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Michael,

I, for one, have been really interested in these posts on the bicameral mind stuff. Ever since I first picked up Colin Wilson's "The Occult" back in '07ish I've found this idea rather interesting. Thanks for discussing it so thoroughly here - yours is far more engrossing than Wilson's treatment of it!

I've been fascinated by this 'breakdown of the bicameral mind' train of thought over the past few posts, because after thinking I had heard just about everything about spirituality and the paranormal, this is new to me.
And it's convincing.

What I can't figure out is, if those Spiritual Guides of long ago had any concern for the people they were guiding, why did they encourage them to slaughter each other so brutally? Sure, left brain dominance can be just as cruel, but where is this call for love that we see in modern day spirituality? Are these spirits evolving too? Are we dealing with higher spirits in this day and age?

I can see where sanity takes a balance between left brain and right brain thinking, but why does the guidance of these spirits seem so dissonant over time?

If any part of this speculation is true, then what may be needed now is a new synthesis - a more equilateral distribution of power between the left and right cerebral hemispheres ...
Has anyone here had experience with the Monroe Institute's HemiSync audio products? The Institute's theory is that the left and right hemispheres of the brain are out of sync and can be nudged into cooperating better by playing slightly out of phase "beats" into the left vs. right ears.

I just acquired its "Manifesting" pair of CDs and played the second one a couple of times. I'm impressed so far.

"What I can't figure out is, if those Spiritual Guides of long ago had any concern for the people they were guiding, why did they encourage them to slaughter each other..........."

Very interesting point; RD.

The spirit guides would have been extremely violent and ruthless personalities and not at all like those we hear so much about today.

"why did they encourage them to slaughter each other so brutally?"

That's a good question. I'm not sure I have an answer, except to say that the really awful brutality started with the Assyrians, in a period that Jaynes identifies as post-bicameral. In fact, he believes that the horrendous brutality of the Assyrians, who impaled their victims on stakes, was an attempt to assert control of a population that had been left without their former "divine" guidance.

If you look at earlier societies, in what Jaynes would call the bicameral era, you don't find evidence of police forces or crime. However, there were battles between competing city-states. Jaynes ascribes such conflicts to the differing instructions given by hallucinated voices heard by people from different cities. From a spiritualist point of view, I suppose one could argue that lower-level entities were stirring up trouble, or that authentic communications were corrupted by subconscious influences, or even that some degree of conflict and strife was necessary for further cultural development. However, I concede that none of these answers is very satisfactory.

Ok Michael but do you concede that these people's still had some degree of subjective reflection, just far less than today?

I mean its hard to agree with Jaynes that they had NO reflective ability. Referring to the Middle Kingdom 1800bce workers letters for example, we have cases of dissatisfied workers who are clearly peeved at their pay and conditions and are submitting formal petitions and complaints to the authorities to do something about it.

You have to have some self reflective ability to say 'well I'm pi**ed off with my conditions and I'm going to complain and do something about this state of affairs, why am I p****ed? Because I don't have enough to feed my family or keep them in the style their accustomed too'.

This is the kind of things we read about. That's not automatons at work, sorry but you ain't convincing me.

"You have to have some self reflective ability to say 'well I'm pi**ed off with my conditions and I'm going to complain and do something about this state of affairs, why am I p****ed? Because I don't have enough to feed my family or keep them in the style their accustomed too'."

Honestly, I haven't read those letters, and I don't know what sort of interpretations are being made in translation. If they actually said the kind of things you're saying, it would certainly indicate a subjective sense of self. OTOH, if they said something like, "The workers of Pharaoh's silver mines ask for larger food rations," then I'm not sure it's evidence of reflective consciousness. I'd need to know more about it.

"In today's world we see both the benefits and hazards of our left-brain-dominant mentality . . . what may be needed now is a new synthesis . . .That’s one reason why it continues to fascinate me, whatever its flaws."

I agree--this topic is intriguing for that very reason.

I'm reminded of another topic we've discussed in the past. It has to do with my belief that the notion of progress--in a general sense--is a myth.

