Glostik91 wrote:I never quite understood Jaynes' idea of bicameralism considering there are people alive, walking around, seemingly just as conscious as you and I who only have half a brain. There is a surgery called hemispherectomy where they go in and literally remove the entire left or right half of the brain in order to cure devastating seizures in some people. How could it be said that consciousness is a lateralized function of the brain when there are perfectly normal conscious people walking around with literally only half a brain?
On a bit of tangent, I wouldn't say people with half a brain are "perfectly normal" but tests would likely demonstrate severe limitations in their cognitive abilities. But that's beside the point of Jaynes theory.
My interpretation of the theory is that Jaynes is not talking about brain size or half-brains but about brain structure as it relates to thought. He references the idea of parts of the brain because in his time he had the evidence that neurobiology said that speech is located in certain lobes in one brain hemisphere; but that point seems rather incidental, even though neurobiologists now believe speech functions are scattered in both hemispheres.
More importantly, Jaynes theorized that humans, before having the ability to create a narrative of self-identity, experienced their own thoughts as verbal hallucinations, or thought-commands from others who might have been ancestors or gods. There are more details but the verbalization of thoughts by the brain lobes involved in speech (Wernicke’s area or Broca’s area, for example) created these hallucinations and were not experienced as particularly distressful. These hallucinations gave people orders on how to organize society and, as you said, in general solve problems. His theory further states that it is this type of function can eventually “break down and cross the barriers between the lobes” and the voices inside the mind become realized as one’s own voices.
This might seem bizarre but is not too far fetched as nearly everyone can relate to the experience of having a conversation in their own mind with the voice of another person.
An example in 2017 is the tribe of the Toraja on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. In the present day, these people believe their dead relatives are not dead but sleeping. They believe it literally and live with the desiccated corpses in their homes for years and decades. This can not be dismissed as a group of naive people being taken in by a cult leader because, particularly in ancient times, humans world-wide practice similar religious rites. Jayne’s theory would predict that these tribespeople are probably “bi-cameral”. They have intact brains but have not developed a narrative of self-identity in their minds, at least not fully. I don’t know if an experiment on these people would be ethical, but it is a theory that takes their odd behavior seriously.
If this is a reasonably accurate explanation, then these tribespeople would likely be quite poor at logic. They would not be capable of the reasoning functions available with the use of logic, even though many of their other brain functions would be present. Perhaps their children, raised by outsiders, could develop a breakdown of the bicameral mind. But for the moment, the adult tribespeople can probably not escape their own delusions through the use of logic.
If I may extrapolate further, logical reasoning with a fully developed narrative of self-identity would be needed for genius, and every single one of the great geniuses of the past demonstrates a clear sense of an “I” in their dialogue and writings. We don’t really have a record of a genius speaking about God instructing them about Mind or Tao as if that man as a prophet were possessed by the voice of God. The recorded evidence is quite different and these types of prophets that said they were given commands by God do not seem to have developed genius.