Artikelen van Erik Weijers

The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind

Julian Jaynes's 1976 work views consciousness as an acquired set of language skills, rather than an innate quality of humankind. It is a 'mental tool box' largely based on metaphor. According to Jaynes, the 'invention' of subjective consciousness took shape in the course of centuries, thereby replacing the former mentality. This old mental make-up was what Jaynes calls the bicameral mind: a mind that was occupied by so-called gods, who directly spoke to man. Jaynes insists that these 'gods' were in no sense 'a way of speaking', but instead powerful experiences with hallucinatory quality.

Summary: How did human beings who lived five thousand years ago view themselves? How did they make decisions and how did they reflect on their past? Julian Jaynes gives a radical answer to these questions.

Quotes: The gods were in no sense ‘figments of the imagination’ of anyone. They were man’s volition. (p. 202) 

Review: For such a controversial book, it is remarkable how few scholars have made an attempt at an in-depth discussion, either favorable or unfavorable.

[There also is a Dutch translation of this section]


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