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Good post, Michael. I had already toyed with this alternative. But how can we know which is true? Are those inner voices are produced by the brain's right hemisphere or are received by the brain's right hemisphere? I think that intersubjective cases, for example, apparitions perceived of the perceived by several witnesses at once, mediumship with verifiable data, etc., we may know whether those voices are hallucinations or whether they exist independently of us.

Love this speculation. :] Allow me to add some of my own!

I sometimes like to imagine a "Magic Goes Away" kind of situation, where due to some kind of process (I tend to imagine it to be physical in nature) ambient levels of magic/psi/whatnot decreased in the world sometime during the ancient era. (I have a fantasy story about it forthcoming in Apex. :] )

Cliff Pickover has an interesting idea that increased amounts of artificial lighting resulted in decreased endogenous DMT production (DMT is a psychedelic), which resulted in the magic going away, so to say. Or one could speculate about something astronomical, akin to LST-correlated fluctuations in psi performance on a smaller timescale. (If there are fluctuations on a smaller timescale, why not larger timescales as well?)

"But it's equally possible that a society populated by human beings with an attenuated sense of self, who largely relied on psychic impressions to carry out their daily tasks, would be unusually vulnerable to sudden, disorienting change."

This also reminds me of Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash.

This is great stuff, Michael. Nice post!

I think you are more right than Jaynes and probably just plain right.

How it happened is probably not too complex nor difficult to understand.

First, we already know that tribal people, even today, are far more inclined toward spirit communication, psi and all of that. So it should be reasonable to assume that our ancient ancestors resembled these people in this way as well, since anthropology and archeology tells us that our ancestors resembles tribal in other important ways.

Second, we know that George and his friends and mentors are silenced by obsessive rational thinking.

Third we know - at least I believe and think there is sufficient evidence to confirm the belief - that what we perceive as "reality" is largely a matter of where we focus our attention and how persistent that focus remains.

So. What probably happened was that a long time ago people were simply less focused on the man made material structures of society as well as the man made organization of society - mostly because the these aspects of society were simply less developed and therefore less prominent in a person's life and, in part, because survival itself was more dependent on personal intuition than on reliance on societal infrastructure.

As societies developed into increasingly well organized and all encompassing systems the focus shifted from intuition to following rules and other prescribed patterns of behavior. The division of labor further narrowed the focus of individuals. Survival became dependent only on performing one's accepted role. People came to identify with the role and its place in the social structure as opposed to identifying with transcendent forces.

In short, the social order and dogma designed to advance the survival of it replaced direct numinous contact by individuals.

This is not without benefits. Organized materially focused societies are able to build upon accumulated knowledge and create much in the way of material bounty and comfort. The downside, however, is that the bureaucracy becomes a defensive tyrannical beast. Nabiim must be killed (figuratively these days - i.e. militant skeptics) and the personal ego can be become a microcosm of the societal bosses.

I check this blog every single day because of posts like this. Great job, Michael.


Check out "The Ever-Present Origin" by Jean Gebser, which explains the evolution of consciousness through "mental", "magical", "perspectival" and "aperspectival" evolutions.

It's a fascinating explanation of how our minds have developed.

Very interesting post. You can see the same kind of ideas in Peter Kingsley's account of Parmenides and the Greek oracles (something discussed on your blog 4 or 5 years ago, as I recall).

FYI, I'll be away from my computer tomorrow (Wednesday), so any new comments probably will not be posted until Thursday.

VinceReeves, the Gebser book looks very interesting. I'd never heard of it.

Jaynes makes a pretty strong case that the psychology of ancient peoples was distinctively different from our modern psychology, and that these people relied on statues, totems, figurines, and other such artifacts to stimulate the "hallucinated voices" that guided their actions.
....a society populated by human beings with an attenuated sense of self, who largely relied on psychic impressions to carry out their daily tasks ...

An attenuated sense of self? I think, and probably it is the opinion of most archaeologists, that the ancient people (in the historical period at least), like ourselves led a life centered mostly in the left brain, very much focused on self (and family). Concentrated on multitudinous mostly practical issues of survival, status, income, family matters, love, marriage, medical treatment, prayer, crime, tomb robbing, greed for gold, strikes because of not being paid, lawsuits, war, etc. etc.

This is indicated by a large body of ancient letters and notes. The record is especially good for New Kingdom Egypt (about 1500 BC-1000BC), but also some material from the Middle Kingdom and Old Kingdom. These were left, for instance, by the Valley of the Kings tomb workers at Dier el-Medina, in the form of personal letters and notes on papyri and ostraca. These record an everyday life which seems "normally" ego centered.