As I see it, with every supposed gain that mankind makes, there is an equally important loss. More technology means less nature (and an increase in pollutants). More intellectual activity means less focus on the emotional and spiritual life.

And so on.

So I'm always pleased when I see someone thinking along the same lines, as you do in this post.

As I've said before, I view the history and development of mankind in much the same way I see the evolution of art or music. They don't get better over the millennia, they just change.

No Michael you need to give modern Egyptologists some credit, modern translations ARE pretty close to the meaning, whereas 19th century ones were certainly not. The trend in ancient translations has been for maximum accuracy for decades now, you appear to be stuck in some kind of 19th century timewarp!

Yes, there are some allowances for translation but no way as much as you are suggesting, not with modern translations.

This fact doesn't suit your agenda however, so no doubt you will continue to use the lost in translation error to back up Jaynes's theory ever further.

It's getting to the stage now where it's close on becoming unfalsifiable.

Michael, did I submit this earlier? With the delay, sometimes I forget if I've sent stuff on its way or not.

"In today's world we see both the benefits and hazards of our left-brain-dominant mentality . . . what may be needed now is a new synthesis . . .That’s one reason why it continues to fascinate me, whatever its flaws."

I agree--this topic is intriguing for that very reason.

I'm reminded of another topic we've discussed in the past. It has to do with my belief that the notion of progress--in a general sense--is a myth.

As I see it, with every supposed gain that mankind makes, there is an equally important loss. More technology means less nature (and an increase in pollutants). More intellectual activity means less focus on the emotional and spiritual life.

And so on.

So I'm always pleased when I see someone thinking along the same lines, as you do in this post.

As I've said before, I view the history and development of mankind in much the same way I see the evolution of art or music. They don't get better over the millennia, just different.

I think Douglas may be referring to the ongoing labor dispute that occurred in ~1155 BC during the reign of Ramses III. The strike took place in what is now called Deir el-Medina, and it involved workers and artisans who were employed in the construction of New Kingdom tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Here's a short summary of the strike:
http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/egyptian-laborers-strike-pay-1170-bce

And here's a translation of the source document, the Turin Strike Papyrus:

http://libcom.org/history/records-of-the-strike-in-egypt-under-ramses-iii#footnoteref13_ljlxns7

I think the sentiments expressed (on both sides of the dispute) in this document provide ample evidence for self-reflection in 12th century BC Egypt. Allowing for cultural differences (e.g. food rations instead of money), the strike report could have been written yesterday.

"I think Douglas may be referring to the ongoing labor dispute that occurred in ~1155 BC during the reign of Ramses III."

If so, that's later than the bicameral period in Egypt. 1200 BC would be a period seen by Jaynes as featuring reflective consciousness or at least the beginnings of it.

Thanks for the links; I'll take a look.

I guess I posted Bruce's comment twice, but that's my fault, not his.

Having read the linked pages, I agree that the 1170 BC strike clearly shows reflective consciousness, especially this excerpt from an official report:

'The crew passed the guard posts; they sat down in the Tomb. The three captains went out to fetch them. And the workman Mose, son of Anakhte, said: "As Amun endures and as the ruler, whose wrath is greater than death, endures, if I am taken from here today I shall go to sleep only after having made preparations for robbing a tomb. If I do not (i.e. keep the oath), it is because of this swearing of mine by the name of Pharaoh there that one shall punish me."'

To defy authority (by striking and by tomb-robbing) is itself a sign of reflective consciousness, and to plan future actions on the basis of a hypothetical ("if I am taken ... I shall ...") is also a sign of reflective consciousness, or as Jaynes would say, narratization of the analog 'I' in a mental space.

However, the date is late enough to be consistent with Jaynes' theory.

Interestingly, the first linked page says calls this "the first labor strike in recorded history," which suggests that either there were no earlier strikes, or none were recorded. If the former is true, it would perhaps bolster Jaynes' theory by indicating that people of earlier eras had a different, much more submissive mentality.

