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The Bicameral Mind of Roderick Jaynes
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“Roderick Jaynes,” who was nominated for Best Editor Oscars for Fargo and No Country for Old Men, is the pseudonym under which the Coen Brothers jointly edit their movies.

I’ve never seen anybody suggest this, so let me toss out the idea that the name Roderick Jaynes is a tribute to Julian Jaynes, the author of the 1976 crank / genius classic The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

Jaynes, who taught at Princeton while Ethan Coen majored in philosophy there, argued in his 1976 book (published to considerable acclaim while Ethan was a Princeton undergrad) that ancient people (up until about 1000 BC) did not possess consciousness. When Achilles hears a god telling him what to do, he’s hearing one half of his brain talking to the other half.

Jaynes writes:

The characters of the Iliad do not sit down and think out what to do. They have no conscious minds such as we say we have, and certainly no introspections. It is impossible for us with our subjectivity to appreciate what it was like. When Agamemnon, king of men, robs Achilles of his mistress, it is a god that grasps Achilles by his yellow hair and warns him not to strike Agamem-non (I :197ff.). … It is the gods who start quarrels among men (4:437ff.) that really cause the war (3:164ff.), and then plan its strategy (2:56ff.). It is one god who makes Achilles promise not to go into battle, another who urges him to go, and another who then clothes him in a golden fire reaching up to heaven and screams through his throat across the bloodied trench at the Trojans, rousing in them ungovernable panic. In fact, the gods take the place of consciousness.

The beginnings of action are not in conscious plans, reasons, and motives; they are in the actions and speeches of gods. …

Even the poem itself is not wrought by men in our sense. Its first three words are Menin aedie Thea, Of wrath sing, O Goddess! And the entire epic which follows is the song of the goddess which the entranced bard ‘heard’ and chanted to his iron-age listeners among the ruins of Agamemnon’s world.

Note that the big budget 2004 movie Troy with Brad Pitt as Achilles just gave up on trying to portray the Olympian gods and left them out of the story. This was widely criticized as being untrue to Homer, but it’s not easy figuring out how to make a movie version of The Iliad make sense to modern audiences.

I haven’t read Jaynes’ book, just flipped through it in a book store. My impression is that most people who have read it have concluded (at least for public consumption): I don’t think this is true; just don’t ask me to prove it’s not true.

Wikipedia writes:

The Bronze age collapse of the 2nd millennium BCE led to mass migrations and created a rash of unexpected situations and stresses which required ancient minds to become more flexible and creative. Self-awareness, or consciousness, was the culturally evolved solution to this problem. This necessity of communicating commonly observed phenomena among individuals who shared no common language or cultural upbringing encouraged those communities to become self-aware to survive in a new environment. Thus consciousness, like bicamerality, emerged as a neurological adaptation to social complexity in a changing world

That seems strikingly relevant to the Late Obama Age Collapse and its accompanying psychological disorders.

Anyway, I would guess that the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes for the Coens’ collaboration is a joke about Julian Jaynes’ speculation about the two-sided brain.

 
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  1. anonymous[308] • Disclaimer says:

    you could say, Steve, the reaction to this batshit idea mostly falls under what Princeton’s most famous philosopoher in 1976 called “the incredulous stare.”

    Catastrophic counterintuitiveness The theory does not accord with our deepest intuitions about reality. This is sometimes called “the incredulous stare”, since it lacks argumentative content, and is merely an expression of the affront that the theory represents to “common sense” philosophical and pre-philosophical orthodoxy. Lewis is concerned to support the deliverances of common sense in general: “Common sense is a settled body of theory — unsystematic folk theory — which at any rate we do believe; and I presume that we are reasonable to believe it. (Most of it.)” (1986, p. 134). But most of it is not all of it (otherwise there would be no place for philosophy at all), and Lewis finds that reasonable argument and the weight of such considerations as theoretical efficiency compel us to accept modal realism. The alternatives, he argues at length, can themselves be shown to yield conclusions offensive to our modal intuitions.

    • Replies: @pyrrhus
    , @Anonymous
    , @Anonymous
  2. Jeff Y says:

    That is a hilarious and brilliant title.

  3. Anonymous[364] • Disclaimer says:

    At first thought this sounds like some real-life zombie apocalypse. Millions of people might be currently moving away from modern consciousness toward some modern version of the Bronze-Age bicameral mind, perhaps one where the social media companies act as Achilles’ gods. That might explain things like this Trump Derangement Syndrome where millions are living in an alternate reality as if losing all agency and becoming subject to the whims of some alternate god. Frightening.

  4. “When Achilles hears a god telling him what to do, he’s hearing one half of his brain talking to the other half.”

    Or, per Ockham,

    When Achilles hears a god telling him what to do, he’s hearing a god telling him what to do.

    Now me, and the god who told me to do that, are going to have to spend the rest of the day defending it.

    • Replies: @Inquiring Mind
  5. Tyrion 2 says:

    Yes, this was my first thought when I came across the NPC meme too. Of course it could have seeped in via Westworld series 1 being strongly undergirded by that book.

    • Replies: @HA
  6. slumber_j says:

    Sounds right. The question of course then becomes, where did the “Roderick” come from?

  7. Coemgen says:

    Hm, the bicameral mind theory explains why only Subsaharans are affected by voodoo.

    Are there structural differences in the corpus callosum of Subsaharans versus Europeans?

    So, would the opposite of a bicameral mind be a suite mind? Sweet!

  8. “The characters of the Iliad do not sit down and think out what to do. They have no conscious minds such as we say we have, and certainly no introspections.”

    Bruno Snell made similar claims in “The discovery of the mind in Greek philosophy and literature” (1946, English translation 1953). (Jaynes acknowledged Snell’s work in a footnote on p.71, but claimed that “our conclusions are different”, without spelling out what the differences are.) I don’t buy either version. Greek literature may have lacked the kind of omnipotent narrators we know from 19th century novels, who always know exactly what is going on in the minds of every single character. (Hell, Tolstoy’s narrators even tell us what bulls feel, what dogs think, what horses imagine, what trees experience.) The Greeks, like the authors of the Icelandic sagas, arguably just wrote from a much more realistic perspective: their narrators, like the rest of us, cannot actually read minds, but are stuck with informed guesses on the basis of observable behavior. As William Ian Miller puts it in his brilliant book on Njals Saga, the authors of the sagas never pretend to have privileged access to the internal mental states of the characters, but rather “relegate us to the same techniques we use to discern motives in our own lives. When I try to figure you out, or what drives your behaviors, I make inferences based on your reputation, what you say, what you actually do, the setting in which you are doing and saying this, and certain conventional understandings about what the usual forms of action in such a setting are, what facial expressions and bodily postures should accompany those actions, and more” (Why Is Your Axe Bloody?, p13).

    • Replies: @Eastfag
  9. Jaynes’s book was required reading for me in 1984, and I think his foundation is still going strong. It was a very ambitious thesis but hard (impossible?) to prove.

    The current nonsense seems more attributable to the practical elimination of genuine scarcity, so people have time to dream up First World problems instead of things like repairing neural tissue or developing controlled fusion. I still hypothesize that this is the Great Filter for the Kardashev scale.

    In other words, absent existential struggle, humans start to go mad.

    • Agree: Colin Wright
    • Replies: @TheJester
  10. I quit reading anything that uses “BCE” and “CE” instead of B.C. and A.D.

    You know right away you are dealing with a politically correct author.

    • Agree: Jim Don Bob, Coemgen
    • Replies: @Ian M.
  11. HA says:
    @Tyrion 2

    ” Of course it could have seeped in via Westworld series 1 being strongly undergirded by that book.”

    http://www.julianjaynes.org/blog/category/westworld/

    As Tufts philosophy professor Daniel Dennett said in a recent lecture, “Logical spaces are created that didn’t exist before and you could never find them in the hardware. Such a logical space is not in the hardware, it is not in the ‘organs’; it is purely at the software level… I think [Jaynes] is really talking about is a software characterization of the mind, at the level, as a computer scientist would say, of a virtual machine.”

    Sounds pretty lame, actually — i.e., right down Dennett’s alley.

  12. Seeing you mentioned the Iliad Steve, have you read the War Nerd’s version of the Iliad? It’s a fun read and the book isn’t to long or difficult.

  13. Hmmm says:

    Million Dollar question: Have certain cultures still not developed consciousness?

  14. Yes, the book is a bit dry. But the idea is so revolutionary and interesting, one wants to accept it-just to reward that cleverness.

    anon

    • Replies: @Aristosthenes
  15. dearieme says:

    “And the entire epic which follows is the song of the goddess which the entranced bard ‘heard’ and chanted to his iron-age listeners among the ruins of Agamemnon’s world.”

    Sounds rather like Mo’s purported lessons from the Archangel Gabriel. But Mo’s history might be rather different from the yarns believed by his followers of the past many centuries; my own suspicion is that he was a more interesting, complicated, and impressive figure than the one featured in those tales.

    On which lines: how about John the Baptist, Jesus, and The Apostle Paul?

  16. I didn’t’ know the book was so old, but a friend gave it to me about 15 years ago. As soon as I came upon a section that said that human beings have no consciousness without a language, I could see it was complete bunk. My girlfriend at the time asked me what the book was about, and I told her about that part. She had told me before that, that she had spent time in a really remote part of the country some of her life, and she said she went months without barely talking to anyone. Was I unconscious all that time, she asked me? There are plenty of thoughts we have for which we don’t have words.

    Jaynes came across as an intelligent idiot, once you thought about the thesis of his book, and I only got through about 10% of his bunk. Oh, yeah, his theory that all animals are operating without any consciousness of their own existence is a tough one to swallow for any pet lovers. Like you said, it’s hard to prove, I guess. That’s the kind of psychology, the devising of tests to prove things like this, that I can actually see being creative and worthwhile, as opposed to all the rest of the field full of mentally unstable women.