For example, the strike against the state: "In about the 25th year of the reign of Ramses III (c. 1170 BCE) the laborers were so exasperated by delays in supplies they threw down their tools and walked off the job in what may have been the first sit-down strike in recorded history. They wrote a letter to the Vizier complaining about lack of wheat rations. Village leaders attempted to reason with them but they refused to return to work until their grievances were addressed. They responded to the elders with "great oaths". "We are hungry", the crews claimed; "eighteen days have passed this month" and they still had not received their rations. They were forced to buy their own wheat. They told them to send to the Pharaoh or Vizier to address their concerns. After the authorities had heard their complaints they addressed them and the workers went back to work the next day. There were several strikes that followed. After one of them, when the strike leader asked the workers to follow him they told them they had had enough and returned to work." (at ).

My point is that Jaynes tends to get rather carried away, and that many of his more substantive points would attract the skepticism, at least, of scholars in these specialized fields.

someone who might be sceptical os assertions is Joseph Tainter!

Doubter, the periods Jaynes describes as "bicameral" are earlier than the ones you're citing. He focuses on Sumeria, Babylon, the Greek Dark Ages (the time of Homer), and the earliest eras of Judaism.

Tukulti of Assyria, seen kneeling by a god's empty throne above, reigned c. 1230 BC. This is approximately the time when bicamerality died out in the Middle East, according to Jaynes.

I've looked at some earlier writings, such as fragmentary Sumerian texts, and they don't suggest much of a subjective sense of self. Of course there are many problems with translating ancient cuneiform writings.

The problem with this hypothesis is that the evidence, such as theri is, is simply not strong enough to be taken seriously. It's hypothetical on a grand scale.

I reckon an archaeologist needs to get to work on this as I’m sure an expert in the field could demolish Jaynes easily.

The fact of the matter is that we can find lots of evidence of domestic life in ancient societies which is strongly indicative of a mindset wholly similar to ourselves, focused on domestic life and family.

I direct you to the archaeological remains of Scara Brae in Orkney, Scotland, inhabited between 3000 to 2000 BC:

Scara Brae predates the pyramids of Egypt, and is completely removed from that region geographically, yet Scara Brae gives us a strong picture of a domestic lifestyle and preoccupations which anyone alive today can recognise and identify with, the only difference being that the Neolithic peoples used whatever resources they had to hand and did the best they could.

Scara Brae demonstrates hearths, stone cupboards, advanced plumbing with flushing toilet (a water channel is redirected under the latrines), and many artifacts indicative of a human mindset which we can all identify with, with its concerns with domesticity and family life.

Of course, you can go on and say that this doesn’t preclude Jayne's theory, but I think its credibility is certainly stretched beyond credibility.

" It seems likely to me that in prehistoric times, and even at the beginning of recorded history, psi was a part of daily life in a way that we would find quite astonishing nowadays. "

Interesting, Michael!

One compelling piece of evidence in support of that theory is the fact that animals seem to have better psi functioning than contemporary humans. (As illustrated in Sheldrake's work and elsewhere.) And it seems logical to think that the psychological makeup of early humans would be closer to the animal mind than ours is.

You're saying, in effect, that the farther back in time we go, the more impressive the psi. So I'm saying, what happens if we stretch that timeline back even further?

If the brain is a limiter of consciousness rather than a producer, it might make sense to think that a less sophisticated brain is less capable of filtering out the sense of wholeness and connectedness that foster psi.

Still, it's impossible to ignore the whole body of evidence he presents. How do we explain all those weird, staring idols

This means nothing. What you are expressing is only an expression of unfamiliarity when faced with difference.

Many African tribes feature carvings of all manner of strange 'idols' and grotesque figures which are, to the western mind, deeply weird looking, and possibly weirder than anything from the ancient world, but i don't see any evidence of 'bicameral mind' in these cultures, although a more developed sense of psi? almost certainly.

Also, in line with my Scara Brae example, what about Australian Aboriginal culture, which is widely held to have developed independently from European civilisation for many thousands of years until contact with 18th century European settlers.

I don't see any evidence of 'bicameral mind' with them. however, a more developed sense of psi (Aboriginal 'dreamtime')? almost certainly.

Unless of course, you aregue, like Jaynes's arugment with the meso-americans, that they suddenly developed a sense of bicameral time as soon as the met Captain Cook and other 18th century Europeans.
My response to that: what a load of guff.

People in ancient times believed more than we do. During the first Century people had more belief in gods and goddesses and miracles and witches and ghosts and spirits and stuff like that. They lived in a world populated by "familiar spirits and ghosts and gods and goddesses and witches and Oracles and prophets" and all manner of supernatural occurrences. It just wasn't as unbelievable to them as it is to us.

