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This review is from: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Paperback)
I read this book about 20 years ago and consider it the most influential book I have ever read.
I found it very challenging to get through. For example, I remember spending an entire commute (about an hour) considering the thoughts presented on one page. I initially rejected Jaynes' contention on that page. It took me an hour of consideration to conclude that he was entirely correct.
Considering the amount of thought required though, this book is really a page turner of a sort.
Jaynes' main thesis, that consciousness evolved due to changes in civilization that caused the brain to evolve, around 2 thousand years ago, is fascinating, and, in my opinion, well supported by the evidence he presents. However, I have not concluded that it is entirely true.
Nevertheless, this book is a must read for intelligent, curious people regardless of whether his theory is eventually proven true.
Specifically, I have received the following benefits from reading this book:
I understand why some activities are much easier to learn by visual observation and why oral instruction is often detrimental in learning to perform physical activities. This helped me teach my children how to ride their bicycles.
I understand the significance of Christ in western culture, and why our calendar is divided into pre and post christ eras.
I understand my feelings concerning the loss of my parents.
Less specifically, I understand many things about people.
I owe Jaynes credit for teaching me these things.