    Anyway, I would guess that the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes for the Coens’ collaboration is a joke about Julian Jaynes’ speculation about the two-sided brain.

    You don’t usually expect anyone in the movie business to be that bright, but I’ll make an exception for these two guys.

    One more thing: Thank you, Steve, for not writing BCE! I’m really sick of that crap, and I’ve used up most of a whole ink cartridge correcting library books on this, as I read them. (BCE to BC is easy, CE to AD, is trickier – get a thick pen.)

    • Replies: @Yevardian
    , @Ian M.
    , @Anonymused
  17. jb says:

    I was in college when Jaynes’ book came out, and even then I saw a huge problem. Europeans had been running into remote and previously uncontacted tribes throughout the 18th and 19th and into the early 20th century, and while those people often had outlandish beliefs, they never displayed the sort of split mentality that according to Jaynes was the pre-modern norm. I’m sure Jaynes must have had some explanation for this (surely he must have, right?), but the objection looks fatal to me. We’re supposed to believe that the Bronze Age Collapse triggered a transformation in the consciousness of New Guinea highland farming societies? Seriously?

    This isn’t something I would normally say, but with his focus on Homer and all, Jaynes’ book strikes me as hopelessly Eurocentric.

    (And yeah, if Ethan Coen was at Princeton at the same Jaynes then you’re probably right about the pseudonym).

    • Replies: @Bill P
  18. The Bronze age collapse of the 2nd millennium BCE led to mass migrations and created a rash of unexpected situations and stresses which required ancient minds to become more flexible and creative. Self-awareness, or consciousness, was the culturally evolved solution to this problem

    Didn’t work on the Jews, did it?

    • LOL: AndrewR
    • Replies: @Old Jew
  19. Great book. I read it at university in the late 80s. I think I only read it in the unconscious part of my bicameral mind though. Made a good companion piece to Closing of the American Mind. My mind was mostly being closed at the time by drinking, Kav style. Closing of the Kiwi Mind thanks to the Southern Cross Tavern.

    Maybe the NPCs are returing the mind to a pre-Homeric state?

    • Replies: @HA
  20. dr kill says:

    Like I said somewhere else, I did just finish the Iliad on Audiobook. The human feelings of anger, lust, revenge are as today, but the interference of the Gods is quite remarkable. I interpret it as an excuse for individual human bad behavior readily believed by the peers of the time. The other remarkable feature of ancient Greeks is the emphasis they put on family, that is to say breeding, that is to say genetic predisposition. In my business it is rare to outrun your breeding, and I’m sure Menelaus would agree.

  21. Anon7 says:

    In the Troy movie, Achilles’ mother Thetis is presented as an older woman and she talks with her son on Earth.

    I think the recent book The War Nerd Iliad does an amazing job of depicting what it would be like if a god actually spoke to you, and I thought immediately of the Jaynes book when I read it.

  22. If such a profound development only began to occur a few millennia ago, that would have startling implications for human neurological diversity today. Jaynes would have been able to advance a theory like this in 2018.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
  23. If one is trying to justify things with appeals to adaptation, then one can ask why did the ancients even need to hear the Gods? What is the purpose of the subjective experience? Why have the subjective experience at all?

    Same goes for our modern introspection and self-awareness. Why even have the subjective experience?

    If you want to follow Steve’s lead, look up the faculty directory at Bard College at Simon’s Rock during the time when Joel Coen attended for where the ‘Roderick’ part came from. I don’t know if there’s anything there.

  24. I am a moviehead but I boycott Coen Bros. films because of their shtick of over-the-top cynicism. As for the bi-cameral mind schtick, that’s a cop of Bruno Snell’s The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought. Very influential at one time, Snell’s theory is that Homeric man’s consciousness was pre-unitary, not yet a single consciousness which was invented later on. That the attribution of intention to various parts inside the body (the hero’s phren (diaphragm), his thumos (anger) etc) was the proof. Bullshit! I used to ask defenders of that absurd theory this trick question. Hey, prof, how do you translate the Homeric word boulomai or theleis? (boulomai means “I intend”, theleis means “you want”). The physical bi-camerality of the brain in the case of normies cedes to a single consciousness which effortlessly unites the 2.

  25. We particularly enjoyed “Troy”. Showing Achilles being seen by his men with the arrow in his heel while dying from other wounds seemed particularly poignant as to the source of the myth.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  26. eric says:

    I remember reading Jaynes’ argument for the first time. I spent several hours going down that rabbit trail before I realized I had to get to work.

    The subjects of Old Babylonian letters are always objective. Rarely are reasons given for directive, and never purposes. Around 500 BCE, the Axial age, psyche and nous arise. The conscious subjective mind are a clear break, and seen in the writings of Heraclitus, Pindar, Confucius, Loa-Tse, and Zarathustra.

    Note that in the Bible, Amos is fiercely righteous, absolutely assured, nobly rude, speaking a blustering god-speech with the unconscious rhetoric of an Achilles or a Hammurabi. Ecclesiastes would be an excellent fireside friend today, very existentialist.

    According to Julian Jaynes, “the idols of a bicameral world are the carefully tended centers of social control, with auditory hallucinations instead of pheromones.” Writing gradually eroded the “auditory authority of the bicameral mind.”

    • Agree: Desiderius
    • Replies: @ia
    , @James Speaks
  27. Thea says:

    According to modern neuroscientists we stil don’t actually have a conscience or concrete identity of self.

    Moving to cities initially unleashed human behavior hithertoo unseen so societal collapse could as well. But the desire and motivation could have been there all along just unexpressed.

    The Greek word for I is ego.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  28. OT but in the news – because they are headed to your neighborhood:

    tell Mexico to turn back the “caravan” – or – suffer a daily closing of its consulates in the US, doubling the number closed each day. Require everyone in or associated with a closed consulate to exit the USA within 12 hours.
    Mexico has 50+ consulates across the USA. Knock Mexico’s arrogant diplomats out of their cozy scams.

    Day 1 of non-compliance, close 1 Mexican consulate.
    Day 2 of non-compliance, close 2 Mexican consulates.
    Day 3 – close 4.
    Day 4 – close 8.

    And so on, until compliance or all closed.
    Once closed, stays closed. No going back to old status quo.

    • Replies: @Eagle Eye
  29. @Almost Missouri

    It is a “cool” theory, but so was Alfred Wegner’s Continental Drift along with Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collison.”

    Velikovsky tells a good yarn about what the ancients experienced, but there is no known physics to make the planets of the solar system do that. Wegner was for the longest time in the same boat, that is, until ultra-precise geodetic measurements actually saw the continents moving, and seismic studies of the Earth supported an explanation that the extremely hot rocks underneath us act as a very sticky fluid on which the continents float.

    How does anyone explain Jaynes? If the switch from the Bicameral Mind to the modern Conscious Mind is genetic, it must have been a mutation of one individual, right? And how did that gene spread that fast, say, in the 600 years from Eric Cline’s date of the end of the Bronze Age world to the consciously reflective era of Classical Greece and the Near East?

    So is the development of a self-reflective conscious mind socially transmitted? I guess such a “meme” can spread much faster than a gene, especially since self-reflection offers tremendous competitive advantages?

    But how can upbringing make such a huge difference? It used to be that everything from mental illness to high IQ was explained as a social phenomenon, but the pendulum has swung, reluctantly in the case of IQ, to genes? Bettelheim blaming Ice Princess moms for their autistic kids has been discredited in favor of high-achieving women mating with high-achieving men and breeding freaks?

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
    , @athEIst
  30. Harold says:

    Why do Alexandre Dumas’ characters never just think things but have to mutter them under their breath?

    • Replies: @Anonym
    , @Willy
    , @J.Ross
  31. @HA

    What is the disagreement with Dennett? As I recall his arguments, he rejects the Mind-Brain dichotomy, which seems to have observational rigor behind it: as the brain deteriorates, whether through age or trauma, so too does consciousness. Hardware and software seems like a sound metaphor.

    • Replies: @HA
    , @Ian M.
  32. BABY BOOMER DRUG USE EXPLAINS OBAMA AND JEBBY BUSH

    Mass Immigration And Monetary Extremism Brought On By Baby Boomer Mammonite Madness

    Barack Obama and Jebby Bush are well known to have burnt their frigging brains out on heavy duty drugs of all kinds.

    Sailer says Obama drove people that were already drugged out wackos even more bonkers?

    Bullshit!

    Drug addict baby boomer arseholes Barack Obama and Jebby Bush did more drugs than Cheech and Chong combined, DAMMIT!

    Can you imagine how much more mentally deranged George W Bush would have been if he was a DRUGGY RAT like his brother, Jebby, rather than just a garden variety DRUNK SKUNK?

    Tweet from 2014:

    Tweet from 2015:

  33. Jaynes regularly held small get togethers with sherry for underclassmen before dinner at the Wilson center. I was a sophomore from a small country school, and really didn’t know much, but he was really a nice guy, not condescending, and drew people out in a real Socratic fashion. I had no idea what his politics were. In short, a distinctly different sort from academics of today’s schools. I read his book after graduation, and it was very entertaining, but as noted, I still don’t know what to make of it.

  34. Merde says:
    @slumber_j

    Could be from John Sladek’s ‘Roderick’. It was published a few years after Jaynes’ book. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roderick_(novel)

  35. @slumber_j

    As befits a variable that is both independent and irrelevant, the “Roderick” is obviously Random.

  36. Wikipedia writes:
    The Bronze age collapse of the 2nd millennium BCE led to mass migrations and created a rash of unexpected situations and stresses which required ancient minds to become more flexible and creative.
    [...] Thus consciousness, like bicamerality, emerged as a neurological adaptation to social complexity in a changing world.

    And was the concept of the Holy Spirit introduced to the eastern Roman Empire in the 1st century AD to similarly deal with social complexity in a changing world?