"It's getting to the stage now where it's close on becoming unfalsifiable."

There is a weak version of Jaynes' theory which, as he admitted, was unfalsifiable - namely, that the transition to modern consciousness occurred in the the prehistoric era. He resisted this idea because he wanted his theory to be falsifiable in principle (though naturally he hoped it would prove true). It can be falsified if unambiguous evidence from an early enough period shows signs of a reflective, narratizing consciousness.

Jaynes (quoted in "The Julian Jaynes Collection," p. 32), said: "I have purposely tried to make my hypothesis falsifiable. I keep climbing out on limbs. For instance, by dating the origin of consciousness at 1000 BC, I leave myself open to evidence from archaeology. If we found a cuneiform tablet from 3500 BC that said something like 'I, King of Lugush, now in the prime of my life, was in my childhood happy, and will until I die devote myself to expanding my kingdom,' my theories would be seriously in question because this would show early evidence of planning and narrating which are functions of [reflective] consciousness."

Although the above quote gives a date of 1000 BC as a rough estimate of the origin of reflective consciousness, Jaynes makes it clear in his other writings that he thinks the actual date was earlier – around 1200 BC. I would guess it was earlier even than that, but still sometime in the second millennium BC. Incidentally, in the same book we're told that Jaynes sometimes wondered aloud if he had set the date for the transition to modern consciousness too late.

Obviously any such date can be only an approximation for a gradual, evolutionary event that took place in different locales at different times. But if sufficiently early evidence showed clear signs of modern consciousness, Jaynes' theory would be disproved. (By sufficiently early, I mean pre-2nd millennium.) As far as I know, however, such evidence hasn't been found - at least not yet.

"I guess I posted Bruce's comment twice, but that's my fault, not his."

Nobody can possibly fault you for posting such an extraordinary comment twice. Only for failing to post it a third time.

If we found a cuneiform tablet from 3500 BC that said something like 'I, King of Lugush, now in the prime of my life, was in my childhood happy, and will until I die devote myself to expanding my kingdom,' my theories would be seriously in question because this would show early evidence of planning and narrating which are functions of [reflective] consciousness."

..............................

But if sufficiently early evidence showed clear signs of modern consciousness, Jaynes' theory would be disproved. (By sufficiently early, I mean pre-2nd millennium.) As far as I know, however, such evidence hasn't been found - at least not yet.

Aside from the even earlier Maxims of Ptahotep (dating probably to the 6th Dynasty) about which I have already posted, the private tomb inscriptions dating from the First Intermediate Period around 2100-2000 BC amply demonstrate the reflective self consciousness of an active "I" at least in late 3rd millenium Egypt. And this must have been based on oral traditions going back centuries before. Note the frequent use of phrases to the effect of "I did this" and "I did that" citing personal good deeds justifying passage to the afterlife.

In these texts Count Indi of This prides himself on having been a good fighter, and Ankhtifi, Nomarch of Hieraconopolis and Edfu speaks in detail about his military exploits and portrays himself vividly as a proudly independent nomarch. A person of much lower status, butler and head butcher (overseer of slaughterers) Merer, describes his effective administrative work in the nome of Edfu. The treasurer Iti of Imyotru prides himself on having supplied his town with food during times of famine. Similarly the steward Seneni of Coptus wants to be remembered as the person who distributed the grain for his town during years of famine. The treasurer Tjetji, servant of Kings Intef II and III, describes his devoted services to the monarchs.

A sample of the text of Merer's stela:

"I was the priest for slaughtering and offering in two temples on behalf of the ruler. I offered for thirteen rulers without a mishap ever befalling me. I was not robbed, I was not spat in the eyes, owing to the worth of my speech, the competence of my counsel, and the bending of my arm. .....I buried the dead and nourished the living, wherever I went in this drought which had occurred. I closed off all their fields and mounds in town and countryside, not letting their water inundate for someone else, as does a worthy citizen so that his family may swim. When it happened that Upper Egyptian barley was given to the town, I transported it many times. I gave a heap of white Upper Egyptian barley and measured out for every man according to his wish."