Now there are people in our day and age, country people, and people who live in rural areas, who do believe in hexes and spells and spirits and ghosts and bad omens and stuff like that and they don't find what is written in the New Testament to be quite so unfamiliar.

All the stuff in the New Testament that we find so difficult to believe wasn't as unbelievable to the average person in the First Century as it is to us. Charles Darwin hadn't written the Origin of Species yet and they hadn't gone through the age of enlightenment yet.

"If the brain is a limiter of consciousness rather than a producer...|"

if it's just a limiter, cetaceans would be affected too. You kind of imply worms are conscious of the universe as a whole. Ahem.

Preserved ancient Egyptian written letters and other records go back to the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, circa 1900 BC. Among these documents are ones for the codification and mobilization of knowledge, such as practical examples for solving mathematical problems, and medical prescriptions. There are various accounts of work accomplished, goods purchased and used, goods donated to temples, etc. An example of this are the accounts of a royal dockyard workshop under 12th Dynasty king Senwosret I, with registers of equipment, instructions about collecting certain loads, and a register of tools delivered to the workshop listed by type, weight and number.

There are business letters, for instance requesting shipment of certain goods, reminding about debts and dealing with property, appeals to complete a commission, and even hate-mail.

There are family wills and transfer deeds, a son's challenge of a will as to what he inherits. There is a house census documenting the fluctuating size of a soldier's household.

There are letters home, dated 1949 BC (Pharaoh Montuhotep III), from a priest to his family about his family's affairs, squabbles and finances. He gives detailed instructions about the coming agricultural year, including paying the rent, which has just been negotiated, and about renting additional land. There are warnings about appropriating any of the grain for personal use, and complaints that some of the grain last shipped was old. This man then rebukes his family for being greedy (apparently they complained they were on spartan rations). The family squabble goes on. A sense of the man's personality is distinct, that he was an old man, impatient, fussy, and with a keen business sense.

These records clearly show a "normal" left-brained ego-centered psychology of self during the early period when private hieroglyphic and hieratic writing first became prevalent in Egypt. Before this most writing that has been preserved is funerary. The letters and records (and others) mentioned must be the continuation of spoken traditions, and it is reasonable to extend this psychological assumption back through the Old Kingdom (about 2700-2100 BC). The Old Kingdom was a period of great achievement in architectural technology, medicine and bureaucratic organization of the State, all requiring linear rational left-brain thinking. Perhaps Jayne's theory has some validity for certain pre-literate cultures, but it doesn't seem valid for Egypt.

It is interesting that in some areas ancient psychology really was different. Some ancient cultures had a very different view of time than we do today. Especially in Mesopotamia in the 3rd and 2nd millenia BC. From : If one compares Akkadian concepts designating "past" and "future" with their respective German or English counterparts, one immediately makes an astonishing discovery. The etymology of Akkadian concepts for "earlier" or for "earlier time," the "past", indicates that these concepts are derived from the Akkadian "front". The Sumerian corrolary to Akkadian concepts of the past is formed through the word which means "eye" and also "face," and thus "front" in the figurative sense. The same is true of Akkadian concepts designating the "future": the words meaning "later" or "afterwards" are derived from the word meaning "back, behind." The corresponding Sumerian concepts also mean "rear" and "backside." Without addressing in any more depth here a problem which is of great importance in understanding Mesopotamian culture -- its conceptual particularity -- it is clear that from the perspective of a Babylonian, the past lay before him or "faced him," while the future was conceived as lying behind him. In our own modern conceptual world, the opposite seems to be self-evident: we look into the future, while the past lies behind us. Continuing with this line of thought, we might say that while we proceed along a temporal axis "headed towards the future," the Mesopotamians, although they also moved on a temporal axis in the direction of the future, did so with their gaze directed towards the past. The Mesopotamians proceeded, so to speak, "with their backs forward," that is, facing backwards into the future. Without wanting to overburden this image, one could say that the aftention of Mesopotamian culture was directed towards the past and thus ultimately towards the origins of all existence.

Most likely, our old ancestors psi ability was just like ours, if we happen to live in similar environments, in small hunting and collecting communities (which we don't). We can of course speculate about big external psi-enhancing long-term field variations, but it will hardly lead us forward until we have clear indications of such and have some field strength quantities to relate to. Today, the Pre-Modern style cultures are nearly eradicated, but several have been subject to anthropological studies. I've only seen a few anthropologists anecdotes describing psi related experiences in them. Are there psi focused studies from such societies published? Psi can play a role in society, but beliefs much more. Also in our urbanized culture beliefs are ruling.

As Psi, as we know today, is a weak and very evasive thing, I doubt that any earthly society ruled by psi has ever existed. Not even the best in the game that I know of, I would rely on if I have to make an important decision. Nevertheless, spiritual messages has been of some importance in my decision making. Advices from certain EMOTIONALLY IMPORTANT sources are worth listen to, but should be judged carefully. DON'T let them rule you, is my advice.

