At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes' still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only 3,000 years ago and is still developing. The implications of this revolutionary scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion - and indeed our future.
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An Archaelogical Expedition of Our Minds
I first read this book a couple of decades ago and was totally enthralled with Julian Jaynes' thesis. Since then, I've been an avid student in the Study of Consciousness and watched with great interest as it evolved using the newest imaging tools and techniques to study the brain.
Yet it's apparent that Neuroscience is still in its infancy in regard to what causes conscious self-awareness to manifest in our 3 pound mass of neurons we call the brain. First and foremost, this book is no mere academic treatise. Instead, it is an incredibly literate and poetic narrative that deftly weaves evolutionary psychology, archaeology, history, philosophy and religion into an argument that is both radical and shocking in its implications. Even in the nearly forty years since it was first published, the arguments Jaynes submits in this well-researched book are controversial and rejected by many.
Nevertheless, Jaynes' ideas also have a lot of supporters in the field and the arguments on both sides continue.
While current Neuroscientists, however, are doing fascinating and provocative work in their attempts to learn about who we are and why we do the things we do, the important work that Jaynes pioneered can't be ignored or understated. Our homonid line has been in existence for six to seven million years, while our species Homo Sapiens has been on this planet for around 200,000 years. Yet--as Jaynes argues--modern conscious thought has only been part of our species for about 2500 years; a tiny fraction of the time our species has been in existence. This book elaborately and eloquently tries to explain why.
No book on the important subject of Consciousness has for me been so intriguing, so captivating, and so enjoyable to read as this one. The tragedy is that Julian Jaynes, who died in 1997, had so much more to say on the subject of his life's work. Fortunately, others have come forward to preserve his writings and ideas, and to hopefully inspire others to continue his important work. I suggest anyone who reads this and is interested in what has come of Jaynes ideas since his death Google the Julian Jaynes Society.
Hearing "new" ideas about the origin of consciousness, and how the past can help explain current psychological problems.
The voice of a god. I must go and make a shrine to him.
You've never been conscious of your consciousness like this before.