The theory rests on another idea that many people assume is obviously true without ever thinking twice.
It's the notion that verbal thought and verbal thinking is required and fundamental part of consciousness and self awareness.
When I started to read about the philosophy of consciousness, it became obvious that most people experience their own consciousness differently than I do. Their inner starting point is completely off from my personal epistemology and it may be hard for them to see the alternative viewpoint interesting.
For me, verbal thoughts have always been just one cognitive ability in par with spatial reasoning. I have always had trouble understanding why people link verbal thinking and consciousness and self awareness.
Temple Grandin's has really good insight into the differences of thinking: Thinking the Way Animals Do: Unique insights from a person with a singular understanding http://www.grandin.com/references/thinking.animals.html
I came across the same conundrum when I was studying psychology. It all came down to the medium becoming the message. Language is the prime means through which we convey experience. Of course there are other means visual, spacial but when you're "studying consciousness" you're typically reading books. Serious treatise in the area are delivered in the form of books. We come to think of thought as being predominantly verbal because that's the predominant means through which we acquire an "objective" appreciation for what consciousness "is". Even to use a word "consciousness" puts that set of concepts in a delineated box. I could go on ... but I risk becoming stream of consciousness ...
Content of our consciousness seems to be based on sensory input and sensor fusion. Thinking is running simulated sequences and scenarios in our head. Different people use different sensory content more than others. I wouldn't be surprised if some people use feelings or motor imaginary more than others.
We have visuospatial ability, audioverbal perception and motor imagery/proprioception. Interoceptive senses seem to relate feelings somehow. If you really drill and analyze what if feels to love, hate or fear. The feeling is related to our internal senses.
In this case, would numbers represent “words” in the language of mathematics? When I was younger and sharper, I used to see products of numbers physically manifest in my mind. This is a form of logic, but it also required an “alphabet” of sorts.
As an aside, I once saw an interview with a mathematical genius of sorts who stated that he associated numbers with colors. He saw the product of two numbers as a third color. Again, logic without traditional language.
Your friend was probably right about his/her brain, and you're right about yours.
There is support for a weak version of Sapir-Whorf, but in general any time someone says "the limits of your language determine the limits of your thought" I just s/language/culture.
To me that is really weird idea, and I think that it can even be "proved" to be wrong (obviously my opponents disagreed also there)
Namely, if language or verbal thinking was the defining part of thinking, following two things would necessarily be true:
1. There would need to be significant concepts that people talking different languages think differently. But of course, those are extremely rare and not so significant exceptions. Even if in some languages age is something a person owns and in another something a person is (I have 20 years vs I am 20 years), people in both languages both grasp the idea of age similarly, it is the time since you were born.
2. If the verbal thoughts were what thinking actually is, there would be no difficulties to convey my thought to you without errors. But obviously that is very difficult for anything but the most trivial thoughts. So it should be obvious that language is really only a very vague presentation of what thoughts really are.
Not necessarily. If you study linguistics you will find that (human) languages are very similar. So it is possible, that lanugage is a central part of thinking, but the differences between languages are too minor to have significant effects.
I agree with point 2 though.
The sentence itself is evidence against.
Use of spatial analogies for abstract concepts is common: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_metaphor
It's clearly formalised in words (except for the occasional visual programming languages/programs), but that's mostly superficial. The actual structure, or thoughts of how to change it seem to me more abstract and often hard to explain other than by combinations of diagrams and code - but those weren't the source of the idea(s).
--> it's not clear to me that programming (which is quite clearly a conscious activity) is reducible to purely verbal or visual thoughts.
Similar comments apply to other intellectual endeavours.
Each todo is a sequence of tasks, but I don't necessarily assign names to the task parts or think of them verbally. The "local variables" have names in the final code, but not necessarily in the blueprint for the sequence of tasks. The naming of things really comes in only for the dict key names when passing data around.
Find a class on it, one that's at night and one that has half the class go to the bar afterwards, ideally with Deaf people at the bar too.
The social situation, the lack of inhibitions/fears to try stuff, you really pick it up fast.
Language involves representation. "self-consciousness" as generally expressed, is one's representation of one's self.
Obviously one can have visual or spatial representation of one's body. But the unique quality of language is that it involves an easy shorthand for the manipulation of representations. "Who am I?" is the standard question of consciousness - as language, it has a thousand shades. I don't know if it can even be meaningfully expressed in other modalities but if it could, it doesn't seem like it could be easily manipulated in the fashion of language.
Even when dealing with people, social situations, my feelings for them, about them, situations I am in or might be in, or things I'm contemplating in the past -- so little of that is verbal. I flash to prior experience, prior situations, I posit new ones, I wonder how a person might sound, what their voice might show. I had a very hard time completing sentences and constructing verbal arguments before I was around 25. I was different, and my senior classmates in high school in Brazil, I don't think maliciously, voted me "most likely to go insane".
The stream-of-consciousness self-dialog in some literature is a necessarily limited mapping of this mode of thinking to words. It's a hint of how I feel most people really think. Words and phrases are but one element of inner thought, and become paramount only when laying out written or verbal communications with others ... and even then, in live or recorded conversation, can be overshadowed by vocal quality and intonation, and non-verbal body-language.
EDIT: added high-school superlative ... and also, I'm INFP, if there's anything to that.
The thing is that I don't think language being tied to self-consciousness in the sense of Jaynes is really a statement about what internal experience involves.
Further, the point is that language is a tag which allows to whatever extent internal experience to be represented and sent to other "consciousnesses" (other language-processors who attempt to reproduce those experiences either verbally or non-verbally).
I've actually asked people if they think in language and the answer has always either been "yes" or "what do you mean? Of course!"