Spiritual communications were/are ranked high in Pre-Modern cultures. But sometimes they could have catastrophic consequences. In ”Reunions: visionary encounters with departed loved ones” Moody describes a case where people in a cattle breeding village began to see spirits of dead relatives in a nearby lake. After a while, the villagers received the spiritual advice to slaughter their cattle (as I recall it, being promising increased wealth), which ultimately led to famine.

The previous example raises well-grounded questions about the credibility of spirits. But my following personal example tells the opposite. My mother had a dream where my late father stood outside their house, spraying water on the roof. Shortly afterwards, when I visited her, the fuse to the fridge went, a couple of times. I eventually started to look for an electric fault. Just beneath my bed I did find it: an old defective and burnt lamp cable that could ignite a fire anytime. The dream had been like an alarm message, though it didn't (I think) made me fix the problem.

Another family example: Some of us had a dispute whether to sell the house or not. I was hesitating. One night in a dream, me and my family were in an apartment when somebody pressed the bell at the back door. I went and opened. Outside stood my deceased father, dressed in his favourite outdoor clothes, with a suitcase in each hand, his and my mothers (I rarely dream about my father, though we were very close). The two empty suitcases were brought into the apartment. I asked my father where he had been. He answered: on vacation. I woke up. That dream helped me to take my decision.

Whether a dream is pure fantasy or partly spiritual is something impossible to tell - for certain. But dream states seem attractive for spiritual messaging. Whether we will be aware of or use such messages is another question.

If psi-ability was of importance for survival it would successively have been enhanced – up to a certain degree when the drawbacks would work the other way (imagine e.g. a warrior fighting both ghosts and humans, at the same time). It might have helped our ancestors find food and water, as well as make them aware of danger and passed tragedies. Gifted haunters eventually gained an advantage as the effort to kill a prey was so much bigger. In today's society, psi's importance for gene spreading is probably non-existent.

A family I've once met, lived in what earlier was the wilderness, by a long and 2 km wide lake. They became ferrymen for the few people occasionally crossing it. To receive attention from the other side of the lake it was custom to make a smoke signal. But the ferry family did go and check only if they had 'the feeling'. It wasn't uncommon that they saw the very first fine smoke dwindle to the sky.

Dowsing, the psi-related practice to find water, is still used at the countryside in some areas. Dowsing can be of central importance in future exploration of several aspects of psi (I will perhaps return to this subject in the future). I've tried a little dowsing myself, with completely negative result. However, I did find out how easy it is to manipulate oneself. The subconscious could well use cold reading to create promising results. According to my information, very few people have a genuine dowsing ability, even among those claiming that they have. Notably some rare talents can use their bare arms as instruments. Can elephants dowse with their trunks? They are among the few animals 'digging' for water and dowsing could be of importance for their survival in some arid areas.

Just watched "Swamp People" on the History Channel. Liz has a nineteen year old daughter and the night before she had dreamed they caught a giant bull alligator on the last line of their set of traps. So while they were driving down that Bayou all the lines were still up till they got to end and on the last line they had a 13 foot gator on the line! Liz's daughter's dream came true! She had a precognitive dream!

Wired interview with Sam Parnia:


A nice post from you regarding archaeological evidence from middle Egypt. I knew that any up to date archaeologist would be able to undermine Jaynes' theory easily.

Archaeologicial discoveries and research are shedding a light on ancient cultures at an astonishing rate of progress, and much evidence has come to light in recent years which simply highlights Jaynes' ideas as out of date with current archaeological data.

Perhaps Jaynes's ideas may have chimed with the archaeologicial evidence available at the time he wrote his work, but recent discoveries have overtaken this.

In fact, I very much doubt that Jaynes even availaed himself fully with the evidence which WAS available when he was writing. more likely he cherry-picked whatever fitted his ideas.

What's even more danming about the Egypt evidence is that it comes from the very part of the world focused on in Jaynes's theory. We know that Egypt was affected by the Bronze age collapse as much as the surounding cultures, but the eqyptian evidence we now have predates all this.

When you add to this archaeological evidence from cultures completeley removed from the middle-east, such as Scara Brae in Orkney, Scotland, which I mentioned earlier, which appears to indicate a quite familiar domestic life and community mindset, then I think it becomes apparant that Jaynes' theory doesnt hold much credibility today.

Maybe ancient peoples were multi-modal, and had rituals to encourage right-brained states, and we aren't/don't.

Doubter wrote, "The Old Kingdom was a period of great achievement in architectural technology, medicine and bureaucratic organization of the State, all requiring linear rational left-brain thinking."

