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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.

9 of 9 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.

5 of 5 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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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!

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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Wonderful book terrible narration.

Julian Jaynes' thesis about bicamerality is wonderful. This is a very exciting book. But the narrator is wrong for this book. He tries too hard and the pace of the narrative, the intonations, and the General delivery are awkward and don't sit easy on the ear. It is such a pity too. Jaynes wrote one of the best intellectual books of the twentieth century and this delivery looses a good deal of the enjoyability of his riveting discourse.
I generally abstain from giving negative reviews but this book is so important and good that I feel I owe it to the author and the narrator. Ideally the actor Brian Cox would have done this narration justice.

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Fascinating combination of historical, psychological, and philosophical scholarship.

Jaynes’ book is now some decades old. But his theses are as fresh and astonishing today as they were in the 1970s when I recall first hearing about this work.

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mindblowing!!!!

you are forewarned to put this book down if u don't want ur mind blow. this is an amazing book and I can't believe this whole theory came from one author. I would assume anything this of this magnitude would take decades to fully blossom and be this coherent.

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Westworld brought me here!

Any additional comments?

This book was highly referenced in the first season of HBO’s Westworld, so, naturally, I had to read it given the fact that that show is probably one of the greatest shows on television of all time...until they jump the shark...please don’t Jump the Shark!
I can’t say I agree with all the concepts presented within this book but I found the book to be quite informative regarding the possible source of that non-corporeal voice-in-our-heads that the ancients called “god.”