View Full Version : Bicameralism

10-23-2013, 12:57 PM

Bicameralism (the philosophy of "two-chamberedness")

Psychologist Julian Jaynes built a case for this hypothesis that human brains existed in a bicameral state until as recently as 3000 years ago by citing evidence from many diverse sources including historical literature. Jaynes asserted that, until roughly the times written about in Homer's Iliad, humans did not generally have the self-awareness characteristic of consciousness as most people experience it today. Rather, the bicameral individual was guided by mental commands believed to be issued by external "gods" — commands which were recorded in ancient myths, legends and historical accounts. This is exemplified not only in the commands given to characters in ancient epics but also the very muses of Greek mythology which "sang" the poems: the ancients literally heard muses as the direct source of their music and poetry. In ancient times, Jaynes noted, gods were generally much more numerous and much more anthropomorphic than in modern times, and speculates that this was because each bicameral person had their own "god" who reflected their own desires and experiences.

In other words we have, since ancient times, incorporated these gods into our mind, into the formation of our ego.

What we call our Ego was once a God... in service of our daily mundane life!

I find this to be a very interesting theory...


10-23-2013, 02:44 PM
My brain might still be bicameral then... :)

Psychology has a bad habit of explaining everything in terms of rational physiology.

10-23-2013, 04:21 PM
I don't care about psychology, I just like the idea that we have taken our inner god/voice and made it into a caged ego. Instead of using this magic voice when we need it, we have made it work for us all the time in our daily life. Or as McKenna put it: "managing our portfolio".


10-23-2013, 04:46 PM
I wonder then if people with certain mental health issues have this bicameralism, but only that they don't recognize the internal origin of their thoughts.. This article seems to imply all the ancients were mad :p

10-23-2013, 08:25 PM
No, I think the view is that the ancients carried their demon/spirit/god (whatever) with them as a guide. Like Pan had his Tink... but nowadays it is as if Pan (to keep the allegory) thinks that Tink is his ego, when in fact he has just caged and abused his own spirit guide. And by doing that loosing the power this god has over things like telepathy, intuition etc.


10-23-2013, 11:49 PM
Sounds very much like the Daemons in Philip Pulman's "His Dark Materials" Trilogy. Where everyone has an animal external counterpart that
changes often while they are children, but becomes fixed as they reach adulthood.


10-24-2013, 07:06 AM
I read the whole thing, twice; once way back when it was published and I was young and relatively inexperienced and again a few years ago. I do think that the nature of consciousness has changed tremendously in the past between 3000-6000 years ago and continued to changing to this day. However, the way he choose to express it just doesn't make it for me. I might say something like "We appear to have lost, at least within a tribe, the ability to "you know what I mean" and really did. Complexity of life and number of people lived amongst increased rapidly. I haven't come to a satisfactory to me explanation yet.

10-24-2013, 02:06 PM
Scientifically you could call this spirit guide the Amygdalae ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala
); without them we would probably not be
discussing this.

The Amygdalae are lima bean-sized, almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep and medially
within the temporal lobes of the brain in complex vertebrates, including humans. Shown in research
to perform a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions.

The Amygdalae are responsible for:

Emotional learning ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Emotional_learning)
Memory modulation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Memory_modulation)
Sexual orientation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Sexual_orientation)
Social interaction ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Social_interaction)
Aggression ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Aggression)
Fear ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Fear)
Alcoholism and binge drinking ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Alcoholism_and_binge_drinking)
Decision-making ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Decision-making)
Anxiety ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Anxiety)

Of course the Amygdala is only one part of a larger system. There is also the Neocortex (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neocortex), which is
responsible for functions such as:

Sensory perception (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense)
Motor commands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_cortex)
Spatial reasoning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spatial_visualization_ability)
Conscious thought (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness)
Language (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language)

The list goes on and on...the point is that all the parts are a whole unto themselves, but still only
a part in the concept of a larger whole. We can extrapolate this to ourselves as a whole, but still
only a part in the larger aspects of what is.

Arthur Koestler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Koestler), author of “The Ghost in the Machine” coined the term Holon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holon_(philosophy)) to represent
“wholes” that are just parts of a larger whole.

The Holon can be applied from the micro to the macro; as above so below.

There is a device called the "God Helmet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_helmet)", which refers to an experimental apparatus originally
called the "Koren helmet" after its inventor Stanley Koren. It was developed to study creativity and
the effects of subtle stimulation of the temporal lobes. The apparatus, placed on the head of an
experimental subject, generates very weak fluctuating magnetic fields. These fields are
approximately as strong as those generated by a land line telephone handset or an ordinary hair
dryer, but far weaker than that of an ordinary refrigerator magnet.

The God Helmet was not specifically designed to elicit visions of God, but to test hypotheses
about brain function.

The first of these is the Vectorial Hemisphericity Hypothesis, which proposes that the human
sense of self has two components, one on each side of the brain, that ordinarily work together
but in which the left hemisphere is usually dominant. The theory is that the two hemispheres
make different contributions to a single sense of self, but under certain conditions can appear
as two separate 'selves'

The second experimental hypothesis was that when communication between the left and right
senses of self is disturbed, as they report it is while wearing the God Helmet, the usually-
subordinate 'self' in the right hemisphere intrudes into the awareness of the left-hemispheric
dominant self, causing what is refered to as "interhemispheric intrusions".

The third hypothesis was that "visitor experiences" could be explained by such
"interhemispheric intrusions" caused by a disruption in "vectorial hemisphericity" Theories
propose that many paranormal experiences, feelings of having lived past lives, felt presences
of non-physical beings, ghosts, muses, and other "spiritual beings", are examples of
interhemispheric intrusions.

We are both a whole and a part of a larger whole simultaneously.

All is one.