This is where Jaynes would disagree with you. He doesn't believe that the accomplishments you've listed necessarily involve left brain thinking. He has a rather restrictive definition of the term "consciousness." Personally, I think it would have been clearer if he had simply used the term "self-awareness" or "introspection." In any case, he goes into some detail about the things we do in our lives without consciously thinking about them – such as driving or typing or playing a musical instrument. Or even reading and writing – inasmuch as we do not have to consciously puzzle out the meaning of every letter on the page.

So, from Jaynes's point of view, the question is not: Were ancient peoples were able to achieve architectural marvels or the beginnings of medicine or certain sciences? It is not even: Did ancient people have some recognizable personality traits that we think we can relate to? The question is whether or not they were self-aware in the modern sense.

If you look at very ancient poetry such as the epic of Gilgamesh or the Iliad or the earlier parts of the Bible, you don't necessarily find modern self-aware consciousness. You find people doing things at the behest of the gods, who are constantly intruding on their awareness and telling them how to react and how to behave. You do find personality conflicts, such as the conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon in the Iliad, and you find personal affection, such as Gilgamesh's love for his dead friend Enkidu.

What you don't find, Jaynes argues, is the kind of self-awareness that permits extended deception or introspection or outright conflicts between a person and his god. That kind of thing comes later, in works like the Odyssey (with Odysseus as the self-conscious man par excellence, capable of any amount of deceit, disguise, and prevarication).

He may have been wrong, though it does seem to me, from the reading I've done, that the psychology of ancient peoples was rather different from our psychology today. One also has to be wary of reading translations of material from other cultures, especially when the original writing was in the form of cuneiform or hieroglyphics, which are notoriously difficult to interpret and open to over-interpretation by modern translators.

A similar, though lesser, difficulty attends the translation of texts like the Iliad, where words such as "thumos" or "phrenes" can be rendered metaphorically as "courage" or "inspiration," when the original meaning may well have been very concrete; thumos may simply have meant the heart, and phrenes the lungs. The metaphorization (so to speak) of these body parts may have come later.

It's an interesting issue, and I'd like to explore it with further posts when I have the time.

Come on Michael. It's nonsense.

What you don't find, Jaynes argues, is the kind of self-awareness that permits extended deception or introspection or outright conflicts between a person and his god. That kind of thing comes later, in works like the Odyssey (with Odysseus as the self-conscious man par excellence, capable of any amount of deceit, disguise, and prevarication).

The ancient Egyptians were certainly capable of the self-awareness to conflict with their gods, and to ignore the prayers and curses inscribed within the tombs. Contempt for religion and greed were just as prevalent in ancient times as today, especially in times of civil disorder. This is demonstrated by their robbing the tombs of their own god-kings, starting early in the Old Kingdom. The pyramid tombs incorporated ever more elaborate and ingenious precautions trying to prevent thieves from rifling them, but they were always robbed of their treasures. The tomb technology of the Middle Kingdom pyramids was especially ingenious, stimulated by observation that all the tombs of the Old Kindom had already been violated and rifled. The only nearly intact royal burial remaining today was King Tutankhamen's from the New Kingdom. Even the royal queens had elaborate precautions against tomb robbery, which were mostly useless except for a few cases, in particular Queen Hetepheres, mother of Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid (about 2600 BC). Her tomb was a 90 foot vertical shaft dug through limestone, filled with rubble and stone blocks to deter thieves.

The capacity for deception and introspection is clearly indicated in the written record, such as the so-called "didactic" literature of the Old Kingdom. There is for instance the Instruction of Ptahotep, dating to the 6th Dynasty, about 2300 BC. This is a series of 37 moral maxims advising the wisdom of avoiding bad conduct. They focus on truthfulness, justice, generosity, kindness, moderation and self-control in contrast to their opposites such as lying, injustice, meanness and cruelty, gluttony and other excesses, etc. Maxim 6 in this text:
Do not scheme against people,
God punishes accordingly:
If a man says: "I shall live by it,"
He will lack bread for his mouth.
If a man says: "I shall be rich,"
He will have to say:"My cleverness has snared me."
If he says: "I will snare for myself,"
He will be unable to say: "I snared for my profit."
If a man says: "I will rob someone,"
He will end being given (as a slave) to a stranger.
People's schemes do not prevail,
God's command is what prevails;
Live then in the midst of peace,
What they give comes by itself.

"Another possibility is that the voice persisted because, in the early stages of his postmortem existence, the king was still able to communicate through mediums - and in that society, everyone was a medium."

Michael I think you’re really onto something here but might I suggest a possible twist?

When the Pope dies they go through this procedure where they smash his personal seals and other religious paraphernalia belonging to his reign.

