What It Feels Like To Hear Voices: Fond Memories of Julian Jaynes

Stevan Harnad
Arxiv ID: 808.3563Last updated: 9/29/2009
Julian Jaynes's profound humanitarian convictions not only prevented him from going to war, but would have prevented him from ever kicking a dog. Yet according to his theory, not only are language-less dogs unconscious, but so too were the speaking/hearing Greeks in the Bicameral Era, when they heard gods' voices telling them what to do rather than thinking for themselves. I argue that to be conscious is to be able to feel, and that all mammals (and probably lower vertebrates and invertebrates too) feel, hence are conscious. Julian Jaynes's brilliant analysis of our concepts of consciousness nevertheless keeps inspiring ever more inquiry and insights into the age-old mind/body problem and its relation to cognition and language.

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