Of The Beast and The Bi-Cameral Mind, Part I

You’re at Free the Animal, but what kind of animal are you?

You’re less strong, less fast, and less a tree prodigy than almost all other primates. And yet, you rule the Earth. Importantly.

…After all, do you have envy of wandering into the forest, trying to strike up a conversation?

Of course not, because you’re so far removed evolutionarily that you can even imagine that a space alien created you, rather than that you are of some similar evolved lineage, and that they behave in mysteriously similar ways, both individually and socially. …And if you don’t believe me, go get a porn orgy video (of humans). Then watch Discovery, Animal Planet, or whatever else it takes to see chimpanzees behaving as they do.

Then take a pause.

I won’t belabor the point, as some find such a thing abhorrent; while at the same time, I embrace it with a certain wonder; a real, not fantastical wonder (that doesn’t involve a space alien with sooper pow3rz).

…It was about this time of year, 21 years ago, that I read two books that changed the course of my life forever. For now, I’ll keep one of those confidential, but the other one was out and about enough. You can see it to the right.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. How is that for a mouthful? The author has been at room temperature for a while, now, since 1997: Julian Jaynes. And yet he hasn’t really died, as guys like Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett have both referenced him (though I have not looked into the how, why, and what).

That’s all by way of introduction. While it’s best you read the book, only a very few diehards will, so now, I’ll give you an intro to what it’s about and in subsequent posts, I’ll address what it means to you and yours, because I think it means a lot, and penetratingly so.

I hold in my hands his book, which numbers 469 pages before the references start…and I only have it in my hands for two reasons. 1) I accidentally sold it amongst a stack of books to the used bookstore in Arnold, CA; and on a subsequent visit, seeing it on the shelves, bought it back, and 2) I was up at the cabin this last weekend and I retrieved it, because it figures importantly into my manifesto.

Manifesto Manishesco. Who gives a shit, really? …because we move on. But sometimes something is important and this book was important to me, in terms of how it gave me pretty instant recovery over understanding what certain voices in my head were all about.

Now make no mistake. Jaynes is about actual schizophrenia, i.e., the voices are fucking real, i.e., audible. That is, you don’t differentiate them from a real voice, and you don’t really confuse them with your “mid voice.”

Alright, let me summarize. Actually, no, Let Jack Trimpey summarize, because as I was Googling around about more recent dealings with this important book, I stumbled upon a Kindle ebook which can be read in a couple of hours: The Triumph of Addiction Recovery in the Breakdown of the Bicameral, Addictive Voice, or, Who Killed Julian Jaynes?

In his highly controversial work, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, cultural anthropologist and historical psychologist Julian Jaynes, Ph.D., set forth the awkward-sounding hypothesis that human consciousness did not arise entirely from evolving, neural “hardware,” but resulted from unsuccessful adaptive struggles of homo sapiens within the last 10,000 years, more likely around one to three millennia BCE, around the time that written language became established, marking the very beginning of human history. Jaynes brings the startling proposition and insight that human consciousness is a relatively recent development. Until only about 5000 to 6000 years ago, homo sapiens existed as unconscious, robotic animals, without subjective awareness, self-concept, self-direction, planning, introspection, reflection, and abstract reasoning possible only in the realm of consciousness. According to Dr. Jaynes, the bicameral mind was the precursor to human consciousness which greatly distinguishes modern man from his ancient, bicameral ancestors.

Jaynes drew upon the neuroscience of his day to model a bicameral mind arising from a divided, two-part brain wherein the right (god) hemisphere “talks” to the left (man) hemisphere, issuing directions and commands based upon perceptions of problems in one’s environment. Such commands were experienced as vividly-heard, possibly even hallucinated, mental voices experienced as external entities, i.e., “gods.” Bicameral voice-commands were responses to novelty, frustration, danger, stress, or threats to survival, actually precursors to conscious, contemplative decision making and problem solving. The bicameral voice was an expression of survival instinct, so survival itself depended upon faithful obedience to it. Our prehistoric ancestors did not plan their days or have itineraries; instead, god-voices orchestrated the daily drama of survival in a hostile world, voices which they were unable to disobey because they possessed no conscious mind-space in which to consider disobedience or imagine other alternatives.

