elizabeth.farquhar, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by elizabeth.farquhar)
A fascinating book on the meaning of awareness and cognition, using examples from modern-day studies done on people with schizophrenia or epilepsy to illustrate the theory that not so very long ago, our left hands TRULY did not know what our right hands were doing - or rather, our left brains and right brains were connected in a different way, causing people to see visions of gods and angels and build civilizations and religions around them. If you're looking for a book that will get you thinking about the act of thinking itself, I recommend this one.
talley, September 3, 2007 (view all comments by talley)
Julian Jaynes thesis and arguments in support of it are very compelling. This is the most mind-opening book I have ever read. Is it possible to have society without consciousness? Yes, and Jaynes shows that this was the norm in people's distant past. His basic question is, Where did consciousness come from? And why? He answers this clearly and objectively. It's impossible to prove his thesis, because everything happened so long ago, leaving no fossil record, only the records in early writing and early drawn pictures. But I was convinced.
This is not an easy read, not for summer reading on the beach, but it is worth the effort. I've read it three times, partly to remind myself of the arguments and partly because it is so well written.
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At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes's still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only three thousand 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.
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