The Ancient World

In his book, The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes posits the idea that the ancients inhabited a radically different perceptual world than we do today.

Jaynes characterizes a world where god(s) where not just abstract concepts, but a perceptually real part of the landscape that spoke to and engaged with the ancients. He describes the muses as not just metaphors, but as something real to the ancients that people actually listened to.

Jaynes is making an argument on the origins of consciousness, so his focus is not necessarily on this perceptual world that the ancients inhabited. This world, however, this ancient hallucination, however, is what I’d like to focus on.

He describes it as something akin to the modern experience of schizophrenia. In such a world, hallucination is simply part of the landscape.

Now, I’ve never met another schizophrenic who was also currently hallucinating, but I’d imagine if I did, we wouldn’t share the same perceptual landscape, but if we did, I can’t help but imagine the new forms of insanity that would be possible.

Its certainly conceivable that if 2 or more people inhabited the same hallucinatory world something like magic would be possible. There are psychosomatic aspects to hallucination, a strong enough visual element to a hallucination could feel perceptually like a physical impact.

Now, the modern word religion comes from the ancient latin religare, which translates “to bind.” Perhaps this means to bind to a belief system, or bind to a perceptual world.

And with that:




208 thoughts on “The Ancient World”

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