The history of human emotions, from the Paleolithic to the present.

Except that in places like Australia the toolkit also didn’t change for tens of thousands of years. In the most extreme cases the toolkit actually regressed to pre-Sapiens levels, something never seen amongst Neanderthals.

I’ve heard this argument about both Neanderthals and Erestcus. But it doesn’t hold water once you realise that it is equally true of semi-isolated Sapiens populations. The reason why sapiens toolkits were so plastic seems to have been entirely attributable to the lack of isolation.

Ah, the “Hey, that’s cool what you did there!” hypothesis.

And whenever sapiens and neanderthal populations came into contact, the neanderthals readily adopted the tools the sapiens were using.

Absolutely top-notch answers so far!

Some comments:

You’re right, of course, that “far more and far earlier texts than he [Jaynes] had access to in 1976” have been uncovered in the meanwhile, and of course massive progress has been made in pretty much every relevant field: Archeology, psychology, neurology, etc., etc., possibly making Jaynes obsolete once and for all. Interestingly, however, Jaynes’ contemporary followers have apparently put together a volume of essays trying to reconcile Jaynes’ theories with the latest developments in the relevant fields. I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, but it’s on my reading list.

I had not heard of Snell’s book, for some reason, but it, too, is now on my reading list. Thanks for the tip!

As a sidenote, I’ll add that the book that got me thinking about all this in the first place was E. R. Dodds’ The Greeks and the Irrational.

According to Prof. Dodds, the concept of a “personality,” equipped with a will and capable of introspection and reminiscence, simply did not exist to the Homeric Greeks (and presumably not at any point in history before them, either).

Granted, the book came out way back in 1951, so other scholars might well have proven Prof. Dodds wrong by now.

I agree wholeheartedly on points 2 and 3, but not – at least not entirely – on point 1.

Jaynes writes that Bronze age men lacked subjective consciousness because he believes that Bronze age men lacked subjective consciousness.

It’s not simply an “exaggerated way of phrasing it” – it is, very precisely, what Jaynes actually believed.

According to Jaynes, instead of weighing the pros and cons of different options against each others and consciously making subjective decisions, bicameral men blindly, immediately and unquestioningly followed what they believed were “the voices of the gods.”

These commanding “voices” were, however, in fact nothing but aural hallucinations originating in Wernicke’s area of the brain, triggered through overwhelming stress whenever the situation called for a decision to be made.

If this sounds more like mental illness than anything else, well – Jaynes himself makes a direct connection to schizophrenia. So, yes: According to Jaynes, what he terms “bicameral men” – the warriors of the Iliad, and the builders of the pyramids – were one and all what we today would term schizophrenics.

Loopy? Yes, no, perhaps – in any case, it’s what Jaynes claimed was the truth.