OK, god damn it. Can someone help me out here?
[Update. OK, so folks now claim that a kind of 'protoconsciousness,' a sense of self, a protolanguage, is found in apes and whales? Not just communication-by-direct-reference, not just externally-aided proprioception, but abstract self-consciousness? That's the objection? Well, I guess I have to keep reading then.]
Julian Jaynes's 'bicameral mind' theory, in weak form, boils down in part to '"consciousness" properly understood is linguistic in nature, did not exist prior to the monotheistic era, and .' Jaynes begins from a literal, though (it is argued) too-selective, reading of ancient writings from several cultures, and interprets 'the gods' in their ancient forms as auditory hallucinations which now persist only in diminished, no longer socially sanctioned form: e.g. in schizophrenics, though recent studies show that far more people experience such hallucinations than was previously thought. (I've certainly hallucinated my mother's voice a few times since she died.)
If Jaynes's theory is 'self-evidently crazy' as all respectable types insist, why is it so? Is there a strong historical argument against his chronological claims and his reading of ancient myths? All I've found online (without access to academic journals, in which his book seems to have been largely dismissed anyhow) is 'Jaynes reads ancient poetry too selectively' and 'this is implausible.' I'm interested in one objection (noted here) about the reliability and incompleteness of ancient accounts of religious idolatry, but that's just one objection to one part of his (wide-ranging) theory. Meanwhile, I'm ambivalent about Jaynes's hand-wavy claim that seemingly 'post-bicameral' renderings of human activity, identity, and mentation in ancient writing are in fact recent interpolations or conceptual retrofitting via translation. (cf. The entire history of the damn Bible for every New Atheist's favourite version of this phenomenon.)
What I haven't found is a brain-scientific argument that Jaynes's 'bicameral' model is impossible. If 'consciousness' evolved at all then we should be able to cook up a provisional chronology of that evolution - so if Jaynes is not only 'out in left field' but provably wrong about the evolution of the human mind, can someone point me toward a more reliable model of the history of consciousness, supported by a stronger body of evidence drawn from an equally wide range of sources? If Jaynes's model of cognitive evolution is flawed, if he's too foggy on the process by which the bicameral mind supposedly was 'selected out,' then where can I find a similarly rigorously-materialist explanation for the development of consciousness? Would 500 years be enough for social selection pressures to produce a new shared 'mindset'? 300 years? Is my entire brain backwards on this one?
Believe me, I'm not invested in Jaynes's theory, except that it's eerily gorgeous and people's insistence on its obvious craziness sparks self-righteously contrarian feelings in me.
[And yes, this theory reminds me of Harold Bloom's goofy 'Shakespeare invented the modern personality' talk. Only the weak form of Bloom's theory - which is really a (psychedelic!) history of representation, not 'brains' as such - seems relatively unobjectionable. Hell, on a dark foggy night I can see the ghost-image of Bloom's theory inside Auerbach's Mimesis...]
That is all. Help?