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Publisher's Summary

At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes' still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only 3,000 years ago and is still developing. The implications of this revolutionary scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion - and indeed our future.

©1976, 1990 Julian Jaynes (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

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  • Michael
  • Racine, WI, United States
  • 10-08-15

An Archaelogical Expedition of Our Minds

Any additional comments?

I first read this book a couple of decades ago and was totally enthralled with Julian Jaynes' thesis. Since then, I've been an avid student in the Study of Consciousness and watched with great interest as it evolved using the newest imaging tools and techniques to study the brain.

Yet it's apparent that Neuroscience is still in its infancy in regard to what causes conscious self-awareness to manifest in our 3 pound mass of neurons we call the brain. First and foremost, this book is no mere academic treatise. Instead, it is an incredibly literate and poetic narrative that deftly weaves evolutionary psychology, archaeology, history, philosophy and religion into an argument that is both radical and shocking in its implications. Even in the nearly forty years since it was first published, the arguments Jaynes submits in this well-researched book are controversial and rejected by many.
Nevertheless, Jaynes' ideas also have a lot of supporters in the field and the arguments on both sides continue.

While current Neuroscientists, however, are doing fascinating and provocative work in their attempts to learn about who we are and why we do the things we do, the important work that Jaynes pioneered can't be ignored or understated. Our homonid line has been in existence for six to seven million years, while our species Homo Sapiens has been on this planet for around 200,000 years. Yet--as Jaynes argues--modern conscious thought has only been part of our species for about 2500 years; a tiny fraction of the time our species has been in existence. This book elaborately and eloquently tries to explain why.

No book on the important subject of Consciousness has for me been so intriguing, so captivating, and so enjoyable to read as this one. The tragedy is that Julian Jaynes, who died in 1997, had so much more to say on the subject of his life's work. Fortunately, others have come forward to preserve his writings and ideas, and to hopefully inspire others to continue his important work. I suggest anyone who reads this and is interested in what has come of Jaynes ideas since his death Google the Julian Jaynes Society.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great concept!

What made the experience of listening to The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind the most enjoyable?

Hearing "new" ideas about the origin of consciousness, and how the past can help explain current psychological problems.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Solid delivery

What does James Patrick Cronin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The voice of a god. I must go and make a shrine to him.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

You've never been conscious of your consciousness like this before.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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One of my all time favorite books.

I have read the book version and now have listened to the audible version. I am absolutely fascinated buy this theory.
Julian Jaynes is an eloquent writer and well versed in history and anthropology psychology to name just a few subjects.

Also, the narrator was easy to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Mind = Blown

Whether you find the hypothesis believable or not, it certainly is fascinating, and the author and narrator do an excellent job of presenting it. Highly recommend to anyone who enjoys metacognition.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Awesome

Got to know this book from the review of the HBO TV series Westworld.


- ideas, mind-changing, funny, they are about life, learning, civilization, everything;
- the text itself is so beautiful and elegant;
- perfect narrator;

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Eye opening.

Interesting way of understanding the modern self and historical origins of consciousness. Well worth the time.

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the word Insight is ironically inadequate

I read this book in 2001 it was quite big but someone I respected and wanted to compete with challenge me to read it. I was coming out of my so-called Dark Night of the Soul and I guess I was just absolutely in the perfect mental condition to have the time and the wherewithal as a past Scholastic 2 be able to do so and I found it fascinating. When I recently discovered that it was available as an audible book and I'm driving a lot back and forth to a contract position I couldn't resist listening to the whole thing over again and it has been even more stirring an insightful. 2007 I had a conversation with god. It was very brief, and one of my friends told me that when I describe what happens he said it sounds like you're God is an Italian from New Jersey.
2009 I received what I felt and still do was a direct transmission as I was getting out of the car to attend an event for a friend the sound and the voice said to me would you like to know what your purpose on earth is. when he told me it was so simple and yet so profound that I sent to him Lord that sounds just like the Book of Revelation and he said no Mark that's why the Book of Revelation sounds like that. In addition many so-called self-help programs, particularly influential and like for instance the 12-step programs result in mental emotional and overall cognitive behavioral changes that are extremely of the interaction between the bicameral mind and the post bicameral upright so-called homosapiens.
I'm really glad I minded friends. This book is not for everyone. But then again consider it a challenge just like it was for me. You might learn something.

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Amazing in every respect!

This book is an amazing journey down the path human brain evolution has followed, and the evolution of the mind the brain creates. (a statement of metaphor in celebration of Jaynes ideas)
Much of this book, all though well supported, is wildly speculative, yet with each speculative portion Jaynes provided rational support, and logical argument. This book has helped change the way I view ancient texts, and the human minds that created them. Jaynes ideas bring into view the stark changes in language/literature over the centuries, and demonstrates no small amount of change in the human mind in the process. For me, despite being focused on somewhat dry psycho-social topics only a small part of the content was unremarkable, and the reader managed to keep my attention throughout most of it.

As with so many other good books, I am left with a great many more questions, ideas, and topics to explore. This book was a fascinating ride, to be sure!

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  • Thomas
  • INDIANAPOLIS, IN, United States
  • 09-01-17

A real revelation

Would you consider the audio edition of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind to be better than the print version?

I would pair this book with Moses & Monotheism by Sigmund Freud or even with some of the better prose work by Karl Marx--while the major thesis MAY be overstated or erroneous certain insights that would have be been almost impossible to access by any other avenue-- about what being a human is all about that are starlingly self-evident or otherwise fairly obvious or are not at all obvious but probably true--get laid out here.

The book at the level of prose is smooth as butter, and the narrator does a great job reading it.

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Very interesting!

Consciousness is so fascinating! I really enjoyed this book! Very insightful! I would highly recommend it!