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
    And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
    Galatians 3:28-29 King James Version (KJV)

    And was Jung’s concept of the “collective unconscious” really just a 20th century AD reselling of the Holy Spirit but with the Christian serial numbers sanded off?

  37. Anon[201] • Disclaimer says:

    The notion that self-consciousness is pegged to a historical date is idiotic. Their brains didn’t differ much from ours. People before 1000 BC were just basically hunter-gatherers and primitive villagers, and their cultural level was inherently limited, exactly the way these same groups of people are limited today. They didn’t record their thoughts in writing very much in any way that we can read, they didn’t care that they didn’t. They weren’t trying to impress anyone with their brains except for the people around them, which they could do quite adequately by talking. That was their entire world, and they were quite happy to stay inside its cultural limits.

    Julian Jaynes is just a silly, weak-minded thinker who knows zero about Anthropology.

    • Replies: @Anonymouse
  38. @slumber_j

    Julian was the last pagan emperor, and Roderick the last king of the Goths?

    • Replies: @Lot
  39. If you check the oldest literature we have (Egyptian, Chinese, Mesopotamian, archaic layers of OT/Hebrew Bible, ..), you’ll see that characters portrayed in these fictions possessed self-awareness. So did Homer’s heroes, in both epics.

    I’ve read Jaynes’ book & it is brilliantly deluded, like Koestler’s on Khazars or Otto Muck’s on Atlantis.

    • Replies: @Seth Largo
    , @Verymuchalive
  40. OFF TOPIC

    CIA?

    Cunts

    Idiots

    Assholes

    CIA globalizer treasonous rat, Abigail Spanberger, wants to flood more illegal alien invaders into the United States to attack workers in the United States.

    The evil treasonous rats at the CIA push open borders mass immigration in order to destroy cultural cohesion and national sovereignty in the United States.

    The CIA is evil and it must be obliterated.

    Evil globalizer morons have infested the CIA for decades.

    End The CIA Corruption; End The Evil Globalizer CIA Immediately

  41. The beginnings of action are not in conscious plans, reasons, and motives; they are in the actions and speeches of gods. …

    Muse, speak to me now of that resourceful man who wandered far and wide after ravaging the sacred citadel of Troy ..

    .. is this joker suggesting that Odysseus was also an NPC?

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  42. @HA

    It sounds like he is getting into the metaphysical and spiritual but giving it a technical and materialist packaging.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  43. Using Ockham’s razor as it is employed on this site, we must first ask, how “bicamerality” came to be in the first place. What state of mind came before it? How did bicamerality give an evolutionary advantage to the being possessed by a split mind? How did it arise? What was “Nature” or the environment selecting for when “she” culled other states of mind and preferred bicamerality as the ground state of the human mind? In what way did it confer an evolutionary advantage?

    Secondly, why would one half of the mind obey the other implicitly? When have humans ever been so compliant? It’s doubtful whether stiff-necked humans ever obeyed the other half of their brains. And why would listening to the dictates of an unknown and unknowable source confer Darwinian adaptivity? What actual authority did the Voice of the Gods possess? I mean, whence did they come by their wisdom? To have survived in a Darwinian world, following that wisdom would have conferred some advantage. Were the voices of the Gods created randomly? And then culled by natural selection? That seems a monkeys typing Shakespeare type of argument.

    Thirdly, The process of evolution seems to run in the other direction. Animals have a less divided mind than we humans. Our divided mind seems to have emerged from a prior state of psychic unity. Division is a source of conflict and presents us with our uniquely human problem of being a problem to ourselves. Consciousness is perplexing.

    The 1960’s were an attempt to escape from the divided consciousness. Drugs, Zen, Peace and Love, ecstasy through sex and dancing, transcendental meditation, Yoga, anything to get rid of the anguish caused by the divided mind. It’s hard for people today to realize just how much of hippie culture revolved around overcoming the split in consciousness. Virtually every self-help manual written then had this as its theme. Jaynes’ book came just on the heels of this period, contemporaneous with the popularization of knowledge about the bifurcation of linguistic/visual functions within the brain. Right brain “creative” /Left brain “rational” was the popular gross oversimplification. In that sense, Janynes’ theory was a product of its time, except that he, in a novel, probably drug-induced revelation, reversed the accepted chronology of the evolution of consciousness.

    Interesting and fun to ponder, but when I look at my dog’s peaceful face I find it hard to believe that our previous state of consciousness was more divided than is today’s.

    • Replies: @CJ
  44. anon2028 says:

    Maybe you could ask Napoleon Chagnon whether ancient peoples possess consciousness. Or Michael Alpers, who studied kuru among the Fore people on Papua New Guinea.

  45. Hmm. I am reading C.R. Hallpike’s How We Got Here and he says the same, only a bit different. The rise of state societies, with kings, warriors and priests, created a need for thinking about how to organize the plebs. But no mention of Jaynes.

    But it is amazing. In the Iliad the gods run the show. But in the Odyssey the story is about Odysseus’ agency, how he gets himself out of jams. And he’s able to outwit some of the demi-gods.

  46. The Z Blog says: • Website

    Well, the concept of moral agency probably cannot exist without a well defined after life, at least when it comes to describing the actions of those in the past. How could Homer contemplate the moral struggle of Achilles, when all that could matter to Achilles was being remembered?

    In the Odyssey, the ghost of Achilles tells Odysseus that he would rather be a poor serf on earth than lord of all the dead in the Underworld.

    Therefore, remove the quest for eternal salvation and the deeds of men are either random or directed by fickle and capricious gods. From the perspective of Homer and his intended audience, there was simply no point in knowing the mind of Achilles, because Achilles could never be morally conflicted.

    • Replies: @ia
    , @Ian M.
  47. Lot says:

    There are several New Chronologies, mostly crankish.

    This one seems plausible however:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Chronology_(Rohl)

    The biggest change is that it suggests the ancient dark age was much shorter, and instead if Trojan War being 400 years before Homer, it was more like 50 years apart.

    • Replies: @Anonymouse
  48. @WowJustWow

    B.S. to me. But i guess really a question of what do you mean by “consciousness”.

    Are Austrailian aboringines conscious? Sub-saharan Africans? Native Americans? Eskimos? Arabs?

    If your talking about the ability to separate thinking from pure id, then Chrissy Blasey Ford and a lot of NYT writers are not conscious.

    • LOL: bomag
  49. Anon[348] • Disclaimer says:

    Mexodus in America, Blaxodus in Europe.

    Whites are the Canaanites/Palestinians whose land of milk and honey must be taken by others.

    Israel has replenishment-immigration. More Jews coming to replenish Jews.
    West has replacement-immigration. More non-whites coming to replace whites.

    West turning into one big West Bank.

    • Agree: Almost Missouri
    • LOL: IHTG
  50. Anonymous[144] • Disclaimer says:
    @AnotherDad

    If your talking about the ability to separate thinking from pure id, then Chrissy Blasey Ford and a lot of NYT writers are not conscious.

    Hence the “NPC” meme, which is making that bunch furious right now. Their anger is merely proving what a direct hit it was.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/us/politics/npc-twitter-ban.html

    • Replies: @Anon
  51. I think the Coen brothers must be admirers of Roderick Toombs (better known as Rowdy Roddy Piper) and Jayne Mansfield. They added an s to Jayne, making it plural. Can’t you guess why? (I admire them, I mean her, too.)

  52. Very interesting. The following Wiki entry caught my eye:

    “This necessity of communicating commonly observed phenomena among individuals WHO SHARED NO COMMON LANGUAGE (emphasis mine) or cultural upbringing encouraged those communities to become self-aware to survive in a new environment”

    The above implies the pre-existence of language (whether spoken or written matters not). If so, did not the very existence of language –any language– let alone “cultural upbringing”, suggest at least some degree of self-awareness which preceded the events describe therein?

    Jes’ askin’.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
  53. Ricardo Duchesne, historical sociologist at the U of New Brunswick, takes Jaynes seriously. This and other pieces by him at eurocanadian.ca about the construction of Western consciousness are worth reading: https://www.eurocanadian.ca/2018/07/the-higher-cognitive-fluidity-of-white-origins-consciousness.html

  54. TWS says:

    You might expect something like Janus Jaynes in that case.

  55. Lot says:
    @Desiderius

    It was a very common visigoth name. Spanish versions are Rodrigo and Rodriguez.

  56. Lot says:
    @AnotherDad

    “Are Austrailian aboringines conscious? Sub-saharan Africans? Native Americans? Eskimos? Arabs?”

    Depends. I don’t think they have internal lives the way Western man does. Partly for lack of language to describe types of thoughts mental states, partly for lack of ability and education.

  57. Lot says:

    “That seems strikingly relevant to the Late Obama Age Collapse and its accompanying psychological disorders.”

    Increasing mental illness is probably a mix of dysgenic fertility and immigration, delayed marriage and childbirth, economic inequality, social isolation, and lack of physical labor and exercise.

  58. ia says:
    @eric

    I don’t think non-Greeks, while very aware, were at that time capable of creating the concept of tragedy. Tragedy is the chorus composed of Dionysion satyrs commenting on the Apollonian hero. Usually in mockery in anticipation of the arrival of the god, Dionysus, himself. This would be a revolution in consciousness unheard of elsewhere, in many cases to this day. In fact, modern day progressives with their obsession on changing human nature through magic is by definition un-selfconscious and un-self aware.

    I would also doubt if Confucius, Loa-Tse and Zarathustra could comprehend a Prometheus who hated all gods, stole their fire and gave it to humans. Maybe I’m wrong but I’ve never heard of anything like tragedy or Prometheus arising in any other human group, with or without writing.

  59. @Anon

    >The notion that self-consciousness is pegged to a historical date is idiotic.

    My favorite counter-factual to that absurd theory is the fact that the grammars of the earliest IE languages (if not most languages) employ first person, second person and third person singular and plural (I, you, he/she, we, you plural, they) which is the way individual conscious minds still parse social reality.