As modern human beings, we are mixed, living most of our lives bicamerally, on autopilot mode, scarcely paying attention to the complexities of daily living, but resorting to conscious problem-solving in mind-space as needed. We also daydream in a realm of consciousness, and often create new concepts to serve artistic or practical interests. For example, driving a car is very complex behavior, but usually done quite automatically and effortlessly, even though we are quite alert and aware of the changing surroundings and the tasks at hand. Consciousness, however, is a problem solving mode which occurs in subjective mind-space, such as when one might mentally balance his checkbook while driving a car through traffic, or figure on how to deal with a difficult child while cooking breakfast. The arms and legs do the work on their own, with little conscious attention, while, in our conscious thoughts, we are engaged in some very complicated issues, analytical thinking, and abstract reasoning. We imagine the minds of others, explaining and predicting their feelings and behavior, and we make plans into a future we can “see” in our heads.

Before the dawn of human consciousness, however, life literally happened to homo sapiens. Our bicameral ancestors were not self-aware, nor able to compare various strategies and choose among them. Nor did they anticipate or imagine the feelings or thoughts of others, for they had no inner lives of their own upon which to base such reasoning. There was no past to recall nor future to contemplate and, because their behavior was reflexively automatic, they were incapable of shame, guilt, or remorse. Although savage in their daily affairs, they were as innocent as children or any other beings without consciousness of moral principles.

Bicameral man experienced god-voices as part of natural reality – the god of the hunt, the god of weather, and such. For good fortune on the hunt, the god of the hunt must be appeased, perhaps with a portion thrown into the fire. The riveting voices of gods could also be elicited by certain stimuli such as totems and large-eyed statues and figurines, following the significance of eyes and eye contact in the primordial drama of survival. We might strenuously compare a figurine around the neck as a source of direction to an ancient version of the iPod. Using their priestly skills and demeanor, shamans and other tribal leaders could invoke bicameral voices which commanded a code of social conduct for cooperative functioning of primitive families, communities, and societies.

As conditions for survival become more challenging, resulting from such stress as famine, war, overlapping or competing cultures, or resulting from cataclysms and natural catastrophes such as floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, or climate change, the menagerie of bicameral gods was no longer sufficient to solve problems critical for survival. The advent of writing itself may have squelched bicamerality, such as when god-voices were transcribed into information gained visually rather than aurally. It appears that cultural diversity was fatal for ancient civilizations which depended upon consistent direction by commonly accepted god-voices, such as when war resulted in overlapping cultures having different sets of god-voices. Natural cataclysms presented problems of safety and relocation for which their gods where entirely unprepared, creating dire necessities which gave birth to the invention of consciousness. Finally, in the face of annihilation, when nothing the gods said would work, some individuals experienced a sudden breakdown of the bicameral mind, a moment of clarity during which one could see — objectively at last! — his predicament and his own role in the solution.

Just when all seemed lost, our unconscious ancestor popped a mind, a mental space in which he could envision both himself and his impending problem of survival. Arising literally out of nowhere, came this new, objective viewing point, a vision of the presenting problem through a free-floating eye in mind-space, a subjective, virtual world of operational consciousness in which he was able to manipulate his surroundings and experimentally navigate here and there. No longer was he compelled, for example, to obey a disembodied voice commanding, “Follow the sun to food.” In the private theater of his newfound mind, he was able to “see” that he might stay put and allow food to come to him instead.

For thousands of years, perhaps throughout most of the era of the Old Testament, inner voicegods continued to speak, but finally they no longer gave truth and did not remove threats. Many longed for a return of the voice-gods, which provided emotional security in a hostile world, and they called into the sky for the voice-god to speak, but alas, they were alone, desperately alone in life, seeking animistic solace in the environment or some great beyond. The bicameral godvoices receded, leaving increasing numbers of conscious human beings without the solace and comfort of the omniscient god-voices of their own ancestors. Thus, oracles emerged as representatives of the absent gods, giving oral renditions of their own, vestigial bicamerality, uttering whatever wisdom or nonsense which came forth to them. These performances were of intense interest in the ancient world, even to leaders of empires and states seeking divine guidance in their endeavors, or seeking guarantees for their own intuitions. The Oracle of Delphi takes on new significance in the light of Jaynesian theory, as is the case with many other historical matters.

