"When Julian Jaynes...speculates that until late in the second millennium B.C. men had no consciousness but were automatically obeying the voices of gods, we are astounded but compelled to follow this remarkable thesis through all the corroborative evidence..."
- John Updike, in The New Yorker
"This book and this man's ideas may be the most influential, not to say controversial, of the second half of the twentieth century. It renders whole shelves of books obsolete."
- William Harrington, in Columbus Dispatch
"Having just finished The Origin of Consciousness, I myself feel something like Keats' Cortez staring at the Pacific, or at least like the early reviewers of Darwin or Freud. I'm not quite sure what to make of this new territory; but its expanse lies before me and I am startled by its power."
- Edward Profitt, in Commonweal
"He is as startling as Freud was in The Interpretation of Dreams, and Jaynes is equally adept at forcing a new view of known human behavior."
- Raymond Headlee, in American Journal of Psychiatry
"The bold hypothesis of the bicameral mind is an intellectual shock to the reader, but whether or not he ultimately accepts it he is forced to entertain it as a possibility. Even if he marshals arguments against it he has to think about matters he has never thought of before, or, if he has thought of them, he must think about them in contexts and relationships that are strikingly new."
- Ernest R. Hilgard, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
"The weight of original thought in it is so great that it makes me uneasy for the author's well-being: the human mind is not built to support such a burden."
- D.C. Stove, in Encounter
At the heart of this book is the revolutionary idea that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but is a learned process brought into being out of an earlier hallucinatory mentality by cataclysm and catastrophe only 3000 years ago and still developing. The implications of this new scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion - and indeed, our future. In the words of one reviewer, it is "a humbling text, the kind that reminds most of us who make our livings through thinking, how much thinking there is left to do."