When the British Monarch dies the cry goes up Shakespeare style "The King is dead! Long live the King!"

We also have the case of Akhenaten where once his reign was over all evidence he even existed was literally chiselled or rehieroglyphed over particularly his name nor I suggest’s this the unique event it's often made out there being evidence it may’ve been a common if more conservatively scaled custom throughout all Pharaonic Egyptian history.

The modern assumption's this sort of thing's priestly revenge at worst clearing away the old so the new has the field to itself at best.

Yet let's take the Samuel Saul era circa the 1st Millennium BC four centuries after Exodus.

In Samuel we have an individual who starts out this mystical shamanic civil servant figure the judge a role which by divine ordainment endows him with this Shekinatic/charismatic charged persona conferring automatic universal unquestioning acceptance of his pronouncements on any issue whatsoever be it legal military theological or how to get a date because it’s assumed it’s not him speaking but God.

Meanwhile I suggest some crisis which seems to be occurring all over the world's hinted at locally by the emergence of the musical ecstatics The Shouters who it's difficult to ignore bear a striking resemblance to the Dionysian maenad phenomenon or the antics of followers of various Indo-Tibetan avatars like Krishna or crazy wisdom holders like Padmasambhava [or the garrulous nutters on pre mobile period buses and trains] because suddenly Samuel's renouncing his Confucius the civic civilizer gig and a la Gautama Zoroaster and Lao Tse etc he’s wanting the hell permanently out city life and society generally even as he’s simultaneously scaling up to become a major version of the newly emerging worldwide much more cosmologically dimensioned critters known as the prophets nor’re people anywhere happy about any of it hence Samuel’s attempt to convince Israel his sons’re judges as good as he was but the people quickly cotton on not only hasn’t God conferred on the lads anything like the same level of charisma or infallible oracular capacity but unlike the priesthood judgehood clearly isn’t and can never be hereditary viz the sons of Eli.

It’s at this stage we realise we aren’t just witnessing a Bruce Banner gamma ray sized transformation of the SPIRITUAL landscape but a similarly monumental transformation of the whole urban political scene hence Samuel publicly bollocks Israel for the idiocy of wanting the complete absence of upto spec judges filled with one of these newfangled latest fashion crazes kings just because just about everyone everywhere’s got one.

He points out not only’re kings not just for Christmas but where prophets and judges have their unique direct hotline to and from God to keep ‘em incorruptible the institution of kings place the onus permanently’ll on the people themselves to keep the bastards’ arses in line and if they don’t they’ll only have themselves to blame for the consequences which is exactly the mitigating circumstance Saul pleads when he realises just how seriously pissed off God and Samuel are with him.

Yet what most people don’t suspect when Saul and Samuel make their statements’s the possibility they’re talking about something very much along the lines of your society of mediums who dead kings could still communicate with.

…only with two possible twists 1) this communication business didn’t just apply to dead kings but possibly even more so to living ones and 2) it wasn’t just the living and dead kings who were invested with the capacity to subtly telepathically and psychokinetically influence the people with their movie star like glamour but the people themselves who under certain conditions became capable of telepathically and psychokinetically compelling their kings to do whatever the hell they wanted hence again Saul’s lament all the debauchery murderousness material greed and endless infidelities with foreign gods he exhibited was purely a reflection of his own inability to resist the spell the people’d placed on him by way of giving themselves permission to join in all the forbidden foreigner fun hence Samuel’s explicit loathing for Saul for not having it in himself to develop an equally powerful desire to stand up to his peoples’ materialistic obsessions by cleaving to God [and hence I suggest King Agag’s cheeky uppitiness before Samuel because he can’t conceive for one moment Samuel might be immune to the more tolerant approach Saul and the people’ve already decided on to deal with him].

And to get an idea what those special king controlling conditions might’ve been we only need review the Tower of Babel story which among several possible layers of ideas and levels of meaning encoded in it explicitly states the purpose of the tower was to create a sort of vertically rising magic circle to prevent the human race from dispersing across the planet and indeed God explicitly confirms this cramming together on the same spot’s precisely how they’re deriving their power when He states the only way to put an end to the humans’ capacity to act with such monumentally monolithic potency’s to scatter the buggers cross the face of the Earth confusing in the process the common tongue which’s been facilitating them acting with one mind and bringing ‘bout the sort of pronounced cultural differences which’ll ensure monolithic recombination’s almost impossible.

It’s the same idea I suggest also contained in the story which goes a Sufi student suddenly dug his teacher in the ribs and gasped “Oh my god Master there goes the notorious black magician known as the Beast are we scared?” “Of him? Dear me no the black magicians who should scare us’re the ones so powerful they don’t need to advertise…and they move unsuspected all round us.”