Indeed, much of organized religion today appears to be based upon the bicameral experiences of their founders, who typically claim spiritual and metaphysical revelations which they acquired audibly, through the mind’s ear, and then transcribed to scriptures and holy books. The pursuit of religion may be understood as profound nostalgia for the bicameral god-voice which is an aural expression of our combined survival drives, i.e., the force of life itself. In the last analysis, the only way any god can communicate with homo sapiens is aurally, using a familiar language perceived through the mind’s ear, which hears all that may be heard. Thus the bicameral scribes of religious scriptures were transcribing, taking dictation, as their title suggests. Prayer, for example, is a call to God which many report is answered with improved intuitions on personal affairs, which might be understood in the context of the mixed, bicameral nature of modern man. As it was said, “In the beginning, was the word…and the word was God.”

Even in this light, religious doctrine should be neither cavalierly nor aggressively discounted because in reality, it was the bicameral voice-god of survival which guided our ancestors through eons of struggles to survive, although largely by killing, raping, stealing, plundering, etc. Eventually, the voice-gods of the jungle evolved into higher-level bicamerality rejecting the law of the jungle in favor of the pro-family, pro-social values necessary for survival in an increasingly crowded, complex world. The newer god-voices rebuked our barbaric, animal nature by serving up admonitions (moral injunctions) against barbarism which reversed predatory law in order to preserve families and civilization. A new family-centered law was set forth in a mixed bicameral moral code made known by the objective, written word of various religions, scriptures which expressed the bicameral will of a single, voiceless deity, one which was essentially hostile to barbarism and associated with “human” qualities of guilt, shame, love, and so on. The written word brought god-voices out of the treetops into the written word of various religions, scriptures which expressed the bicameral will of a single, voiceless deity, one which was essentially hostile to barbarism and associated with “human” qualities of guilt, shame, love, and so on. The written word brought god-voices out of the treetops into the written word, giving rise codes of conduct and religions which protected families, nations and civilizations from internecine barbarity. In the light of Jaynesian thought, we might view human history as a dynamic outcome of the twilight of the gods and our struggle to adapt to a universe which does not speak directly to us as it originally did.

Because Jaynes’ model of consciousness is based on powerful, although liberal, interpretation of archeological and anthropological evidence summarized in Origins, his theory initially met with considerable criticism due to its paucity of compelling evidence and our inability to conduct mental status exams on the deceased. However, Origin has withstood that criticism for decades due to the irresistible appeal of an hypothesis which illuminates, explains, and prompts further investigation.

The Jaynesian hypothesis stands as a possible Rosetta Stone for unraveling some of the mysteries of the human condition, but it also stands as an uncompleted work by a deceased scholar. At face value, however, the Jaynes hypothesis is a way to re-read the history of civilization and religious scriptures from a new, unique viewing point, often to reach exciting perspectives and insights, adding a new dimension to many old, unsettled matters, which when so illuminated suddenly take on a different feel and meaning.

For example, why were prehistoric peoples, even those with language and writing, strangely unconcerned about recording their experiences for posterity? Why did they have so little to say and why were the characters of ancient times so vacuous, so witless, so mute on the obvious, so zombie-like? Why were ancient personalities so preoccupied with gods? Why did they tell us such far-fetched stories and make such impossible claims? Why are ancient scriptures so laced with divine violence, vengeance, and reports of voices and visions? How could our not-so-ancient ancestors have literally believed in and worshipped a menagerie of gods which by comparison would put Italian opera to shame? Why are sacred scriptures so filled with voices, “…thus saith the Lord” and long, first-person, direct quotes of God?

Trimpey, Jack (2009-03-18). The Triumph of Addiction Recovery in the Breakdown of the Bicameral, Addictive Voice, or, Who Killed Julian Jaynes? (Kindle Locations 96-102). Lotus Press. Kindle Edition.

