An excellent scholarly set of essays by different authors, each helping readers understand the essential ideas of Julian Jaynes. There is only one serious attempt to criticize his ideas, in Jan Sleutel's "Greek Zombies" article, for me the best chapter of all. Of course there are many other criticisms of Jaynes's Bicameral Theory than are featured here, arguments and theories which strike at the roots of every materialist viewpoint, but the few presented by Sleutel set us off in the right direction.
Like me you might feel that the final chapter could have been left out and the reader spared. I wanted to more about Jaynes and his ideas, not to learn Chinese.
A highly recommended book about a fascinating subject, problem, and genius in the form of Julian Jaynes. The question as to whether our ancestors had a sense of I, a sense of subjective consciousness, a capacity for introspection, and sense of individuality is explored here.
Of course, theories about the absence of introspection as a mental reality prior to three thousand years ago, may find support in the colorful sagas of Homer's Illiad, or from an analysis of the behavior of Old Testament characters, even of the behavior and activities of men from ancient China. It weakens considerably when we turn to pre-Celtic and Celtic lore.
The accounts of the world contained in the works of the Welsh bard Taliesin certainly reveal profound self-awareness. The proclamations of Irish sun-god Lugh as to his mastery of all the arts, clearly and definitely shows self-awareness, individuality and I-ness, as does the striking Song of Amergin, bard of the Milesian Gaels:
I am the wind on the sea,
I am a wave of the ocean,
I am the roar of the wave,
I am an ox of seven exiles,
I am a hawk on a cliffe,
I am a tear of the sun,
I am a turning in a maze,
I am a boar in valour,
I am a salmon in a pool,
I am a lake on a plain,
I am a dispensing power,
I am a grass-blade in the earth
Subject to decay,
I am a creative, weaving god
Who counsels the head.
Who else clears the stones of a mountain?
Who is it who declaims the sun’s rising?
Who is better to tell where the sun sets?
Who brings cattle from the house of Tethra?
Upon whom do th cattle of Tethra smile?
Who is the ox?
Who is the weaving god who mends the thatch of wounds?
The incantation of a spear - the incantation of the wind!
This poem or incantation is was recorded by monks in the Book of Leinster and Book of Invasions, but dates from a period of greater antiquity - the so-called Mythological Cycle of Irish prehistory. Whoever composed the story (probably as a personification of the sun through the 12 houses of the zodiac) was himself self-conscious and capable of composing highly metaphorical works.
There is nothing non-subjective, non-introspective and automatic about these statements, nor any in Lugh's delineation of his many skills, making him the "Samildanach."
The conversations between Arjuna and Krishna found in the Vedic Mahabharata, also show a high degree of self-consciousness.
This does not invalidate Jaynes' theory, but we must not accept it wholesale. In my estimation, the Bicameral Period probably did exist, but it was a temporary state of consciousness brought on by the effects and aftereffects of terrestrial cataclysm, as delineated by the great Immanuel Velikovsky.
Velikovsky's "Mankind in Amnesia" must be read by everyone tackling the theories of Julian Jaynes and his well-meaning advocates.
Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited Paperback – 15 May 2008
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- Language : English
- Paperback : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 097907441X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0979074417
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WHAT WERE THE ANCIENTS THINKING? WERE THEY THINKING AT ALL?19 March 2016 - Published on Amazon.com
6 people found this helpful
Thought Provoking26 July 2015 - Published on Amazon.com
Thoughtful analyses from thoughtful people.
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A must read for any fan of Julian Jaynes, and especially for his critics.31 August 2015 - Published on Amazon.com
Very good updated research, explanations, and discussion about the bi-cameral mind.
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Santo J. Demauro
Getting lost in time.2 December 2012 - Published on Amazon.com
This is 1 of 5 books I am in the process of reading. Very thought provoking and well written, but you have to be into the subject matter. I'm sure most people wouldn't be at all interested but that's just their bicameral mind at work.
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