  60. This might explain why the one state legislator who had the nerve to file a lawsuit against God was serving in unicameral Nebraska.

  61. @Lot

    >Trojan War being 400 years before Homer, it was more like 50 years apart.

    Not likely. The best thought-out paper on that vexed question is Ian Morris’ The Use and Abuse of Homer. It was published in Classical Antiquity in 1986. Short of living next door to the research library of a major world university, the trick to reading it is this. Your local public library in its databases section may likely make the JSTOR archive available to patrons. If it doesn’t get yourself a customer relationship with a public library that does (use your cousin’s library card number who lives in Seattle). Unfortunately, not all learned journals are archived in JSTOR. (It was that archive that Swarz the RRS inventor hacked and commenced downloading/stealing when a student at MIT. He committed suicide before his sentencing date after being found guilty of stealing what wasn’t his). The other trick for snaring learned papers behind publishers’ paywalls I am keeping to myself. Ian Morris also wrote War: What is it good for?

    • Replies: @Lot
  62. Anon[277] • Disclaimer says:

    So, as long as we’re speculatin’, I’ll guess that Roderick is a hat tip to Roderick Usher, as in House of. Brother/sister identity, house splits down the middle, etc.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  63. ia says:
    @The Z Blog

    there was simply no point in knowing the mind of Achilles, because Achilles could never be morally conflicted.

    Is Harvey Weinstein morally conflicted? He certainly invited Nemesis.

    • Replies: @Pericles
    , @Inquiring Mind
  64. Spandrell says: • Website

    Seriously Steve? Just read the book. Completely worth your while.

  65. Old Jew says:
    @Verymuchalive

    Just pulled Jaynes’s book from my shelves.

    Chapter 6 “The moral history of the Khabiru” describes how the transition worked for/on my ancestors.

    Never hurts to read a book, before venturing comments.

    sf

  66. Luke Lea says:

    re: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

    Then why did it happen initially in classical Greece? For they seem to have been the first to begin to think like moderns. I’ve always wondered about that.

    • Replies: @El Dato
    , @J.Ross
  67. Eric Havelock and Walter Ong argued something similar to this, but they attributed the emergence of consciousness to the shift from orality to literacy.

  68. Ibound1 says:

    Hector seems pretty self aware to me – when describing how he feels before fighting.

    “Wife, I too have thought upon all this, but with what face should I look upon the Trojans, men or women, if I shirked battle like a coward? I cannot do so: I know nothing save to fight bravely in the forefront of the Trojan host and win renown alike for my father and myself. Well do I know that the day will surely come when mighty Ilius shall be destroyed with Priam and Priam’s people, but I grieve for none of these- not even for Hecuba, nor King Priam, nor for my brothers many and brave who may fall in the dust before their foes- for none of these do I grieve as for yourself when the day shall come on which some one of the Achaeans shall rob you for ever of your freedom, and bear you weeping away.”

    How the Chinese, Japanese, Indians (I’m thinking Buddha), Aztecs developed consciousness as demostrated by their literature and poetry is unclear. No Bronze Age collapse. Hell the Aztecs never even had a Bronze Age.

  69. @Bardon Kaldian

    The retort would be that you are reading about these characters as filtered through the lens of a more recent consciousness, as would be all written accounts.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  70. pyrrhus says:
    @anonymous

    The Lascaux cave paintings, ca. 40,000 BC, suggest that Jaynes is just another crazy, and unobservant, Ivy League twerp…..

  71. Bill P says:
    @jb

    I noticed the same thing. I’ve read a lot of literature on early contacts with American Indians (much of it compiled by meticulous Jesuits), and this mentality doesn’t come up. Indians were perfectly capable of subjective thought, and often articulated defenses for their own (mis)behavior that were grounded in reason rather than “the spirit told me to do it.”

    What the Jesuits did notice, however, was that Indians had no concept of good and evil that corresponded with our own. That in my mind is profound evidence of the power of culture to change people’s psychology.

    Jaynes came up with this theory after the lateralization revelations that followed the corpus callosotomy studies in the 60s. There’s a lot of insight in his book, which I found to be a very interesting and pleasant read, but it isn’t so much a breakthrough as it is a gateway to more enlightened speculation on the nature and origin of human consciousness. In other words, it’s a bold, elegant idea, and although it probably isn’t correct it demands further inquiry and competing theories.

  72. Anonymous[405] • Disclaimer says:

    War for the dawn of the rise of the planet of the one-track minds

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  73. El Dato says:
    @Luke Lea

    As I remember Jaynes said it was likely to have started in Mesopotamia. From there you infect everyone with this new ILOVEYOU virus. Though how did it get to the Americas?

    It’s probably not true but it Might Be True. It’s a darned good read!!

    I remember reading about this in New Scientist which used to come out with wonderful cranky articles (one about the Earth expanding for example, titled: “EARTH IS EXPANDING AND WE DON’T KNOW WHY”, because if you shrink it down, disappearing the oceans, the continents kinda fit together into a sphere – don’t know what you would do with the wrinkles…)

    For those who like Neal Stephenson, he has based his Cyberpunk-era “Snow Crash” on Jaynes.

    Also: Daniel Dennett: “Julian Jaynes’s Software Archeology”

    http://www.julianjaynes.org/pdf/dennett_jaynes-software-archeology.pdf

  74. Anonym says:
    @Harold

    Why do Alexandre Dumas’ characters never just think things but have to mutter them under their breath?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Cessette_Dumas

  75. J.Ross says: • Website

    There are many intriguing explanations to mysteries in the myths (eg, the Saturn hypothesis), which work within the shadow of myth, and become embarrassing fetishes when you try to square it with science.
    Maybe it would help to bring up that the reason Christian authors as far forward as the Enlightenment would talk about Venus doing something (clearly referring to neither neurochemicals nor a floating naked chick) was that, whereas the Semitic volcanic all-God-force is necessarily abstract and totalitarian, the Hellenic and other pantheonic gods are convenient conceptual handles for forces like love. It is boringly possible that this is the same sense used originally (Poseidon sent a gale = there was a bad storm, etc).

  76. Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, in conversation with Jordan Peterson.

    http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/09/intuition-and-two-brains-revisited.html

    I think this is the guy they are talking about.

    http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Dr._Two-Brains

  77. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    Rule of Law against the Caravandals.

  78. @joeyjoejoe

    But the idea is so revolutionary and interesting, one wants to accept it-just to reward that cleverness.

    I think that attitude is how the modern world wound up in the mess that it’s in.

  79. Anonymous[805] • Disclaimer says:
    @anonymous

    Jayne’s idea is nonsense. We are increasingly finding examples of animals having a consciousness so how likely is it that this is something that developed in the last couple of thousand years or so and spread throughout humanity?

  80. Pat Boyle says:
    @slumber_j

    Obviously it comes from Sir Roderic Murgatroyd in Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan. Roderic has the big Halloween aria ” When the Night Wind Howls”.

  81. Anon[145] • Disclaimer says:

    Trenton-area scenester Julian “Split-Brains” Jaynes might well have invented “the hot take” in ’76, but still a decade on from some Peruvian delinquents inventing punk rock:

    https://consequenceofsound.net/2013/08/fact-los-saicos-was-the-first-punk-band-ever/

    Also, the Pirahã invented Asperger’s:

    https://aspergerhuman.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/asperger-language-found-in-amazon-tribe/

  82. Willy says:
    @Harold

    Why do Alexandre Dumas’ characters never just think things but have to mutter them under their breath?

    Many of Dumas’ novels were published as serials in newspapers, and he was often paid by the column inch. Each new speaker was a new paragraph, and a longer line of column inches. So you get dialogue like:

    “He’s here!”
    “Who? Not …”
    “Yes. He’s here at last.”
    “What can we do?”
    “We must hide”
    “But where.”
    “Quick. Come with me”

    and so on.

  83. CJ says:
    @ThreeCranes

    The 1960’s were an attempt to escape from the divided consciousness. Drugs, Zen, Peace and Love, ecstasy through sex and dancing, transcendental meditation, Yoga, anything to get rid of the anguish caused by the divided mind. It’s hard for people today to realize just how much of hippie culture revolved around overcoming the split in consciousness. Virtually every self-help manual written then had this as its theme.

    Agree, I was there. It strikes me that self-help books are now out of fashion; the last one to be a big hit was Tony Robbins’s Awaken the Giant Within in the 1990s, basically a tome of applied neuro-linguistic programming. That was a very different approach than, for instance, R.D. Laing’s 1960 book The Divided Self which I first read several years later.

    http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSPDP466qQ9iPEUJvYehStu6ntnzwsOTb35jigvJefQCKhiNsgN

    There was a lot of nonsense in self-help books, but at least their consumers wanted to be better people. That notion seems to have less appeal today.

  84. The hypothesis is absurd. If it were true, we’d expect some populations not to have evolved mono chambered minds into the medieval or modern period. That doesn’t seem to have happened.

  85. Clyde says:

    OT and great news. The Linux patriarch and patriarchy is returning. Torvalds is back. The trans-crapulous crazies, those Linux wack jobs are going to be sidelined:

    At Open Source Summit Europe in Scotland, Linus Torvalds is meeting with Linux’s top 40 or so developers at the Maintainers’ Summit. This is his first step back in taking over Linux’s reins.
    A little over a month ago, Torvalds stepped back from running the Linux development community. In a note to the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML), Torvalds said, “I need to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development entirely. I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately.”

    Via ZD Net

    • Replies: @Pericles
  86. could roderick be a shout out to Rod Serling… they probably wouldve been heavily influenced by the story telling of the Twilight Zone, still one of the greatest story telling shows in TV history, if not the best of all time. Their movies seem kind of extended Twilight Zones in many way, with a more muddled moral tale… And Hail Ceaser! was the most reactionary right wing movie ever to come out of hollywood.

