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From the introduction:
Jaynes goes over the history of failed scientific conceptions of consciousness in a series of somewhat vignettes on views from Associationism to Skinnerian Behaviorism. There’s a strong whiff of straw about this section, but it’s an important reminder that for most of its modern history academic psychology refused to take the study of consciousness seriously. Christof Koch writes in his own book on the topic that “in the late 1980s, writing about consciousness was taken as a sign of cognitive decline.” I think that one of Jaynes’ historic contributions is mainstreaming consciousness as a topic of interest for both science and pop-science. The Origin, published in 1976, may have paved the way for the work of Koch, Dennett, Sachs, et al.
In a premonition for the rest of the book, the historic review notes how every age used metaphors from whichever science was prominent at the time to refer to consciousness. To the ancient Greeks, it was an open space like the sea. When geology was popular consciousness was a structure of hidden layers, and in the steam age it was “a boiler of straining energy”.
A survey of the book club revealed the without exception, the prevailing metaphor today is the brain as a computer. While this metaphor surely introduces its own biases, at least the world of computing is rich enough to provide variety: algorithms, global workspace theory, CPU allocation, input/output, etc.