In the next few parts, I’ll cover what I have found in terms of my own reflection and synthesis over various topics including chronic pain, addiction (neolithic food, substance abuse, drugs), and stupid ideas.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Sean on November 4, 2011 at 02:15

    I wonder if Gene Wolfe (whom I consider perhaps the world’s greatest living author) was influenced by TOOCATBOTBM, especially when writing his Soldier series set in ancient Greece. In the books, Latro suffers a head injury which causes amnesia but also causes him to interact with the gods on a regular basis. Wolfe alludes to it somewhat in this old interview:

    I think that the gods of paganism were real. But what I tried to do was to write about that pagan world as the pagans themselves wrote about it. If we read modern historians we are reading a very rationalistic viewpoint of this which says that all of these people were absolutely wasting their time by building temples to Ares or Apollo or you name it. And by offering sacrifices in worship and all that it was nothing there. Nothing at all there and that whether it is true or not that certainly is not the way the people who were doing it felt. They were convinced that there was something there and they had all sorts of legends and so forth about the appearances of the god and in fact there is one place in the Acts where Paul and another one of the apostles are mistaken for Zeus and Mercury. Zeus and Hermes, we are mixing the Latin and the Greek which is what I was trying to get away from. They are mistaken for Zeus and Hermes in human form because people in those days expected that you could see Zeus and Hermes in human form. I am not so sure they were wrong. I am not convinced that they were wrong. We love to think how much smarter we are than people of ancient times or biblical times or so forth but I am very dubious about that.

    Latro is a classic Wolfeian unreliable narrator. But the literal acceptance of the gods appearing and interacting with people in the world Latro inhabits seems to be indicative of a people in transition to a modern mentality from ancient bicamerality.


    Oh, never mind, I just found out that Wolfe apparently wasn’t influenced by Jaynes–damn you Google. Either way, the Latro books are awesome. http://www.urth.net/urth/archives/v0021/0018.shtml:

    In 1991 I wrote Gene Wolfe, asking him whether he had read Jaynes,
    and whether that had influenced _Soldier_.

    He wrote back saying that he had not read Julian Jaynes’ book _The
    Origin_of_Consciousness_in_the_Breakdown_of_the_Bicameral_Mind_ until
    after he wrote _Soldier_, and found the book’s hypothesis implausible.


    So there you have it–a beautiful theory slain by a single ugly fact.

  2. Boblo on November 3, 2011 at 18:50

    Not sure if you can be aware of a god, i.e. a consciousness outside of yourself, without having consciousness yourself.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2011 at 21:20


      You might want to read it again. The gods were internal. It’s really the whole point. As they weren’t real, we eventually conjured external ones after the advent of consciousness.

  3. Ryan S on November 3, 2011 at 18:57

    sounds like an interesting book. It has always baffled me how people could believe in any of the rediculous religious stories. Maybe this explains it.

  4. Alex Good on November 3, 2011 at 21:11

    This brings up the possibility that certain mental deficiencies could simply be a more or less ancient form of thinking.
    And if the voices help us survive then killing government officials and parking patrol officers is self defense. Food for thought.

  5. Koanic on November 3, 2011 at 21:24

    That is a fascinating quote. I am a Christian, but I recognize this as a genuine intellectual contribution. I just posted it with commentary on my blog.

  6. J. Stanton on November 3, 2011 at 21:56

    Didn’t figure you for a Jaynes fan, Richard. I have my own theories and interpretations based on TOOCATBOTBM…but I’ll be very interested to see what you took out of it.

    To potential readers: it’s an easier read than the title would suggest, and doesn’t assume encyclopedic knowledge of ancient history or civilizations. Not that it’s light reading…but it’s not out of reach.


    • Richard Nikoley on November 3, 2011 at 22:07


      I myself am beginning to find it unsurprising that so many people I know and with whom I share commonalities are familiar with such literary obscurity,

      Evolution happens in mysterious ways.

  7. Texas Arcane on November 4, 2011 at 00:38

    I got steered over here after a tip from my fellow Neanderthal Koanic. I’m a christian as well and both you and Jaynes have excellent insights into the nature of human existence. His bicameral mind is one of my all time favorite books, I put it right behind FOUR ARGUMENTS FOR THE ELIMINATION OF TELEVISION on my top 100 list.

    Yes, it truly is as if Homo Sapiens is some kind of … well, zombie, isn’t it? It’s almost as if he were some sort of custom domesticated animal who could barely remember his own name. A robot who follows pre-scripted patterns like the animatronics at Disneyworld, a human simulator.

