chapter  7
The Quest for Certainty
Pages 18

Julian Jaynes in his The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976) presented a grand theory of the development of human consciousness and its relationship to the development of human history. In Jaynes’s theory the bicameral mind began to break down in Western civilization around 12 BC. Prior to the breakdown of this twosided bicameral mind the right hemisphere of the brain had subconsciously made meaning of everyday life. As a meaning-making entity, the right hemisphere transmitted its perceptions to the whole brain. Individuals interpreted such transmissions as the voices of gods speaking to them. After the breakdown humans were no longer blessed by this divine intervention in their lives. As a result, they were beset by anxieties and tensions resulting from the need for truth about the world and the ability to make conscious decisions. Subsequent Western history, Jaynes maintained, thus became a quest for certainty, a search for new forms of authority.