Language the base of conscious thought?

Please elaborate.

I don’t believe J would approve, but to be fair, we will never know. My opinion is that ‘conscious interiority’ just confuses the issue further by implying “this is what J really meant to say.”

What is interesting is that Dennett, in Consciousness Explained, beat around the bush incessantly even though his definition of C corresponds perfectly with J’s. No surprise there–Dennett knew J and had many conversations with him.

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"My opinion is that ‘conscious interiority’ just confuses the issue further by implying “this is what J really meant to say.” There is no such implication! I think conscious interiority is a very useful term, and goes one step further than JJ.

Knock yourself out. Opinions are like belly-buttons, everybody has one.

Is Joseph ‘conscious?’

Yes, he is aware of both his external senses and his internal planning.
Please see:

The circuitry exists, but it is not enhanced with the learned motor program we call language.

I, being a Jaynesian, believe that we learn consciousness. J was so wrapped up with the Origin that he never quite got around to the development part. In fact, he stated that his next focus was going to be on children. When you look at how children develop, you see the point at which they ‘become conscious’, somewhere between 3 and 5 depending on all sorts of things, most notably language. When they ‘become conscious’ are they fully conscious, and for now, let’s not go into exactly what that means. The simple answer is no, consciousness continues to develop and mature. So, once an individual begins to display the features of consciousness, they are conscious. How conscious? Well, I am working that.

I see a difference in learning to manipulate mental symbols and express your inner deliberations as being different than being aware of your inner “voice.” I believe that all mammals are conscious - that is they can place themselves in the environment as part of deliberations of choices of actions. They are all capable of selecting affordances with their body as part of the planning - they are aware of self.

Again - this all comes down to what you chose to include as being conscious.

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Absolutely. It is one of those things that if you choose to discuss it you have to lay down the ground rules before you do. That said, I don’t believe animals have a sense of self (and there is another vague term) and we can’t ask them, can we? Self-awareness, as determined by the self-recognition mirror test, really does not get to the core of the issue.

Through a Jaynesian lens, Joseph seems to be missing several if not all the ‘markers’ of consciousness. Granted, you don’t appear to be a Jaynesian, and so it is to me to adjust my usage of the C word. But it is difficult to discuss language as a basis for consciousness without respecting Jaynes, and I do.

“Joseph . . . could not . . . hold abstract ideas in mind, reflect, play, plan. He seemed completely literal — unable to juggle images or hypotheses or possibilities, unable to enter an imaginative or figurative realm… He seemed, like an animal, or an infant, to be stuck in the present, to be confined to literal and immediate perception…”

Bicameral humans might be described so. No temporality. No elsewheres or elsewhens.

Interesting stuff.

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Yep…J would say ‘unconscious’. I would add ‘bicameral’, but there is a faction over in the JJ Society that insists that bicameral minds must hear voices. I am not in that camp and in terms of machine consciousness, the point is pretty much irrelevant.

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What would these sentences be without the subjective pronoun? I can observe my cat interact with a chipmunk and make similar statements about what “they” do, but it is pure projection to imagine that each organism has an ‘I’ that deliberates, chooses, selects, and is aware.

I know that this Jaynesian ‘I’ requirement for consciousness is lexical choice, but there is a useful beauty in it, because – unless you opt for the ‘medical’, not-knocked-out use of the word – conscious is an apical term for humans. What you are ‘conscious of’ is the most select subsset of what you-organism behaves and reacts to, and the inner monologue threaded ‘other within’ that is YOU is seemingly wholly absent in cat or chipmunk. Cheers!

Good grief Paul, what are you doing here?

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Who else? Good gawd, we need to have that drink.

Believing that narrative thought is what makes consciousness is like an infant believing the car is propelled by shaking the steering wheel.

Yes, it sets a direction but does not propels it

Isn’t philosophy fun? My view is that conscious is defined by the ability to introspect, by meta-thinking, thinking about thinking.

Of course I might be totally wrong, but thanks to philosophy, no-one can prove it so. Which is a great pity, because I learn best by being wrong. Which is itself thinking about thinking. But I recurse…

Indeed yes. I’m just here because Roland Sassen dropped a link to this forum in the JJ FB group. I feel like a newbie again! Ah, youth.


Julian Jaynes is interesting. I’ve been thinking about his ideas for the last couple of years and do believe he stumbled onto something very interesting. He sadly was likely correct in his assessment of concept-formation. However, he was also likely very wrong in that assessment. I don’t mean likely in the probabilistic sense. I mean likely in the sense that he understood a small portion of it and it allowed him to see the whole, but also that it is a distorted framework. He gained insight, but his general system while consistent, does not cohere.