    When you were pointing out how little interest Sapiens appears to have had in recording his own internal life, of course this would not apply to the Neanderthals, who were clearly obsessed with such things, spending countless thousands of hours in narrow little caves by candlelight using every square inch to record everything that happened to them, including their own dreams. When they ran out of wall space, french archeologists suddenly realized these crazy creatures had then begun to paint and carve in the floor. Publish or perish, it would appear. When we say that Homo Sapiens appears to have had no internal life or any evidence of individual consciousness, can we really say that about a hominid like Neanderthal who was so insecure he couldn’t go out hunting without first painting some kind of John Woo action film with him as the star killing about ten Woolly mammoths at once by chucking a spear sideways in bullet time? Neanderthals give the impression of being so deeply influenced by their own dreams they could scarcely find time to live in the real world. Walter Mitty with bones like titanium and superhuman strength. Check out my new cave painting bitches, it shows the massive damage I’m going to be doing this season when I go mammoth hunting. The actual hunt is anti-climax, it may not even live up to the awesome action flick blockbuster I painted on the cave wall first.

    You see, the two species were as diametrically psychologically opposite in every way that it is possible to be and still have the same numbers of legs, arms, fingers and toes. The similarity ends there. The constant confusing of the two species as being somehow similar is an ongoing terrible insult to the Neanderthal people, who were never a race of slack-jawed, limpid-eyed dribbling vegetables like Homo Sapiens.

    Total # of cave paintings attributed to Sapiens before 38,000 years in Europe = Zero. I’m sorry, we have some lovely consolation prizes, Sapiens, please do come back sometime to compete again. Just shamble over there by the curtain and see if you can find your way out.

    • Koanic on November 4, 2011 at 00:44

      Dude that’s hilarious.

      Also you’ve got to share your 100 top books.

      • Sean on November 4, 2011 at 10:00

        Shut the fuck up you goddamned racist!!!

        I think John Hawks has some of the most interesting things to say on this subject. He’s been banging the Neandertal drum for quite a while. He points out that the 1-4% Neandertal DNA we seem to have is actually a hell of a lot considering how far back it goes, it obviously contributed to some positive selection.

      • Dan Linehan on November 4, 2011 at 11:32

        I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during some of the battles that led up to their (near) extinction.

        “People whose ancestry lies outside Africa are significantly more like Neandertals than are people who live in Africa today. In this study, the authors include whole genomes from people in France, China and Papua New Guinea outside Africa, and Yoruba and San inside Africa. The Africans are not as close to the Neandertal as any of the non-Africans.”

        Had never heard that. Very interesting.

      • Texas Arcane on November 4, 2011 at 10:46

        You don’t say? Well, you learn something new everyday. Neanderthals and humans interbreeding? Man, this is mindblowing! I can’t believe it. Fantastic stuff, hit me like a ton of bricks. The shockwaves of this discovery have stunned me into silence. We bred with Neanderthals? Holy cow! Man, this is out there!

        Somewhere in the collected monographs of Eric Trinkhaus and about a million pages of peer reviewed works over the past five years alone, I must have missed it. I thought that Paabo-Stoneking and their 286PC running an excel spreadsheet with no audit trail for the data and no peer review had already concluded that we have no Neanderthal ancestry. This is unbelievable, I’d better sit down to absorb this.

      • Dan Linehan on November 4, 2011 at 11:16

        GLAD TO HELP.

        /I hate being out snarked dammit.

      • Sean on November 4, 2011 at 11:29

        Somehow, I can’t but help read this sort of wall of prissy sarcasm without picturing a fat balding guy prancing about his living room wearing a tutu and Elton John glasses.

      • Koanic on November 4, 2011 at 11:42

        Some corners of the psyche are best kept private.

      • Sean on November 4, 2011 at 11:56

        Funny, that’s what my psychiatrist said right before I ate her liver with a nice Chianti and some fava beans.

      • Koanic on November 4, 2011 at 12:05

        Did you also steal her armchair?

      • Sean on November 4, 2011 at 12:34

        Heh, I see what you did there. It doesn’t quite work but is still pretty clever.

  8. Texas Arcane on November 4, 2011 at 00:54

    Oh and I forgot. Homo Sapiens was the winnarz, which proves he is the bestest.

