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Bicameral Mind

Professor Julian Jaynes has written a controversial book called The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. In the book he hypothesizes that consciousness as we know it did not develop in man until about 2000 BC. Until then, we did not think introspectively, he says. In fact, people were probably more like modern-day schizophrenics, in whom there appear to be two minds. One, controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain takes actions, and the other, controlled by the right side, dreams and hears voices. For proof, Mr. Jaynes (he walked away from the title of Ph.D. although fully qualified) looks at ancient books including the Bible. In the Old Testament he says there is no mention of the subjective I, no introspective thinking, no sense of self. But in the later New Testament, the features of modern consciousness take shape.

How could the pyramids and other construction take place then? Introspective thinking was not necessary, he asserts, just as you can drive a car without theorizing about how the car’s engine works.

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