Julian Jaynes Quotes
“O, what a world of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind! What ineffable essences, these touchless rememberings and unshowable reveries! And the privacy of it all! A secret theater of speechless monologue and prevenient counsel, an invisible mansion of all moods, musings, and mysteries, an infinite resort of disappointments and discoveries. A whole kingdom where each of us reigns reclusively alone, questioning what we will, commanding what we can. A hidden hermitage where we may study out the troubled book of what we have done and yet may do. An introcosm that is more myself than anything I can find in a mirror. This consciousness that is myself of selves, that is everything, and yet is nothing at all - what is it?
And where did it come from?
“Consciousness is a much smaller part of our mental life than we are conscious of, because we cannot be conscious of what we are not conscious of. How simple that is to say; how difficult to appreciate! It is like asking a flashlight in a dark room to search around for something that does not have any light shining upon it. The flashlight, since there is light in whatever direction it turns, would have to conclude that there is light everywhere. And so consciousness can seem to pervade all mentality when actually it does not.”
“And as you read, you are not conscious of the letters or even of the words or even of the syntax or the sentences and punctuation, but only of their meaning. As you listen to an address, phonemes disappear into words and words into sentences and sentences disappear into what they are trying to say, into meaning. To be conscious of the elements of speech is to destroy the intention of the speech.”
“Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical world…concrete metaphors increase enormously our powers of perception of the world about us and our understanding of it, and literally create new objects.”
“Alfred Russel Wallace, the codiscoverer of the theory of natural selection. Following their twin announcements of the theory in 1858, both Darwin and Wallace struggled like Laocoöns with the serpentine problem of human evolution and its encoiling difficulty of consciousness. But where Darwin clouded the problem with his own naivete, seeing only continuity in evolution, Wallace could not do so.”
“Osiris, to go directly to the important part of this, was not a "dying god," not "life caught in the spell of death," or "a dead god," as modern interpreters have said. He was the hallucinated voice of a dead king whose admonitions could still carry weight. And since he could still be heard, there is no paradox in the fact that the body from which the voice once came should be mummified, with all the equipment of the tomb providing life's necessities: food, drink, slaves, women, the lot. There was no mysterious power that emanated from him; simply his remembered voice which appeared in hallucination to those who had known him and which could admonish or suggest even as it has before he stopped moving and breathing. And that various natural phenomena such as the whispering of waves could act as the cue for such hallucinations accounts for the belief that Osiris, or the king whose body has ceased to move and is in his mummy cloths, continues to control the flooding of the Nile. Further, the relationship between Horus and Osiris, 'embodied' in each new king and his dead father forever, can only be understood as the assimilation of an hallucinated advising voice into the king's own voice, which then would be repeated with the next generation.”
“We sometimes think, and even like to think, that the two greatest exertions that have influenced mankind, religion and science, have always been historical enemies, intriguing us in opposite directions. But this effort at special identity is loudly false. It is not religion but the church and science that were hostile to each other. And it was rivalry, not contravention. Both were religious. They were two giants fuming at each other over the same ground. Both proclaimed to be the only way to divine revelation.”
- Date of birth: February 27, 1920
- Died: November 21, 1997
- Born: in West Newton, Massachusetts, The United States.
- Description: Julian Jaynes was an American psychologist, best known for his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976), in which he argued that ancient peoples were not conscious.
Jaynes defines "consciousness" more narrowly than some philosophers. Jaynes' definition of consciousness is synonymous with what philosophers now call "meta-consciousness" or "meta-awareness" i.e. awareness of awareness, thoughts about thinking, desires about desires, beliefs about beliefs. This form of reflection is also distinct from the kinds of "deliberations" seen in other higher animals such as crows insofar as Jaynesian consciousness is dependent on linguistic cognition.