Most people grasp the level of this story which implies there might be those amongst us so powerful they’re able to bring to bear an almost god like influence upon us without us suspecting a thing but they usually miss the much deeper implication this god like influence might actually be being achieved by deceiving and covertly steering the REAL all powerful magicians who move unsuspected all about us the human race itself a race of magicians whose abilities usually only docilely manifest in their unconscious moment by moment collective efforts to bring into existence and maintain the world in forms convivial to human beingness until every so often they become sufficiently provoked or antagonised to trigger off their collective aggression or resentment and suddenly English French American Russian or Chinese Revolutions start spontaneously erupting all over the place not to mention Arab Springs while Berlin Walls start quite literally coming down round the ears of the likes of the CIA or the KGB without them having so much as the slightest clue any of it’s about to happen.

So according to this particular interpretation of the Babel story the reason humanity condemns countless generations of itself to building what’s effectively a sky high tower block prison’s because certain parties among them who might be thought of as anti-judges or anti-prophets’ve beguiled them into forgetting about expanding back out into and exploring the rest of the planet by entrancing their collective ego with the concept of making a name for itself in which case the human race wasn’t being punished or diminished when a stop was put to Babel but rather being rescued from a fate which would’ve seen them becoming a cross between Star Trek’s the Borg and attaining Mao’s vision of a world so perfectly unified everyone speaks dresses eats thinks lives and believes exactly the same thing the exception being of course the hypothetical anti-judges and the anti-prophets.

It’s the surreptitious manipulatory antics of precisely these individuals I suggest Aristotle’s alluding to when he speaks of cities containing those who’re men those who’re more than men and those who’re less than men ie human demons.

It’s also these guys I suggest the Bible’s alluding to when it speaks of certain non-gift bearing scoundrels who Saul behaves powerless before in spite of the fact they’re shamelessly rubbishing him to his face when he’s just become king.

And it’s these guys I suggest who’re ultimately the reason for Samuel’s monumental spiritual career change as well as the growing murderousness towards seers and ultimately prophets alluded to by Zechariah because Samuel strongly suspected as powerful psychics and mediums themselves they’d not only brought about a Babel style pooling of their perverted mystical talents to effectively seize surreptitious control of the psychic internet making judges redundant by interfering Devil’s Verses style with any transmissions between them and God but they’d embarked on a progressive agenda to gradually destroy any similarly talented competition to the degree people’d either forget there’d ever been such things as psychics or at least’d relegate them to the level of mere figures in fairy tales.

This’s also I suggest why God adds to the section of Zechariah you provide this qualifier “In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. 9 This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' "

The inference being I suggest despite what the anti-judges and the anti-prophets might think their behaviour was all part of a design to bring about a new form of human being operating at a level beyond even that of Samuel.

Doubter, you're quite correct but Michael is simply ignoring your evidence as it doesn't chime with this odd tangent he's on just now.

Hey Michael have you seen this yet?:

Here's an interesting alternative viewpoint on Egyptian tomb robbing:

I agree with the author that we don't know enough about the psychology of ancient people to understand their motives.

Regarding the Maxims of Ptanhotep, here's what Wikipedia has to say:

"The Maxims of Ptahhotep or Instruction of Ptahhotep is an ancient literary work attributed to Ptahhotep, a vizier under King Isesi of the Egyptian Fifth Dynasty (ca. 2414-2375 BC). It is a collection of maxims and advice in the sebayt genre on human relations, that are directed to his son. The work survives today in papyrus copies, including the Prisse Papyrus which dates from the Middle Kingdom and is on display at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. There are considerable differences between the Prisse Papyrus version and the two texts at the British Museum."

It would appear that the surviving Maxims date from the Middle Kingdom, leaving in doubt what the original Maxims may have said. I base this purely on Wiki, and since I had never heard of this document until now, I could of course be wrong.

Oh dear, the Middle Kingdom, that still predates the Bronze Age collapse.

"The Middle Kingdom ... predates the Bronze Age collapse."

That's true, and I think one weakness (among many) of Jaynes's theory is that he puts too much emphasis on a scenario involving the Thera eruption and subsequent migrations. As I said in one of these posts, there's a Velikovsky-like quality to these speculations.

To me, a more plausible view is that what Jaynes calls bicamerality, and what I think of as an underdeveloped sense of self combined with an active involvement in the psychical/spiritual world, began to die out in the 2nd millennium BC as societies became more complex and literacy became more widespread. The more primitive, preliterate societies probably hung on to the earlier mentality longer. (Much of this is actually hypothesized by Jaynes himself, when he's not talking about Thera.)

Egypt, being one of the most advanced societies, developed the newer mindset sooner, while the ancient Hebrews, being less advanced, came to it later. Of course there is no way of dating the changes with any exactness, and the transitional period in each society must have been lengthy and confusing.

