciousness: (1) his definition of consciousness, (2) his notion of the bicameral mind, and (3) his argument that consciousness emerged following the breakdown of the bicameral mind. In terms of his definition of consciousness, Jaynes starts by telling us what consciousness is not, chipping away at the common misconceptions that he believes have hindered a more complete understanding of this phenomenon.
Following this process of elimination, Jaynes arrives at the following definition of consciousness:
Subjective conscious mind is an analogue of what is called the real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogues of behaviour in the physical world. Its reality is of the same order as mathematics. It allows us to shortcut behavioural processes and arrive at more adequate decisions. Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing or repository. And it is intimately bound up with volition and decision (Jaynes, 1993, p. 55).
On this view, he sees language as fundamental to consciousness, which then opens up the possibility of unlocking the origins of consciousness by studying our linguistic historical record; an endeavour that Dennett (1986) calls “software archaeology.”
It is interesting to note here that Jaynes’ definition of consciousness, quoted above, is also relevant to our discussion of volition, given that he explicitly links consciousness and volition.