The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Narrated by: James Patrick Cronin
Length: 16 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (332 ratings)

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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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An Archaelogical Expedition of Our Minds

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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.

12 people found this 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.

6 people found this helpful

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Mind blowing

This book shook me. I had never heard of or imagined a theory like this. Jaynes so rock-solidly describes his theory that I cannot find fault with it and am surprised it is not more well accepted. It speaks to the origin of consciousness, religion, and government. A real game changer. The most easily comprehended scientific book I have ever read as well

2 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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Riveting theories dance with fringe envisionings

A book with such far out and wide standing thoughts needs and apt, sharp and pacing narrator - James Cronin's performance with expressive tones and flowing tempos brings this brilliant piece to life as the listener has space to contemplate alongside, but not get lost in the elaborate use of words and ever moving concepts. A provoking listen, and for me has been the most stimulating and inspiring book I have come across in nearly a decade. There's little doubt that my own work will be enlightened by this text. Exceptionally done by both author and narrator.

Enjoy your experience and be prepared for a paradigm shift. Your understanding of the origin of mind, self identity, societies and how they have formed may be up for a profound change, hopefully along with a projection of your own on how they all continue to develop and evolve today.

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Blew (both chambers of) my mind

This book blew (both chambers of) my mind - it was a fascinating view into consciousness

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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.

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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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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;

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life changing.

This book is more enlightening everytime I listen to it. I just finished my fourth listen.