  87. notanon says:

    apparently there are a lot of people who don’t have an inner voice – maybe it used to be everyone?

  88. Anonymous[805] • Disclaimer says:
    @anonymous

    There is some evidence that up until Middle Ages or so that people had no mental concept of blue. Though for me I’m not completely convinced by the evidence that exists.

  89. OT. Steve, you (and others here) might like this. A conversation between Adam Carolla and Tucker Carlson. Two So Cal guys do an autopsy on our once great state and nation.

    https://adamcarolla.com/blogs/podcast-archive/tucker-carlson

  90. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Luke Lea

    Alan Moore does some interesting stuff with this in his Jack the Ripper comic. The example he cites to introduce the concept in a later description is from Rome, a god appearing to a Roman military patrol and being acknowledged by multiple people. I suspect he had embellished it.
    Your question is probably obviated by the fact that Jaynes’ model would only apply to an initial manifestation. The myths we know are heavily edited palimpsests handed down by believers, priests, and writers, none of whom “saw” the gods.

  91. Muse says:

    Currently reading “the Master and his Emmisary” by Ian McGilchrist which seems to deal directly with the physiology and function of our split brain, and it’s impact on consciousness and western culture. Rather ambitious thesis on its face.

    Picked it up based on a recent post by Steve Hsu on his inforproc blog on blogspot. Given that I am on page 100 of 550, I remain agnostic on whether McGilchrist succeeds, although Hsu’s recommendations rarely turn out to be journeys down a rabbit hole.

  92. @Bardon Kaldian

    Actually, Arthur Koestler’s “The Thirteenth Tribe” is a well-argued book, using multiple historical and other sources ( for example, blood analysis ). It is not easy to dismiss. Indeed, quite the contrary: it has stood up to the test of time very well.

  93. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Harold

    Interesting point — so Frank Herbert has consciousness slipping away again in the interminable dialogues of the Dune books?

  94. Maciano says:

    Hilarious.

    Some ppl really are empty vessels, #NPCsarereal

  95. @Hmmm

    My opinion (and I think also the opinion of almost everyone here whether they want to admit it or not): not to the same degree. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, … unless you insist that everyone must be ablsolutely equal in everything all the time.

  96. Dennis Dale says: • Website

    the gods take the place of consciousness.

    Or maybe “the gods” was really just a way of describing consciousness before “cosciousness” was named.

    • Agree: vinteuil
    • Replies: @Vinteuil
    , @Almost Missouri
  97. @Anon

    I’ll guess that Roderick is a hat tip to Roderick Usher, as in House of. Brother/sister identity, house splits down the middle, etc.

    Sounds plausible.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  98. @eric

    Another way to express the idea is that self-reflection is an evolutionary trait that is developing, still, across cultures, but with some divergence. Clear thinking European/West Asian minds see the self and the rest as separate entities, and ponder their relationship with a god. Clear thinking East Asian minds see the self as a continuum of the family, and the family as a continuum of the culture, and reflect on the relationship between the universe and the self.

    Sub-Saharan Africans do not reflect on the self, nor imagine that the consequences of their actions form an environment that adversely affects them. In a sense, the wild, untamable beast that is the animism of the jungle has become a tamable monster known as white men.

    • Agree: EdwardM
  99. They blew it at that link. It’s not “Menin aedie Thea,” but “Menin aeida Thea.”

  100. Romanian says: • Website

    An interesting movie that hints at the bicameral mind is Noah, in which the eponymous hero is played by Russel Crowe. It is a weird movie, which I enjoyed for some reason. The fact that the movie made Genesis into an allegory for the scientific conception of the Universe, from Big Bang through to solar system formation and evolution down to man is something I had previously read in Anne Rice’s vampire novels before she turned Christian. But the weirdest part was when God spoke directly to Noah and we could literally hear the voice in his head. Maybe this is the bicameral mind.

  101. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Anonymous

    How could this anecdote possibly be true? How did the Victorian cave-men account for the loss of color, lack of sound, and the glitching? And how the hell can anyone tolerate this bad pulp adventure commonplace “it is said” used in reference to a major public event in a major city from well within the modern era?
    People wincing at a jump scare, sure. People leaning over at the phone-behind-the-door scene in Rosemary’s Baby, sure. People running away from a soundless black and white train, “it is said,” ridiculous.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  102. notanon says:

    *if* this is true then one possible way to explain the various objections raised in this thread is that it’s a genetic mutation which evolved many times in many places but for a long time it wasn’t adaptive except for a small minority of shaman space-heads and then for some reason (social complexity?) it became adaptive and is now more widespread as a result?

    (makes me think of Gore Vidal’s book “Creation” which mentioned a whole bunch of religious figures (forget which ones) who all popped up around the same time (500BC?) in different regions)

    (might tie in with previous discussions about IQ tests, dealing with abstractions etc)

  103. @Expletive Deleted

    No, he is suggesting–or should be suggesting, if he understood his own argument–that the gods were much more players back then.

  104. @J.Ross

    I can’t speak for the “Victorian cave-men” (lol), but I knew a Somali herdsman who had lived as a traditional pastoralist until age 11 when a drought forced him to a Catholic mission. There, he and many other herdspeople saw their first movie. It was B&W, featuring a truck driving over the desert raising a cloud of dust. He said he and everyone else coughed and flapped their garments as if the dust were real.

  105. @Cagey Beast

    Jaynes or Dennett? Well, doesn’t matter I guess, as I agree either way.

    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
  106. Anon[295] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    They may not be fully aware of all their mindless parroting, but they’re fully aware of how much social pressure there is to conform, and they’re angry about the stress of that.

  107. @AnotherDad

    So it sounds like you, Anonymous and Lot are kinda confirming Jaynesianism…

  108. Vinteuil says:
    @Dennis Dale

    the gods take the place of consciousness.

    Or maybe “the gods” was really just a way of describing consciousness before “consciousness” was named.

    Yes – this.

    At first glance, it looks like Jaynes was using the word “consciousness” as a term of art meaning something quite different from what most of us mean by “consciousness” – i.e., conscious experience – “what-it’s-like,” “how-it-feels,” or however you want to put it.

    One might interestingly wonder about the consciousness of the lower animals (cf. Nagel’s famous article “What is it like to be a bat”) – but doubting the “consciousness” of Achilles because he interprets his conflicting emotions as the promptings of conflicting gods?

    That’s just silly.

  109. vinteuil says: • Website
    @HA

    Sounds pretty lame, actually — i.e., right down Dennett’s alley.

    I’ve sometimes thought that it would explain a lot about Dennett’s writing if he’s not conscious & has no idea what it’s like to be conscious – so his program generates the darndest things. (Same goes for the Churchlands, only more so).

  110. Lot says:
    @Anonymouse

    Is your other trick an email to the author? Works for me. Jstor if I remember right also is open to third world IP addresses, so an easy proxy away.

    • Replies: @Anonymouse
  111. @Anonymous

    My Chinese is spotty, but there are hints that in ancient times green could be used for blue

  112. @Dennis Dale

    Or maybe “consciousness” is what happens when the gods withdraw.

  113. Still quite sleepy sadly, but it seems a lot of behavior in the Iliadic vein is explainable by high testosterone action oriented minds with high dopamine. These days generally without explicit gods presence.

    It is suggestive that high dopamine is implicated in the pathology of schizophrenia, but the underlying development and organization of the brain is important – high dopamine is also correlated with high status and therefore high testosterone, “automatic cognition” and action

  114. @Inquiring Mind

    I disagree with Jaynes. He is trying to do it backwards.

    As another commenter put it, he is trying to shove spiritual metaphysics into a materialist wrapper.

  115. @Lot

    No, that’s not the trick. As for writing to authors of papers inaccessible behind publishers’ pay-walls, politely asking them to send a copy, that is usually a slam-dunk if you can locate them and their email address. In cases when the author is dead, that ploy is less effective.

  116. HA says:
    @Cowboy Shaw

    Great book. I read it at university in the late 80s.

    Except it’s big on supposition, short on any actual science. There are numerous hunter-gatherer peoples whose cultures still have little to do with Homer or the Old Testament. It would have been useful to incorporate them in the theory, not to mention the differing cultural experiences of schizophrenia (which is supposedly less prone to malevolent voices in other cultures). On and on. Yes, putting all that together is difficult, and requires money and time, and it’s a lot easier to just and sit theorize, but that’s why theories alone don’t mean much.

    The brain is a complex system, and like the six men and the elephant, it’s easy to spin all sorts of ideas that seem to be right sometimes. Think of Harold Bloom who believes (or wants us to think he believes) that Shakespeare invented humans or first-person (or however he would phrase that), or Freud with his wacky ideas on Moses. Or maybe Carlos Castaneda — he was hot stuff for a while. At one time, right about the time Jaymes was putting this theory together, there were a few wacky books trying to link Buddhism with quantum mechanics. It’s a long list.

    All these Gladwell-esque grand theories will entertain a few people and make for some lucrative speaking engagements, but in the end, the people spouting them are hucksters, like old-time meteorologists who always remember the times they got it right, but brush off all the other times they were wrong (to the extent that you can even pin down their theories to the extent that you can clearly say when they’re wrong or right).

    Admittedly, that’s pretty much how politically correct views on genetics are hyped as well, but if you have the ability to see that for the scam that it is, you should ave enough not to get taken in by this kind of thing, too.

    • Agree: Daniel Chieh
  117. jb says:
    @Anonymous

    Many languages (e.g., ancient Greek) don’t have words distinguishing blue and green (hence the “wine dark sea”. The speakers are perfectly capable of seeing the difference; they just can’t describe the difference easily. There are a few languages that have no color words at all, just black and white, and more that have only black, white, and red. But there are also languages that have more color words than English. For example, Russian has a specific word for light blue (“baby blue”) that is analogous to English “pink” (light red). If you are interested in the ways languages differ, and how those differences affect human thought, I recommend Through the Language Glass.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  118. Ian M. says:

    Jaynes’s thesis – at least as presented here – is retarded.

