Consciousness and the voices of the mind

Julian Jaynes
1986 Canadian psychology  
Born in West Newton, Massachusetts, Julian Jaynes did his undergraduate work at Harvard and McGill and received both his master's and doctoral degrees in psychology from Yale. While the Psychology Department at Princeton, which he joined in 1964, is still his academic base, Dr. Jaynes has had numerous positions as Visiting Lecturer or Scholar in Residence in departments of philosophy, English, and archeology and in numerous medical schools. Starting out as a traditional comparative
more » ... st, his approach was to chart the evolution of consciousness by studying learning and brain function in various species, from the protozoa to worms, reptiles, and cats. Finding this approach unsatisfactory, he changed course and has more recently examined consciousness through historical analysis, introspection, and the study of language and metaphor. Dr. Jaynes has published widely, his earlier work being on topics such as imprinting in birds and the neural mediation of mating behavior in cats. His more recent work culminated in 1976 in his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Elaborating upon this book are numerous more recent articles published in a diversity of journals such as The History of Ideas, Art World, and The Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Few problems have had as interesting an intellectual trajectory through history as that of the mind and its place in nature. Before 1859, the year that Darwin and Wallace independently proposed natural selection as the basis of evolution, this issue was known as the mind/body problem with its various and sometimes ponderous solutions. But after that pivotal date, it came to be known as the problem of consciousness and its origin in evolution. Now the first thing I wish to stress this afternoon is this problem. It is easy for the average layman to understand. But paradoxically, for philosophers, psychologists, and neurophysiologists, who have been so used to a different kind of thinking, it is a difficult thing. What we have to explain is the contrast, so obvious to a child, between all the inner covert world of imaginings and memories and thoughts and the external public world around us. The theory of evolution beautifully explains the anatomy of species, but how out of mere matter, mere molecules, mutations, Julian Jaynes's invited Bauer Lecture presented at the 1983 McMaster-Bauer Symposium on Consciousness.
doi:10.1037/h0080053 fatcat:hwmaezpggfe7zopfe7q3yqzefu