  9. A fascinating challenge to religion | Koanic Soul on November 4, 2011 at 02:12

    […] the following quote, found via Free the Animal, is a fascinating hypothesis with deep implications for koanic […]

  10. Txomin on November 4, 2011 at 05:34

    More philosophical than biological, really, and it ultimately rests on too many assumptions. Still, it is sufficiently sophisticated to entertain… and confuse.

  11. Steve on November 4, 2011 at 06:12

    Very interesting. I’m trying to process this. How does this square with what we think we know about our evolutionary history? If all humans on the planet have consciousness, and if all humans have a common ancestor of about 50K years ago or so, but this change occurred roughly 3K years ago, how do we explain the change occurred to all humans? Gene expression? The advent of writing and the receipt of information visually causes a brain change in each individual? And can we explain the complex civilizations prior to that time (i.e. the pyramid-building Egyptians) without meta consciousness? I personally don’t doubt that religion is largely based on our brain processes as described by Jaynes, but I wonder if his timing isn’t off by several thousand years.

    • anand srivastava on November 9, 2011 at 21:20

      Very good Steve. Those are very good points. I also find 3K years time frame as totally fantastic. Is she saying African tribe people have no consciousness. Are they animals? If something like this happened it had to happen at least before humans moved out of Africa, something like 50-70K years. It cannot have happened sooner.

  12. Dan Linehan on November 4, 2011 at 06:12

    Basically, all of this seems to come back to imagination. Imagination is what allows us to predict the future accurately, to understand cause and effect. Imagination allows us to explore science, by creating hypotheses and then testing them.

    But while imaginations are our greatest evolutionary acheivement, they are also our greatest evolutionary curse. Billions of people believe in things that have nothing to do with reality, such as gods and religions. The smarter someone is, frequently the more hyperactive their imagination is as well, meaning intelligence frequently doesn’t correlate with a realisitic worldview. Hence the idea of “living in your own world.”

    I don’t think animals have imaginations like we do. They can’t conceptualize symbolic language or cause and effect, so they simply aren’t as smart. But to make a claim that we evolved imaginations in only 5,000 years or so seems specious. The neo-cortex has been developing for millions of years, not just a

    That being said, I suspect we may have started killing off humans with worse imaginations around 10,000 years ago, and greatly accelerated the selective pressure on that particular trait. Good murderers are imaginative, and history is full of bloody battles where nothing was more important than an imaginative strategy.

    The probably explains the massive development of language and abstract thinking in such a short period of time.

  13. pfw on November 4, 2011 at 06:25

    Hmm. I have trouble buying this in an evolutionary context. If the pressures which lead to the creation of the conscious mind show up post-Illiad in human history, then most isolated HG societies would have not undergone the transition – they are under far less social pressure than Greece was at the time, or pyramid builders in Egypt, or Gilgamesh era India. Yet I can’t seem to find examples of non-introspective HG societies. They certainly have a more integrated god-experience than we do, but that doesn’t translate into a total lack of introspection as suggested by this theory.

    Maybe further back, sure, we were literal god-voice following robots. It’s attractive as an explanation for this god fetish we can’t get off our backs. But I think it’s probably not fully accurate, as if it were, we should be able to find some group of humans living in the jungle

    • pfw on November 4, 2011 at 06:27

      er, weird, half post. Finishing that thought..

      We should be able to find some group of humans living in the jungle who exhibit communal mind as suggested by Jaynes. I think it’s more probable that humans have been conscious for far longer than he suggests.

      • Sean on November 4, 2011 at 07:42

        Yeah, I don’t buy it either, but I remember the book making a big splash when it came out. I still think religion originated from a desire to find patterns and explanations, a natural and universal thing for hunter-gatherers, hence the universality of religion.

    • Contemplationist on November 7, 2011 at 12:51

      Minor correction: Gilgamesh was a Mesopotamian not Indian epic.

  14. Matthew on November 4, 2011 at 10:14

    While interesting, there seems to me to be a glaring hole.

    Ostensibly, humans existed like this for thousands of years “hearing” these God-voices. But if the bicameral mind pre-dates the existence of a spoken language, what were they hearing?

