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Copyright © 1997, Jay Ligda.  All rights reserved.  Published by Humans in the Universe and Jay Ligda.

Julian Jaynes

      Julian Jaynes is a theorist and author of the book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. In his book, Jaynes (1976) shows that in early writing, such as The lliad and The Old Testament, there is no evidence of the word "I" or consciousness/self-awareness.  Evidence of self-awareness does occur in later writing such as the Odyssey and The New Testament.  Jaynes (1976) concludes that early humanity was not conscious (self-aware).  He argues that consciousness (self-awareness) occurred during the second millennium B.C.  when great disasters took place that forced people out of their habitual ways of existence.  By becoming conscious (self-aware), an individual could internalize one's self and play out scenarios within their imaginations, thus learning ways to increase their survival.  When social order broke down due to environmental crisis or an invasion, consciousness (self-awareness) became necessary for survival (Jaynes, 1976).

      According to Jaynes's theory (1976), earlier humans lived primarily as automations according to rules that were passed down through a hierarchy by those closer to the "gods."

      Jaynes's theory is highly controversial as it challenges much of history.  One of Jaynes's critics claims that he "is a dilettante who ranges over many fields in which he lacks expertise, picking and choosing facts that can be woven into his wooly hypothesis" (Keen, 1977. p. 67).

by Jay Ligda

(This work is a all or part of an original work first published/written for John. F. Kennedy University:  Final Integrative Project., Mar1996.)


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References

  • Jaynes, J. (1976).  The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.  Boston, MA:  Houghton Mifflin.
  • Keen, S. (1977, November).  "Julian Jaynes:  Portrait of the Psychologist as a Maverick Theorizer."  Psychology Today11.  66-77.
  • Pearson, D. & Shaw, S. (1982).  Life Extension:  A Practical Scientific Approach.  New York, NY:  Warner.

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