    Of course pre-modern man was conscious. I mean, animals are conscious for heaven’s sake.

    Less introspection does not equate to lack of consciousness. And introspection has more to do with how society is structured. See, for example, Mary Douglas’s Natural Symbols.

    By the way,, rise of mirrors in the 15th century might have had something to do with the modern over-emphasis on introspection:

    https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/roundtable/mirror-effect

  119. Ian M. says:
    @Hmmm

    Having a culture presupposes consciousness.

  120. HA says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    “What is the disagreement with Dennett?”

    I would not disagree with what Vinteuil said, but suffice it to say that anyone who advises those who share his belief system to refer to themselves as “Brights” — isn’t.

  121. Ian M. says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    …his theory that all animals are operating without any consciousness of their own existence is a tough one to swallow for any pet lovers.

    Not to worry: animals have consciousness.

    Descartes famously believed that animals did not have consciousness, preferring instead to believe that they were basically machines. This was a consequence of his redefinition of matter and the soul. Descartes was brilliant, but that was one very dumb idea of his.

  122. @jb

    English has vastly more words for color today than it did say 200 years ago. The Pantone corporation has created a vast number of names for colors, as have clothing catalog copywriters, although some people these days just use the Pantone number. For example, the LA Dodgers fan club calls itself 294 after the precise shade of blue in the Pantone catalog that is used by the team for its uniforms.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    , @jb
  123. Ian M. says:
    @The Z Blog

    Well, the concept of moral agency probably cannot exist without a well defined after life, at least when it comes to describing the actions of those in the past.

    The ancient Israelites had a concept of moral agency without a well-defined afterlife.

  124. @Steve Sailer

    It used to be just the 64 crayon set by Crayola, but now one can just go to the store for house paint to see a lot of color names. There are hundreds of cards, each with 5 or 6 different tints of a shade. All of them have different names. That’s probably a fun job, naming those.

    It be cool if some geeks in that Dodger club started using the Hexadecimal 6 digit code for that same shade – see how long the rest of them catch the idea. You don’t have to be a geek, really, just someone who uses any of the graphics programs: Photoshop, Gimp, MS-Paint, whatever. You can type in your own Hex and see what it represents.

    “Flesh” is out though. (Just trying to get back toward the theme of the blog.)

  125. anonymous[100] • Disclaimer says:
    @ChrisZ

    You are of course correct.

  126. One thing this immediately makes me think of is Mohammad.

    After all, he wasn’t mad — quite rational, it would seem. He’s also a historical personage — unlike Jesus, we have some reason to believe we’re reading something approximating what he actually recited.

    At the same time, he clearly thought he was hearing the voice of God — although to our ear, it sounds like he’s sorting through Christianity and Judaism and setting something down that makes sense in the context of seventh-century Arabia.

    Finally, I’ll go on to note the thesis may be creating a sharp division where there isn’t any. After all, medieval and early modern Christian saints practically routinely hear the voice of God — and yet, that little hiccup aside, often managed to behave rationally.

    Perhaps there wasn’t a sharp break so much as a gradual shift which has only ended in modern times. After all, Hitler literally boasted that he was ‘like a sleepwalker.’ His choices came to him unbidden, and he simply acted on them. That doesn’t sound all that distinct from Achilles’ thought process — or that of Joan of Arc.

    Maybe it hasn’t ended at all. These days, I suppose if anyone feels divinely inspired, they’ve the good sense to keep quiet about it. Donald Trump is walking hand-in-hand with God — but he knows he’d best not say anything.

  127. Jim Given says:

    Steve-
    Lots of us thought Julian Jaynes’ notions had Something Right about them. There is a Jaynes cult dedicated to promoting his notions.

    A thorough debunking of Jaynes’ theory insofar as it is testable occurs in E. Fuller Torrey’s book:

    https://www.amazon.com/Evolving-Brains-Emerging-Gods-Religion/dp/0231183364/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1540259925&sr=1-2

    Torry is of course concerned with any theories about schizophrenia – he is an authority on this subject, both in clinical and neurophysiological terms.

    The heir apparent in terms of Big Ideas about the mind seems to be the theories of Simon Baron-Cohen, who instead focuses upon autism. I have not searched for a similar critique of his similarly thought-provoking ideas.

  128. Svigor says:

    While we’re throwing out speculation: I just tumbled to the fairly obvious meaning of “Google”; Go ogle. Only took 15 years for that one to just pop into my head.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  129. Ian M. says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    Philosopher Edward Feser on Dennett:

    Elizabeth Anscombe once famously judged David Hume a “mere – brilliant – sophist.”” Mr. “Bright Stuff” can take pride in the fact that he is almost in Hume’s ran as a philosopher, insofar as if you delete just the middle word in Anscombe’s description of Hume, you get a dead-on summation of Daniel Dennett.

    Dennett claims that consciousness is an illusion. This is too stupid for words. For something to be an illusion presupposes consciousness. An illusion is an illusion to consciousness. That’s just what an illusion is.

    And don’t get me started on his homuncular decomposition theory of intentionality.

    …he rejects the Mind-Brain dichotomy, which seems to have observational rigor behind it: as the brain deteriorates, whether through age or trauma, so too does consciousness.

    This doesn’t prove anything. All it shows is that the mind depends on the brain for its proper functioning. In fact, there are strong (I would say decisive) arguments to show that the mind cannot be identical to the brain.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
    , @Anon
  130. @Svigor

    Kind of like Phoebe midway through “Friends” run standing outside the coffee shop:

    “Central Perk!?! Oh, I just got that.”

    • Replies: @Svigor
    , @Mr. Anon
  131. jb says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Yes, but how many of those words are really part of the language, in the sense that most English speakers recognize and use them naturally? I, for example, knew that there was a color named “puce,” but when I looked it up just now I found out it was different than what I vaguely thought it was (I thought it was a sort of muddy green, but it’s actually a sort of muddy purple brown). I just made a quick effort to count them, and I seem to have about 16 colors in my verbal palette. If I became a fashion designer I’m sure I’d acquire more, but I think those would count as jargon, rather than a part of the common tongue. (I actually do a certain amount of graphic design as part of my job, but I never worry about the color names, just the RGB values).

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  132. @jb

    It could be that people in the future will have fewer words for colors as they shift to using Pantone numbers:

    https://pantone294.com/

    Poets used some words to describe colors that we barely use anymore: e.g., cerulean.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    , @Svigor
  133. @notanon

    I’d forgotten about this, but I once ran into a guy who seemed to authentically not understand what the was meant by an inner monologue. It was prefaced by someone saying something like “you know how you can talk yourself into being really mad about something blah blah blah”. Dude was like like “no, what do you mean, talk to yourself?”

    It’s bizarre. I’m sitting here talking to you, and/or myself in writing this. How do you even read without an inner voice??

  134. @Steve Sailer

    The breakdown of the Gender Binary.

    Oh wait, that’s the Matrix brosisters.

  135. @Steve Sailer

    I don’t know, keeping up with the Joneses means 128 Crayolas.

  136. Svigor says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Google’s a lot more subtle, though. It’s not one of these obvious puns. It just looks and sounds like a cutesy nonsense word. I ran it past like 7 people so far, and they were all like, “oh. Yeah.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they came up with it in a really dorky way, like a computer spat out a huge list of compound words using a thesaurus/dictionary database of relevant words, and “Google” won.

    But yeah, I never even bothered to ponder it – didn’t think there was anything to ponder. It just hit me a week ago or so.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  137. Svigor says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Is cerulean a basic color in painting (art)? IIRC it is. Sort of a sky blue, again IIRC.

  138. @Seth Largo

    Anyone can see that Gilgamesh, Sinuhe, Abel, Cain & Odysseus possess self-awareness & do not act as if a god has put thoughts or emotional/mental impulses in their had. They think & reflect as unified consciousnesses clearly different from other consciousnesses, which, according to Jaynes, would be impossible since his imaginary “breakdown” has happened after most of these figures had been written down.

  139. @Svigor

    So, Sergey and Larry’s original idea was a porn search engine: Go Ogle?

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    , @Desiderius
  140. Eagle Eye says:
    @Sarah Toga

    Day 1 of non-compliance, close 1 Mexican consulate.
    Day 2 of non-compliance, close 2 Mexican consulates.
    Day 3 – close 4.
    Day 4 – close 8.

    Of course, all the brothers-in-law and cousins of major politicians posing as consular officials will be declared personae non gratae and shipped back post-haste to lindo Mexico.

  141. Mr. Anon says:
    @John Henry

    We particularly enjoyed “Troy”. Showing Achilles being seen by his men with the arrow in his heel while dying from other wounds seemed particularly poignant as to the source of the myth.

    In the Illiad, Achilles died long before Troy fell. In the movie, he was inside the wooden horse with Odysseus. The biggest surprise in Troy was that Sean Bean survived while everyone else died.

  142. Mr. Anon says:

    This was widely criticized as being untrue to Homer, but it’s not easy figuring out how to make a movie version of The Iliad make sense to modern audiences.

    Wolfgang Petersen could have made it more like Ray Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts. Stilted acting and clunky stop-motion effects and all, it was a more entertaining movie.

  143. Mr. Anon says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I had always assumed it just referred to the large number 10^100. But then I just now found out that is spelled “googol”, not “google”.

  144. Mr. Anon says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Isn’t that what it is?

    Actually, it was originally going to be called “Wankster”.

  145. Australian Aboriginal visual memory seems superior to whites because they don’t have the incessant internal muttering that some whites have:

  146. @Steve Sailer

    Y’all know where it really comes from, right?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Googol

    Many of us who were familiar with Merkle’s Boner were also familiar with the Googol story as both were found in the sort of books boys used to read for fun.

    https://www.amazon.com/Giant-Book-Strange-Sports-Stories/dp/0394932870

  147. Pericles says:
    @ia

    Is Harvey Weinstein morally conflicted? He certainly invited Nemesis.