From the stela of the treasurer Tjetji:

"I was one loved by his lord (Intef), praised by him every day. I spent a long period of years under the majesty of my lord King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Son of Re, Intef, while this land was under his command from Yebu to This in the Thinite nome, I being his personal servant, his chamberlain in very truth."
...............
"He made me great, he advanced my rank, he put me in the place of his trust, in his private palace. The treasure was in my hand under my seal, being the best of every good thing brought to the majesty of my lord from Upper Egypt, from Lower Egypt, of everything that gladdens the heart, as tribute from this entire land, owing to the fear of him throughout the land; and what was brought to the majest of my lord by the chiefs who rule the Red Land, owing to the fear of him throughout the hill-countries."

(From Lichtheim, at http://home.uchicago.edu/~/rozenn/various3.PDF )

Concerning narratives, the Story of Sinuhe and the Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor both date from close to the reign of Middle Kingdom Pharaoh Senusret I around 1900 BC.
The Story of Sinuhe is considered a masterpiece of Egyptian literature and is an autobiographic narrative, probably a work of fiction based on fact. This is the tale of an Egyptian palace official named Sinuhe. When war was waged against the Libyans, he accompanied the royal army, which was commanded by Senusret, the son and chosen heir of the pharaoh Amenemhat I, first pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty.
The old king died suddenly, possibly killed by conspirators in the harem. When news of this reached Senusret, who quickly returned to claim his throne, Sinuhe fears a conflict over succession and flees to build a new life in exile under a local prince in Canaan (Syria) who befriends him. At the height of his new life he is challenged to a duel by a Syrian champion: Sinuhe kills his opponent in the duel, and begins a period of peace. At the approach of old age, he feels driven to return home to end his days, and be buried, as an Egyptian. The reigning king of Egypt invites him back, and he returns to the palace he had left years earlier.
(From http://carrington-arts.com/JJSinuhe/ )

This story demonstrates a distinctively modern psychology - nothing bicameral here, and it dates from about 1900 BC.

Excellent, Michael!

Those are very interesting quotes, Doubter. I'll have to look into it further and read the Story of Sinuhe.

I'm not sure that the tomb inscriptions are as fatal to Jaynes' theory as you may think. There is possibly some confusion over what Jaynes was saying in his hypothetical example of a statement by the king of Lugush. It's not merely that the king would be listing his various deeds and accomplishments; as Jaynes well knew, this kind of thing is common in inscriptions throughout the ancient world, such as Hammurabi's prologue and epilogue to his law code. Nor is it the idea that the king would be using the word "I" in an active sense.

What would make the king's statement so damaging to Jaynes' theory is that it implies the king was making a story out of his life - not just listing things he had done, or even listing them in chronological order, but creating a narrative that tries to tie everything together from childhood to midlife to old age. In effect he would be creating a persona for himself, just as we do today, when we select various items from our memory and weave them together into our "life story."

The key thing in Jaynes' statement is that the imaginary king is saying he is now in the prime of his life, and from that vantage point he is looking back at his childhood and looking ahead to his future years. He is conceptualizing his life in "spatial" terms, seeing it laid out before him in a timeline that extends from past to future. Moreover, he is apparently conscious of how this sequence of events has shaped and molded his character and ambitions.

I don't really see that in the tomb inscriptions I've read so far, though I haven't read all of them. The inscriptions seem to be in line with the boastful preface to the Code of Hammurabi:

"Hammurabi, the prince, called of Bel am I, making riches and increase, enriching Nippur and Dur-ilu beyond compare, sublime patron of E-kur; who reestablished Eridu and purified the worship of E-apsu; who conquered the four quarters of the world, made great the name of Babylon, rejoiced the heart of Marduk, his lord who daily pays his devotions in Saggil; the royal scion whom Sin made; who enriched Ur; the humble, the reverent, who brings wealth to Gish-shir-gal ..." Etc., etc. He goes on for quite some time.

http://www.general-intelligence.com/library/hr.pdf

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