Re: Julian Jaynes

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Thu Sep 01 2005 - 12:16:22 MDT

[Uh oh, you mentioned the C-word :-) ]

My take on Julian Jaynes is that he, like many other people, was deeply
confused about whether he meant 'Consciousness' [The Hard Problem] or
'Consciousness' [Whether I am able think about my own thoughts], or ...
etc. etc .... all the way down the line to 'Consciousness' [Gates in
the brain stem are either on or off, determining whether or not I am in
a coma].

Then, on top of this confusion, he speculates about how consciousness
may have arisen suddenly and had some causal effects on the human
thinking mechanism ... and he is equally unclear about what the latter
is and how the causal effect could have acted between the two.

This is roughly equivalent to a lay person trying to talk about a
'computer' without distinguishing between the design of a program, a
particular copy of the code of a program, the operating system or the
electronics. And then writing a whole book about it.


Having said that, I have been jealous of that glorious title for years.
  Doesn't it just roll off the tongue in a way that makes it seem like
it must be a _great_ book?! Damn his eyes.


Phil Goetz wrote:
> --- Olie Lamb <> wrote:
>>* Consciousness as a characteristic has not only recently been
>>acquired by humanity. Consciousness extends to a number of
>>organisms, not all of whom regularly utilise language.
> That reminds me. Could anybody comment on "The Origin of
> Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by
> Julian Jaynes? Its basic proposition is that humans became
> conscious only in the last 2 or 3 thousand years,
> and religion was started by people hearing
> "voices in their head" as they gained
> consciousness, or before these different voices were
> integrated into one conscious mind, or something like that.
> Sounds utterly nutty. But the book has been famous
> for decades, and I read a couple of chapters,
> and there were a lot of interesting and insightful
> observations, none of which I can recall at this moment.
> I don't believe I will become convinced of its main
> thesis, but perhaps there's enough interesting ideas
> in the book to read it. Has anyone here read it?
> - Phil
> PS - My use of "here" to refer to an association that
> has no spatial component is an example of why it isn't
> meaningful to speak of a "Bayesian approach to AI".
> The hard problems of AI, like resolving that "here",
> have nothing to do with Bayesian inference. Carrying
> out Bayesian decision-making is trivial, compared to
> the far less trivial process of producing the
> set of possibilities and their probabilities.
> But that's a subject for a different post.
> ____________________________________________________
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