    Well, he experienced the Jewish equivalent: He got caught.

  148. Pericles says:
    @Clyde

    That quote doesn’t say anything about what Torvalds intends to do. I’d require a bit more information before declaring any sort of victory.

    He could take the opportunity to swan onto the stage as Linusella for all we know.

    • Replies: @Clyde
  149. Pericles says:
    @notanon

    apparently there are a lot of people who don’t have an inner voice – maybe it used to be everyone?

    I don’t have one, or not much of one. A lot of peace and quiet in here.

    • Replies: @notanon
  150. Pericles says:
    @JeremiahJohnbalaya

    It’s bizarre. I’m sitting here talking to you, and/or myself in writing this. How do you even read without an inner voice??

    I just read the words and understand them. No internal vocalization required.

    (How do you read quickly if you need an inner voice?)

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  151. Why does the content on isteve keep getting dumber and dumber?

  152. @ia

    There is a Who Whom question here on inviting Nemesis.

    I think it is pretty clear that Mr. Weinstein is a cad and certainly more than just friends with houseplants, but as to whether he is a criminal, is it just me or is his prosecution in New York tripping over its shoelaces on overzealous witness prep and under zealous disclosure of evidence?

    I say this isn’t over until its over — unlike Mr. Cosby, he may yet get rehabilitated?

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
    , @ia
  153. @Ian M.

    I’m not sure Dennett’s critics get him entirely right. Here’s another view of Dennett:

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/27/daniel-dennetts-science-of-the-soul

    The opposite of the materialist error is the gnostic error which seems to be more Dennett’s concern.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
  154. notanon says:
    @JeremiahJohnbalaya

    yeah there’s a screenshot floating around twitter of various NPCs complaining about the NPC meme saying stuff like “we’re supposed to listen to people who hear voices in their head?”

    all politics aside literally mind blowing

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  155. notanon says:
    @Pericles

    it’s probably not entirely adaptive or everyone would have it

    mine never shuts up which is a constant distraction

    (the good side if there is one is it’s like the brain thinking about multiple things at once – like parallel processing – not so great for singular focus maybe (like hunters?) but useful in some contexts?)

  156. Finspapa says:

    Maybe the Lama promised to give everyone consciousness in the year 1000 BC? Oonga Galoonga.

  157. Clyde says:
    @Pericles

    Is there a David Letterman type show in Sweden that you could get on with your comedy act? The solid part of this Linux story is that Torvalds is meeting and consulting with the 40 top Linux developers as he eases back into being the Linux leader. This says to me he is ganging up with senior guys and the few senior women who are serious and are not interested in tranz garbage and SJW garbage. These top older Linux people know lots of corporate money & support and their own personal compensation is at stake. So why let a small group of young, sexually confused anarchists ruin this?

    • Replies: @Pericles
  158. @Achmed E. Newman

    Remember, when you change CE to AD, the AD has to come in front of the date, unlike BC, BCE, and CE.

    Ides of March, 44 BC = 15 March 44 BCE

    but

    14th of October, AD 1066 = 14 October 1066 CE

    It can be a challenge for your pen.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  159. Anon[414] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ian M.

    But the Cartesian mind-brain dichotomy and the thesis that “the mind cannot be identical to the brain” are not the same thing. I would say the second is true without a doubt, though I might have a hard time proving it, but I am very much agnostic about the first.

    As for Dennett, I’m not qualified to have an opinion about his worth as a philosopher, though I can categorically say he’s wrong about certain things. He’s not a joke like Dawkins. Feser’s characterization of him is great (the man should be an insult comic) but it must be kept in mind that that relates to Feser’s areas of concern, which may not entirely overlap with Dennett’s.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Ian M.
  160. Anon[414] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon

    Okay, though, I do have to agree with HA: but suffice it to say that anyone who advises those who share his belief system to refer to themselves as “Brights” — isn’t.

    Though he has a decent enough reputation that I think he must have done some good work at some point.

  161. Pericles says:
    @Clyde

    I hope you’re right, but he’s taking a very roundabout route if he wants to do that. Torvalds signed off on the Code of Conduct in the first place and committed it. Here’s the commit message.

    The Code of Conflict is not achieving its implicit goal of fostering
    civility and the spirit of ‘be excellent to each other’. Explicit
    guidelines have demonstrated success in other projects and other areas
    of the kernel.

    Here is a Code of Conduct statement for the wider kernel. It is based
    on the Contributor Covenant as described at http://www.contributor-covenant.org

    From this point forward, we should abide by these rules in order to help
    make the kernel community a welcoming environment to participate in.

    Signed-off-by: Chris Mason
    Signed-off-by: Dan Williams
    Signed-off-by: Jonathan Corbet
    Signed-off-by: Olof Johansson
    Signed-off-by: Steven Rostedt (VMware)
    Signed-off-by: Greg Kroah-Hartman
    Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds

    So, it seems more likely he will be handing over the keys.

    • Replies: @Clyde
  162. @Anonymused

    Ah, rats! That’s gonna be a lot of rework. Thanks … a lot.

    • Replies: @Anon
  163. @Inquiring Mind

    Part of the case against Weinstein collapsed when the prosecutors admitted that one of the #MeToo babes lied. Weinstein had promised to get her an acting job if she agreed to perform oral sex and she agreed.

    http://time.com/5421881/prosecutors-drop-charges-weinstein/

  164. Anon[414] • Disclaimer says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    AD (xxxx) is the traditional method, but (xxxx) AD should also be valid Latin grammar and is increasingly common in English-language practice.

  165. TheJester says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    In other words, absent existential struggle, humans start to go mad.

    Interesting point … and expressed succinctly. Feelings and emotion over reason as people madly pursue life as they want it to be rather than it is. This does much to explain the absurd politics of the current era.

  166. @JeremiahJohnbalaya

    I used to not sound out words in my head when reading. It IS a lot faster, but I got in a bad habit somehow now. I can still read pretty fast, and don’t read with voice part of the time, if I can get myself to not think about it. Why would you need made-up sounds in your head to read? That’s what I was writing about in my short review of Jaynes’ book in my first comment.

    Thinking that people* must have voices in their heads to be conscious, as Jaynes does, is crazy talk, but yet it’s the premise for his whole damn book. There need not be any language at all for one to have plenty of ideas floating around in there. That’s why I quit reading that book. I know BS when I see it, and didn’t want to waste time on the rest of that thick book after that.

    BTW, I think you can tell if a writer is sounding out his words before typing easily enough. If there are some homonym mistakes, then it is obvious, as that’s how they get in there. Of course, it’s hard to prove the opposite, as some people (not this guy, unfortunately) have good proofreaders or proofreading skills.

    * or animals, for that matter.

    • Replies: @Old Jew
  167. @Pericles

    (How do you read quickly if you need an inner voice?)

    I think you and I must be the only ones around here who are not schizophrenics. For me, it may be part-time too.

  168. @notanon

    all politics aside literally mind blowing

    All hyperbole aside, I sure as hell hope not. I don’t feel bad about left-wing brains exploding, as it’s usually a net cost savings, but guys, be careful out there… with your use of literally. I mean, you young people literally use literally every other literal word!

    • Replies: @notanon
  169. Clyde says:
    @Pericles

    Torvalds and the other senior signers can live with the new rules. They will act calmer and nicer and are too powerful to be taken down by malicious accusations. But for Linux development going forward, these new rules on sexual harassment etc might mess things up. You are right to be skeptical, and thanks for shining more light on this.
    If only Linux could get rid of the extreme feminist and tranz activists! What disruptive crazies!

  170. Ian M. says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    Thanks for the article, I’ll have to check it out later (no time to read a 10,000 word article at the moment… I’m assuming it’s at least that long since it’s The New Yorker).

    Wouldn’t the opposite of the materialist error be idealism? Of the two errors, materialism seems to me to be the more obviously false one.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
  171. Ian M. says:
    @Anon

    But the Cartesian mind-brain dichotomy and the thesis that “the mind cannot be identical to the brain” are not the same thing. I would say the second is true without a doubt, though I might have a hard time proving it, but I am very much agnostic about the first.

    Agree. I reject Cartesian dualism also, although I think it’s not half as insane as the mind-brain identity thesis. But I would suggest that the current reductionist materialist philosophy is a result of Descartes’s errors. We need to go back to a pre-Cartesian conception of matter.

    Feser’s characterization of him is great (the man should be an insult comic) but it must be kept in mind that that relates to Feser’s areas of concern, which may not entirely overlap with Dennett’s.

    I’ll have to look up the context of that quotation (I don’t have the book at hand: it’s from The Last Superstition, which I highly recommend as the best refutation of the New Atheism I’ve come across; it also has a fantastic introduction to Plato’s theory of forms). However, one of Feser’s specialties is philosophy of mind (he wrote an introductory book on philosophy of mind called… Philosophy of Mind) in which he engages with Dennett’s thought on consciousness.

    Here’s Feser’s review of Dennett’s recent book From Bacteria to Bach and Back:

    http://www.claremont.org/crb/article/one-long-circular-argument/

  172. notanon says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    i think we’ll find that the NPC meme accidentally spreading the knowledge that some people have an inner voice and some don’t will have a dramatic effect somewhere down the line (not necessarily political).

  173. @Ian M.

    Excerpt from the article: (edit – I see you’ve already been poking around in it. Looks like we agree more than we disagree).

