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The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

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The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind is a 1976 book by the Princeton psychologist, psychohistorian and consciousness theorist Julian Jaynes (1920-1997). The book addresses the problematic nature of consciousness – “the ability to introspect” – which in Jaynes’ view must be distinguished from sensory awareness and other processes of cognition. Jaynes presents his proposed solution: that consciousness is a “learned behavior” based more on language and culture than on biology; this solution, in turn, points to the origin of consciousness in ancient human history rather than in metaphysical or evolutionary processes; furthermore, archaeological and historical evidence indicates that prior to the “learning” of consciousness, human mentality was what Jaynes called "the bicameral mind" – a mentality based on verbal hallucination. The first edition was released in January 1977 in English. Two later editions, in 1982 and in 1990, were released by Jaynes with additions but without alterations. It was Jaynes's only book, and it is still in print, in several languages. In addition to numerous reviews and commentaries, there are several summaries of the book's material, for example, in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, in lectures and discussions published in Canadian Psychology, and in Art/World.
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original title: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
language: English
date of publication: 1976
genre: essay

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