Julian Jaynes was a psychologist who, in the 1970s, argued that primitive man was not conscious/self-aware. By consciousness, from what I can gather, he meant "self-aware". He uses this hypothesis to explain where human beings first got the notion of "God" (and essentially, mysticism of all kinds, though I'm not sure the latter was his intention):
I guess the question really is: Is it contradictory to say that man was, at one point, not self-aware or not able to introspect (RE: in the context of Jaynes' hypothesis)?
On one of Ayn Rand's Ford Hall Forum lectures, a questioner asked a similar question of Ayn Rand, but she was not able to answer it (she said she hadn't read the book that outlined the hypothesis).
I found two Wikipedia articles on this topic, and the first appears to be the source of the excerpt cited in the question:
 "Bicameralism (psychology)"
 "Julian Jaynes"
Ref  fixes the date of a claimed transition from "bicameralism" to modern self-consciousness at around 1200 BC (i.e., roughly 3000 years ago), which would have been prior to the rise of ancient Greek culture. Yet this also seems too recent to have been a genetic adaptation in human evolution. If Jayne's theory is accurate, it must have been a behavioral adaptation. I could not clearly determine from the Wikipedia articles if Jaynes is arguing for a genetic adaptation or a bahavioral adaption, or if he even differentiates between the two at all. (I am not familiar with Jaynes' work; I'm commenting only on the Wikipedia descriptions.)
The foregoing is primarily a topic in the special sciences, not philosophy. Objectivism looks at man as he is today (and throughout history going back at least as far as the ancient Greeks) to identify man's fundamental metaphysical nature. If there actually was a major evolutionary development (whether genetic or behavioral) some 3000 years ago, it's primarily an issue for the special sciences to investigate, having little bearing on the issue of modern man's metaphysical nature. There were clearly many evolutionary developments in the history of man, dating back even farther than 3000 years ago. It is fascinating science but does not alter an objective philosopnhic understanding of modern man.
Philosophy also identifies epistemological standards for the special sciences. One aspect of Jaynes' theory that is philosophically dubious is the following, from ref. :
Jaynes defines consciousness -- in the tradition of Locke and Descartes -- as "that which is introspectable." Jaynes draws a sharp distinction between consciousness ('introspectable mind-space') and other mental processes such as cognition, learning, and sense and perception -- which occur in all animals. [Brian McVeigh] argues that this distinction is frequently not recognized by those offering critiques of Jaynes' theory.
In Objectivism, any organism that has at least a sensory capacity is "conscious" to that extent. Objectivism would classify it as an error (epistemologically) to define "consciousness" so narrowly as to exclude a vast range of sensory-perceptual awareness. Objectivism also points out that ultimately "consciousness" cannot be defined at all, except ostensively; it is an axiomatic concept. "Awareness of reality" is about as close as one can ever come to a true definition of concsciousness, but even that approximation really amounts to little more than "consciousness is conscious" -- along with other axiomatic formulations such as "consciousness is conscious of something," "something exists which one perceives," and "that which exists is something, i.e., it is what it is."
answered Dec 29 '10 at 11:55
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