> Fisherman, I've been doing some cursory research on Jaynes and
> his bicameral mind theory. Controversial indeed.
> He postulates that the Greeks of the Iliad had no conscious
> mind, no introspection. I'm not clear on whether he means the
> fictional (or perhaps real, we may never know) characters or
> people generally of that time. If it's the latter then this is
> truly a fantastic notion. Certainly the principle characters of
> Greek mythology were, to a degree, pawns of the gods who carved
> out paths for them, but also they were set tasks by the gods
> which says to me that there must have been a strong element of
> freewill rather than destiny involved in the life of our
> heroes. Coming right down to earth, whenever a "real" person is
> set a task, either from an inner prompting or by a third party,
> introspection is one of the first and main traits called upon.
> Can I do this? What if I succeed? What if I fail? "Inner
> strength, where are you - AH! There you are!" The Ancient
> Greeks with their high minded philosophies must have asked
> these questions of themselves.
> Does Jaynes say that the bicameral mind is no longer present
> within modern humans, and that this is due to changes in
> environment? If true, this seems like a cataclysmic change in
> human consciousness, violent, quick, and profound. Is this
> really possible? Are we really to believe that introspection,
> with all its subtleties and refinements, is only a recent
> development in the evolution of human consciousness I'm not
> sure about all this.
> My interpretation of the Greek myths is that the gods
> represented both forces of nature and aspects of human
> consciousness. So when a hero hears a particular god speak to
> them it is really an aspect of their higher, inner spiritual
> self communicating with the human mind.
Unfortunately, Jaynes' ideas are based on some assumptions of the superiority of 'modernity' endemic among contemporary 'scientists' of all sorts. Namely that our modern modes of 'thinking' are somehow 'clearer' and 'better' than any other cultures of the past, and that our knowledge of the world -- and ourselves -- is more comprehensive than any cultures of the past. In other words, that 'modern' man is the pinnacle of history. This is what J. A. West frequently sneers about as 'The Church of Progress'.
You own speculation is close to what seems most correct to me, as far as we can undertsand this in our time and culture. What if the 'ego' consciousness of people in the past was not so rigid and closed off from the other parts of their 'minds'? Or dare we say 'soul' these days? They might have been able to perceive the 'unconscious' attitudes and drives within themselves and when learning how much they had in common with the same attributes of others they might have postulated 'universal' beings to explain those forces -- 'the gods'!
And btw, the word 'ego' is simply Latin for I and both Freud and Jung simply wrote their native German 'Ich' while English translations have felt the need to use the high-flown Latinized word in order to sound 'scientific'. Jung also usually used the German word for 'soul' (Seele) where the English translations use the pseudo-sophisticate 'psyche' -- again in order to sound 'scientific'. Funny how the original author didn't seem to need that high-flown technical terminology. But Jung has now been pretty successfully ghettoized into the 'New Age' movement and all those 'advanced' scientists don't have to try to figure out what he was saying anymore.
Like ancient Rome, we today are once more importing every form of exotic superstition in the hope of finding the right remedy for our sickness.
-- C. G. Jung
Richard Wilhelm: In Memoriam (1930), CW 15: pg. 60