The big picture is that a mentality rather alien to our own predominated in the 3rd millennium BC and was mostly gone by the 1st millennium BC (except in isolated areas like Mesoamerica). The 2nd millennium was a time of transition and (probably) frequent clashes between the two mindsets, which could not understand each other.

It may or may not be true - I really don't know - but I find it an intriguing notion. The alternative, I guess, is to believe that the human mindset has not changed in any substantial way in the last 5,000 years. I find this unlikely. In fact, I suspect that the evolution of consciousness is an ongoing project, and that even people who lived as recently as the Middle Ages or the Renaissance may have been more different from us moderns than we suppose.

One other point (also following Jaynes), as an additional argument for a major "change of mind" in the ancient world.

To me, there's a stark difference between the mentality represented in the Iliad and the mentality of the Odyssey. The Odyssey is generally rather modern in its approach, with human warmth, a suspenseful plot, and moments of high drama. The Iliad, for the most part, is like watching a five-set tennis match between two lumbering Eastern Europeans who robotically smash serves at each other while never cracking a smile.

To put it another way, the Odyssey is a charming and enthralling narrative, while the Iliad is a tedious chore. The reason is that the Odyssey's characters are recognizably human, with a relatively full range of emotional and intellectual responses; they are, as Hollywood likes to say, "relatable." I doubt anyone can really relate on a personal level to the hotheaded but intellectually vacant warriors of the Iliad. In the centuries between the composition of these epics, something fundamental has changed in the Greek mentality.

(Note: Though both works are dubiously ascribed to "Homer," they are clearly the product of long oral traditions, and there is no reason to think they had a common origin. Possibly Homer, if he existed, was a particularly celebrated bard whose name became synonymous with the tradition as a whole.)

Michael Prescott - Here's an interesting alternative viewpoint on Egyptian tomb robbing:

Excerpt: "Archeologists have discovered numerous "letters to the dead" which were written by Egyptians asking for some kind of assistance here on earth from those who had gone into the afterlife. In this context, the dead were viewed as being able to intercede in some fashion on behalf of the living in order to influence things in a positive way. It is very conceivable that people who had written such letters would feel resentment toward the dead if their requests appeared not to be answered, especially if the living person had been faithful in keeping up his part of the funerary contract by leaving frequent offerings in the chapel of the dead person's tomb."

Speculation without much basis.

Excerpt: "This kind of resentment could also occur at a higher level and be directed toward royal tombs during times in which the well-being of the whole country suffered. Massive taxes were regularly levied in order to supply offerings to the funerary temples of dead kings, who, in return, were supposed exert a positive influence over the affairs of Egypt. Understandably, negative feelings toward the royal dead would rise during times of natural, economic, and social troubles, and could easily have motivated the pillaging of royal tombs."

This is more likely, but sheer desperation fueled by poverty and hunger leading to the ignoring of religious proscriptions was more likely the prime motivation. These factors probably were most important during the first intermediate period (between the Old and Middle Kingdoms), when there was a breakdown of central government, and probably much starvation and strife. In any case, such a resentment would be just another example of logical, rational inference ("left-brained" thinking) based on the beliefs of the time.

It would appear that the surviving Maxims date from the Middle Kingdom, leaving in doubt what the original Maxims may have said. I base this purely on Wiki, and since I had never heard of this document until now, I could of course be wrong.

Egyptologists have had varying opinions about precisely when the Instructions of Ptahhotep were composed. The late 6th Dynasty estimate is by Egyptian language and literature authority Miriam Lichtheim in Ancient Egyptian Literature - Old and Middle Kingdoms. She used the 12th Dynasty Prisse Papyrus for the text. Even if the date of composition is assumed to be 12th Dynasty (1990-1800 BC), these expressions of the capacity for deception and introspection are still long before the period of the Iliad and the Hebrew Old Testament.

Another example from the Middle Kingdom is the Satire of the Trades, a deliberately derisive characterization of all trades other than the scribal profession. The text achieves its satirical effects by exaggerating the hardships of the other professions and by omitting all their positive and rewarding aspects. These are examples of humor in the service of literary satire, unflattering comparisons and exaggerations that become outright fabrications (Lichtheim).

The problem here is that Michael is recognising evolution of literature (perfectly valid), but is then attempting (Like Jaynes) to equate that to evolution of consciousness. I find this equation unconvincing.

"Michael is recognising evolution of literature (perfectly valid), but is then attempting (Like Jaynes) to equate that to evolution of consciousness."

True enough, but I would think that the evolution of one would influence or reflect the evolution of the other. Besides, it's not just literature. It's all kinds of written communications. See my latest post for an interesting diplomatic letter.

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