    [MORE]

    After the introduction and summarizing part was over, Chalmers, carrying a can of Palm Belgian ale, walked to the front of the room and began his remarks. Neurobiological explanations of consciousness focus on brain functions, he said. But, “when it comes to explaining consciousness, one needs to explain more than the functions. There are introspective data—data about what it’s like to be a conscious subject, what it’s like experiencing now and hearing now, what it’s like to have an emotion or to hear music.” He continued, “There are some people, like Dan Dennett, who think that all we need to explain is the functions. . . . Many people find that this is not taking consciousness seriously.” Lately, he said, he had been gravitating toward “pan-proto-psychism”—the idea that consciousness might be “a fundamental property of the universe” upon which the brain somehow draws. It was a strange idea, but, then, consciousness was strange.

    Andy Clark was the first to respond. “You didn’t actually give us any positives for pan-psychism,” he said. “It was kind of the counsel of despair.”

    Jesse Prinz, a blue-haired philosopher from cuny, seemed almost enraged. “Positing dualism leads to no further insights and discoveries!” he said.

    Calmly, nursing his beer, Chalmers responded to his critics. He said that he could make a positive case for pan-proto-psychism, pointed out that his position wasn’t necessarily antimaterialist (a pan-psychic force could be perfectly material, like electromagnetism), and declared that he was all in favor of more neuroscientific research.

    Dennett had lurked off to the side, stolid and silent, but he now launched into an argument about perspective. He told Chalmers that there didn’t have to be a hard boundary between third-person explanations and first-person experience—between, as it were, the description of the sugar molecule and the taste of sweetness. Why couldn’t one see oneself as taking two different stances toward a single phenomenon? It was possible, he said, to be “neutral about the metaphysical status of the data.” From the outside, it looks like neurons; from the inside, it feels like consciousness. Problem solved.

    Chalmers was unconvinced. Pacing up and down the galley, he insisted that “merely cataloguing the third-person data” could not explain the existence of a first-person point of view.

    Dennett sighed and, leaning against the wall, weighed his words. “I don’t see why it isn’t an embarrassment to your view,” he said, “that you can’t name a kind of experiment that would get at ‘first-personal data,’ or ‘experiences.’ That’s all I ask—give me a single example of a scientifically respectable experiment!”

    “There are any number of experiments!” Chalmers said, heatedly. When the argument devolved into a debate about different kinds of experimental setups, Dennett said, “I think maybe this session is over, don’t you? It’s time to go to the bar!” He looked to Chalmers, who smiled.

    Among the professional philosophers, Dennett seemed to have won a narrow victory. But a survey conducted at the end of the cruise found that most of the grad students had joined Team Chalmers. Volkov conjectured that for many people, especially those who are new to philosophy, “it’s the question of the soul that’s driving their opinions. It’s the value of human life. It’s the question of the special position of humans in the world, in the universe.”

    or many years, I took Chalmers’s side in this dispute. I read Dennett’s “Consciousness Explained,” but I felt that something crucial was missing. I couldn’t understand how neurons—even billions of neurons—could generate the experience of being me. Terrence Deacon, an anthropologist who writes about consciousness and neuroscience, refers to “the Cartesian wound that separated mind from body at the birth of modern science.” For a long time, not even the profoundly informed arguments that Dennett advanced proved capable of healing that wound.

    Then, late last year, my mother had a catastrophic stroke. It devastated the left side of her brain, wrecking her parietal and temporal lobes and Broca’s area—parts of the brain that are involved in the emotions, the senses, memory, and speech. My mother now appears to be living in an eternal present. She can say only two words, “water” and “time.” She is present in the room—she looks me in the eye—but is capable of only fleeting recognition; she knows only that I am someone she should recognize. She grasps the world, but lightly.

    As I spent time with my mother, I found that my intuitions were shifting to Dennett’s side of the field. It seems natural to say that she “sort of” thinks, knows, cares, remembers, and understands, and that she is “sort of” conscious. It seems obvious that there is no “light switch” for consciousness: she is present and absent in different ways, depending on which of her subsystems are functioning. I still can’t quite picture how neurons create consciousness. But, perhaps because I can take a stance toward my mother that I can’t take toward myself, my belief in the “hard problem” has dissolved. On an almost visceral level, I find it easier to accept the reality of the material mind. I have moved from agnosticism to calm conviction.

    I see Chalmers’ position as not merely idealistic, but gnostic. The author of the article seems kind of enamored of Dennett, so he may not be presenting Chalmers’ arguments fairly.

    My curiosity about philosophy is not what it was 30 years ago so I don’t assume to know the debate very well. Also – you may be interested to know I’m not an atheist. Cheers.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
  174. ia says:
    @Inquiring Mind

    As far as I know Weinstein didn’t drug anyone. It was a quid pro quo thing with privileged women having regrets.

    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
    • Replies: @notanon
  175. athEIst says:
    @Inquiring Mind

    Except Wegener was right. He didn’t have a mechanism(modern plate tectonics is a little vague on this too) and didn’t know about subduction of continental crust, but the continents do float and drift.

  176. notanon says:
    @ia

    there was a clause in his contract specifically stating that if he was indicted for rape they could fire him straight away without any legal consequence.

    • Replies: @ia
  177. Eastfag says:
    @Hmmm

    A significant number of US citizens don’t have consciousness, as illustrated by their response to the NPC meme. This is not a function of education, culture, or even IQ. A NPC is not defined by its power level or skill, it simply lacks consciousness.

    This came as a surprise to me, honestly. I was under the impression that _everyone_ had this soul/inner voice/conscience/consciousness. But people don’t. A very large number of people really are automatons.

    The “homunculus” is apparently a real thing. What we now interpret as “internal monologue” could be very easily interpreted by an Ancient as “voice of a god” or by a Christian as “conscience.” Also, tellingly, it is usually only the Heroes or other extraordinary people that have this trait, whether it be Achilles or Homer. Homer himself would have interpreted his internal monologue creating the Iliad as the voice of a god/goddess simply narrating it to him.

    I’m a sworn materialist, but even I’m not now sure if Homer’s interpretation is more or less accurate than our more “enlightened” one.

  178. Eastfag says:
    @Sergeant Prepper

    Greek literature may have lacked the kind of omnipotent narrators we know from 19th century novels, who always know exactly what is going on in the minds of every single character.

    19th century authors made the error of assuming that all people had internal monologues and that their readers were perfectly comfortable with understanding this point of view.

    (Hell, Tolstoy’s narrators even tell us what bulls feel, what dogs think, what horses imagine, what trees experience.)

    Tolstoy takes that error to its logical extreme. Not only do trees or horses not experience or imagine anything, many humans also do not! A dog’s life is inseparable from its existence as a physical creature. A man’s life has “experience” that is related to, but distinct from, his physical existence.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
  179. ia says:
    @notanon

    You mean if indicted he has no legal problems with his company? Sure, but he’s protecting himself from false accusations. Maybe this is standard in tinsel town. I don’t know.

  180. Old Jew says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    When I was learning “Speed Reading” their theory was.
    We are reading so slow (under 200 -300 words per minute) because we are voicing “sotto-voce”
    every word in our head. The key to “Speed Reading” was that the meaning of each printed “group of words” shall jump into your head, without the intermediary of voicing/pronouncing each word.

    Voicing could be detected by sensors observing small almost imperceptible movements of our vocal chords.

    I never connected/contrasted this practical goal with Jaynes theory of the bicameral mind.

    As far as Speed Reading results, I got to read a little bit faster, but never achieved the promise of reading five to ten times faster.

    sf

  181. Ian M. says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    I regard Chalmers’s position to be incorrect, but I think it far superior to Dennett’s (or at least, what I take to be Dennett’s position). Chalmers’s solution accepts consciousness as something real. In contrast, any theory that attempts to eliminate consciousness is a non-starter. (By the way, what in particular about Chalmers’s philosophy is it that you regard as gnostic?)

    From the part of the article you quoted:

    Dennett sighed and, leaning against the wall, weighed his words. “I don’t see why it isn’t an embarrassment to your view,” he said, “that you can’t name a kind of experiment that would get at ‘first-personal data,’ or ‘experiences.’ That’s all I ask—give me a single example of a scientifically respectable experiment!”

    It would appear that Dennett is begging the question in favor of a scientistic view of the world in the crudest manner possible: he is assuming that all of reality must be subject to scientific experiment, but this is precisely what anti-materialists would deny.

    The modern conception of matter is an artifact of Descartes’s (and Bacon’s) philosophy, in which the distinction between the material and immaterial was drawn at the objective/subjective interface. Prior to this, the interface between the material and immaterial was drawn elsewhere (and I would say, more accurately) and the conception of matter was broader, and could include subjective and qualitative aspects as well as objective, quantitative aspects.

    As a result of the new conception of matter, matter became re-defined as only that which could be quantified from a third-person point of view, and all qualitative first-person aspects, such as how the color red appears to us, how a pain in my arm feels, became relegated to the mind. Everything material became redefined in terms of colorless, odorless particles – a mechanistic view of nature. This was fine as far as science is concerned: this is exactly what science deals with – the quantitative aspect of the material world.

    But, it then becomes clear why it is fruitless to try to explain consciousness wholly in scientific terms: if you have already stipulated that mind is everything that is not susceptible to measurement and prediction (i.e., science), then of course you will never be able to explain the mind scientifically.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
  182. Ian M. says:
    @Eastfag

    Horses certainly do experience and imagine things.

  183. @Ian M.

    (By the way, what in particular about Chalmers’s philosophy is it that you regard as gnostic?)

    In the notion of a meta-consciousness tapped into by individuals, which is just appalling in its lack of scientific and philosophical rigor.

    Again, I am not familiar with the academic stuff so Chalmers’s position may be grossly misstated in that article.

    Consciousness is certainly real, but there is a spectrum of consciousness–humans are “more” conscious than dogs who are more conscious than chickens–and it disappears when the wetware degrades.

    Note that there are incredible selection pressures on dogs that make them symbiotic to humans. Dogs are becoming almost telepathic in their empathy with their human masters. In contrast, the selection pressure on chickens is for rapidly maturing protein sources and little else.

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