Julian Jaynes, author of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, is well known for his controversial theory that consciousness in humans began only 3,000 years ago.
At Nautlius, Veronique Greenwood analyzes Jaynes’ thesis and its continued impact in philosophy and neuroscience circles:
… Read the rest
In the beginning of the book, Jaynes asks, “This consciousness that is myself of selves, that is everything, and yet nothing at all—what is it? And where did it come from? And why?” Jaynes answers by unfurling a version of history in which humans were not fully conscious until about 3,000 years ago, instead relying on a two-part, or bicameral, mind, with one half speaking to the other in the voice of the gods with guidance whenever a difficult situation presented itself. The bicameral mind eventually collapsed as human societies became more complex, and our forebears awoke with modern self-awareness, complete with an internal narrative, which Jaynes believes has its roots in language.