Re: virus: Bicameral consciousness
Mon, 4 Jan 1999 17:07:08 EST

In a message dated 1/4/99 10:02:17 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< didn't Julian Jaynes support the idea that the "bicameral-mind" sort of people were "not conscious" in "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" ?

And if people could speak and act and build buildings and create art and religion(s) and still be "not conscious" then it's not all that great a leap to imagine a "not conscious" reacting/interacting machine of silicon hardware could trick some folks into believing that it was "exhibiting consciousness".

th >>

As David said, and I confirm, it is my general impression that Jayne's theory has been largely discredited. But don't take that as authority, only my perception of it.

My take on this. Jaynes was identifying something. But what he was identifying was just another step in the unfolding of consciousness as we experience it today. This was a cultural step in the evolution of narrative. Robust narrative certainly is a cultural feature that enhances consciousness.

Attributing culture - instructions and sayings and so forth - to its sources, instead of handy "god" thingies, is one such step in the evolution of robust personal narrative. I think Jaynes went way overboard in identifying this something as the "orgin of consciousness". Nevertheless it was a something.

I agree in part however, that perhaps we glorify consciousness to an unrealistic degree, assuming that many things could not be done by the "less than conscious" agent. There was a time when some thought that performing mathematical computation was the sine qua non of consciousness. As you can imagine, that is no more.

-Jake P.