    We as humans, have an interesting way of personifying other animals, as well as our ancestors. Whenever stories are told from animal perspectives, instincts always seem to be talking to the animal as well “I need to eat.”

    However, I think it’s apparent from our own experience that bodily impulses are much more to blame, then voices, for activities that the body needs done. When you need to go to the bathroom you feel an urge in your bladder, and a pit in your stomach when you are hungry.

    So it seems hard to comprehend that this is the way we operated for thousands of years.

    That being said I obviously have not read the original text, and will definitely consider doing so.

  15. Richard Nikoley on November 4, 2011 at 10:24

    “Ostensibly, humans existed like this for thousands of years “hearing” these God-voices. But if the bicameral mind pre-dates the existence of a spoken language, what were they hearing?”

    It’s been 21 years since I read this book but my recollection is that this bi-camerality _is_ actually a function of a spoken language, i.e., something that exists _between_ the point of spoken language and fully developed introspective consciousness.

    I’m diving into the book again, of course.

  16. Texas Arcane on November 4, 2011 at 10:54

    I for one have never been convinced that any of you show evidence of any real consciousness now, much less 3000 years ago.

    Here is what I have concluded after reading the Bicameral hypothesis twenty years after I first encountered it.

    I think until around 3,000 years ago, Homo Sapiens was idling on standby, still waiting for command words from his masters, creatures who likely perished over 80,000 years ago. At some point very recently, Homo Sapiens realized he was not going to get any more marching orders and to some degree took the reins for the first time in his evolutionary history. I agree with Jaynes that up to this point he never really showed characteristics we associate with real humans beings – like Neanderthals.

    So we could say the stolen genes he got from the Amud seemed to kick in about 3 millennia ago and he basically relaxed from the parade rest stance for the first time in his existence. Realizing his masters were gone and weren’t coming back, he began to take some small initiatives in self-directed behaviours and they paid off handsomely for him.

    Of course, any capacity for self-directed behaviour would be a direct legacy of the Mousterian genes he acquired after slaughtering and eating the Neanderthals of Europe and gang-banging their women.

    One is reminded strongly of the ancient legend of the ghoul, who after killing his victim and eating his flesh, receives all his memories and for a short time, comes to believe he is the creature he has consumed. Unfortunately, like a pig going back to his own vomit, he is rarely able to organize a civilization that lasts much longer than a hundred years before it starts to collapse back on itself, the way ours is doing right now.

    • Krist Slayer on May 9, 2016 at 09:29

      “Of course, any capacity for self-directed behaviour would be a direct legacy of the Mousterian genes he acquired after slaughtering and eating the Neanderthals of Europe and gang-banging their women. ”

      It would be nice if you actually had the sliver of evidence for that. Actual proof shows cro-magnons were direct descendants of neanderthals with no invasion ever. The fiction called the rape of neander women never happened nor could it. Niggers did not exist at the time so cro-magnons were THE original white guys. Your childish notions of a neanderthal genocide never happened. Neanderthals were the masters of genocide and were responsible for killing and eating all the denisovans and the sima de los huesos tribe where they ripped heads off with their bare hands. If sapiens tried anything of the sort then they would also be eaten bones and all.
      If saps is responsible for the neanderthal extinction, then why oh why do cannibalised bones have MASSIVE dental marks all over??? The issue with your story is that human teeth cannot leave marks. Especially the “weak sapiens” who apparently looked like people today. The funniest part is when you realise that sapiens only encountered neanderthals in the middle east. Clearly you have never read of Skhul-Qafzeh, let alone the fact that you cannot tell the difference twixt a cro-magnon and an original sapiens.
      Of course Cro-magnon man just looked like a robust god compared to most people now, not the “EBIL BLACKS” that you say they were. Cro-magnon man was the furthest fucking thing from negroes and looked better than your obese ass in every-fucking way. HALF a punch from Oberkassel’s fist and you would be deader than a fucking rat filled with ants maggots and worms. Your inability to handle surprise is absolutely tragic. I can only imagine how traumatising it was for you to experience halloween at age 10 and you feel on the floor crying from a pop-up ghost.

  17. tess on November 4, 2011 at 11:30

    fascinating ideas — i think i’m going to have to *hunt* this one up…. (expression used intentionally).

  18. joemama on November 4, 2011 at 15:15

    Thanks for bringing this one up…just ordered it from B&N

    For those interested, the following seems like a good review of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind:


    Interesting…thanks again

  19. Boblo on November 5, 2011 at 14:04

    Not sure if you can imagine an external entity without having consciousness yourself. It’s possible to infuse an object with your own consciousness (using imagination), but without having your own consciousness I don’t think it would be possible to do this.

  20. Jscott on November 5, 2011 at 15:08

    Jaynes crossed my path in a thrift store in Arkansas. The Hardy Boys sat on top of him.

    It took reading the book a few times to open up the third eye, but it happened all the same. He provided me one of several keys that I needed to unlock my prison.

    Interesting that our paths have these intersections. I would call it synchronicity, but Jung and I have issues.

  21. Texas Arcane on November 6, 2011 at 05:09

    Based on the most recent evidence, the author of this blog and everyone who posted here has to seriously consider the possibility that you are yearning for something you may have never had when you yearn for the recovery of your animal instincts.

    In your lives, how often have you met a human being with the acute sensitivities that are universal to all animals? I have them. I know where I got them from. I have rarely ever encountered anyone else like me.

    Humans are always founding the ideologies on assumptions that are often without evidence. One of them is the notion that it was society and civilization that caused the instincts of Homo Sapiens to mysteriously vanish or that they are “suppressed” by these influences. What if that isn’t correct at all? What if Homo Sapiens is a creature created out of whole cloth who lacked such instincts from the very beginning.

    It does not mean you have animal instincts if you kill, have sex or scream when you are angry. It is possible to have all the behaviours we see in humans without them possessing any innate animal instincts.

    What if part of your design was that you should have all your animal instincts snipped out of your DNA to begin with, in order to make you more amenable to complete control by a central authority? They wouldn’t cut out your aggression, sexual drive or mindless primal behaviours. Those might be the drives they would want to be the purest expression of your purpose. To kill for them, to reproduce yourselves and avoid thinking and be largely a creature of easily manipulated emotions, like patriotism or animosity.

    Your problem is you think that the animal hominid was simply an animal. You are incorrect. The true human was a collective part of an evolutionary and adaptive process based on factors much more complex than simply kill or be killed … or rut with as many females as possible … or simply contend in a hierarchy for power.

    I have always felt, since I was a very little boy, that I reflect a consistency that is not present in ordinary people – that I was natural, organic and the real human being who was part of a continuum that went back far into the ancient past.

    DNA says I am right. Our Neanderthal genes have an audit trail – they go all the way back to Oreopithecus, a waterborne ape over a half million years ago. Homo Sapiens is a bit of a puzzling enigma – he appears to have popped out of a warp gate 80,000 years ago and his genetic code looks like somebody took a dozen different primates and threw them into a blender, only after removing all the good genes that make us social creatures within a larger framework for survival.

    Is part of the frustration of being human yearning for a golden garden of natural existence that Homo Sapiens has never had? We could say he is missing a parentage and longing nostalgically for kinship he has been denied in that he apparently has been drawn up out of thin air.

  22. Sara on November 6, 2011 at 07:01

    I read Jaynes’s book about 10 years ago while an undergrad. I was doing psychobiology research at the time, and tried to tell my advisor about it. As I was telling him the thesis, I realized it sounded absolutely crazy, but somehow Jaynes manages to support his arguments really well. It’s such a thought provoking book. Then this past year I mentioned the book to some of my fellow grad students (in computational neuroscience), and the book ended up getting passed around much of the department. I’m beginning to think I need to reread it. I’m glad to see it getting more attention.

  23. Paul Verizzo on November 6, 2011 at 15:45

    Add me to the list of Jayne’s readers. When I was clearing out many linear feet of books in 2007, he was a keeper.

    I still struggle with his concepts. It’s that kind of read. You never forget it.

  24. […] In case you missed it the last time, here, The Story of Your Enslavement. Just understand: you can only be enslaved in this manner by your own volition, and that always begins by deferring to an external authority. Problems begin when that authority has no quality basis in reality from which to assert any authority whatsoever. For some additional thoughts and ideas on how we became so susceptible to the diktats of false authorities, see this post from nearly a year ago: Of The Beast and The Bi-Cameral Mind. […]

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