However, for me "rubber duck debugging," or just talking things through with someone is exceedingly helpful to help sort my thoughts out--or 'bring them into consciousness,' as the author would say.
I've been surprised by the hostility/resistance to the idea that we don't think in language, especially when I'm trying to convey to people how my own mind works.
In trying to convey my experience with language, I have to try to express a layer of...as best as I can get in programmer speak...multithreaded-notthreadsafe-consciousness-impressions. These I then have to translate into single-threaded verbal language in order to communicate with others.
Indeed, without my years of practice to try to become a better communicator, I find this results in my natural speech being a kind of stocatto-mid-sentence-pausing way of speaking, as I have to join each thread of threaded-conscious-impressions before coercing and outputting it in the best approximation of a serial structured verbal language. Over the years I've just become better at pre-buffering before the verbal component is output and consciously shutting down other threads.
When I'm thinking of logic and computer programs alternatively, I often find myself thinking visual-spatially.
Indeed, when I'm really thinking hard and trying to understand some algorithms, I can sometimes be seen closing my eyes and even engaging my arms/hands as though i'm moving, conducting or manipulating physical things. Because in my head that's exactly what I'm doing: the arrays/lists/things exist as spatial objects in my mind, and I'm running things through by manipulating them in space or seeing how they fit together spatially/in relation to each other.
The way I explain it, thoughts in my mind are organized in graphs, perhaps like a wiki. As I communicate, I'm constantly deciding which concepts to render inline into text, which to keep handy in case it comes up, and which to ignore. I find that I have decent memory, but it's hard to get to a story from a prompt (like: "tell me something funny from your childhood").
This Temple Grandin bit is great!
Perhaps at some point you will travel into the past and do the nasty in the pasty with one of your ancestors, and that past nastification results in you being your own ancestor. That is known to be capable of causing one to have a mind that works differently from that of the rest of humanity.
Huh? Yes, yes I am watching the Futurama marathon on SyFy right now. How did you know?
The best you'll get with 'language' is poetry and puns and outline-style hierarchies, but these don't cover anywhere near all types of thought. As stark examples, I don't think you can classify e.g. sculptures or textile patterns or mechanical designs as 'language'.
> Jaynes ... decides to read early texts, including The Iliad and The Odyssey, to look for signs of people who aren’t capable of introspection—people who are all sea, no rime. And he believes he sees that in The Iliad. He writes that the characters in The Iliad do not look inward, and they take no independent initiative.
Suitcase words like "consciousness" are tricky to work with.
With language as a key portion. See any discussion of deaf people who aren't taught language until late in life, such a Helen Keller. The stories consistently have them emotionally overwhelmed when the first learn language. They want to know the names of everything.
And also, they consistently talk about "before" and "after". Before language, they were a collection of emotions, fears, desires, etc. After language, they existed for the first time. They could name things, including themselves.
This looks a lot like the transition to self aware consciousness. Which means Jayne isn't entirely wrong.
The ego (or the default mode network, in which I hypothesize the ego "resides") basically connects those disparate parts of the brain and makes the leap to turn the brain from a few interacting modules into an integrated whole, giving rise to the sense of the self as we understand it today. This must somehow activate our self-awareness by us understanding not only that we inhabit a body, but that the mind doing so can also be identified.
A secret theater of speechless monologue and prevenient counsel, an invisible mansion of all moods, musings, and mysteries, an infinite resort of disappointments and discoveries.”
If you’re intrigued reading the article, or have had the book on your ‘todo’ for years now I’d really encourage you to just go get a copy and take it on. It provides a wealth of food for thought - a lovely example of a theory that in all likelihood is in its details totally wrong, but enriches the reader regardless.
Scholars assume that reading aloud (Latin clare legere) was the more common practice in antiquity, and that reading silently (legere tacite or legere sibi) was unusual. In his Confessions, Saint Augustine remarks on Saint Ambrose's unusual habit of reading silently in the 4th century AD.
He comes from a comp sci background but has several books and very well structured arguments for Idealism. His manner of delivering his insights I think particularly appeal to those with analytical and critical thinking backgrounds.
He has several very good videos on YouTube as well.
“What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”
However, when we test for language in other animals, we do not test for these underlying cognitive abilities. Rather, rather, we test for the animals ability to express these facilities through some communication system with other animals (either in the same species, or with humans).
It is conceivable to have an animal that has all of the cognitive abilities we associate with language except the ability to serialize/deserialize  it. While this ability is significant at the species level, it does not seem like it would be particularly significant at an individual level.
Further if you take the view that language was evolved primarily as a tool for thinking (rather than a tool for communicating), this possibilities seems even more likely. Under this view, we would first develop the cognitive aspects, then develop the communicative aspects on top of them (in the same way that we evolved our "speech organs" on our digestive (tongue) and respiratory (lungs/airway) ones.
It also seems plausible that it was this adaptation that allowed humans to pass the singularity point necessary to reach modern society (which grew up very quickly on an evolutionary timeline). If this were the case, then I would expect to see that the rest of the cognitive abilities associated with speech are actually present and similar in related species.
 Our current model of human language is that of a tree. We do not see processes that act on a linear structure until we get into phonology.
It's not. That's why I said that any good theory is going to have to account for all the sentience in the world that doesn't talk to each other.
Secondly, my point is that other animals may still have "language", but just without the small components necessary for communication. If this were true, then language could still be the explanation for consciousness.
I don't agree. Many other types of animals have rudimentary languages, but I wouldn't dispute the sophistication of human language towers above all others, that in itself rests (along with other uniquely sophisticated behavioural endowments) upon what really differentiates us which is the capacity for imagination and abstract thought. The capability to imagine things that aren't actually real, but perhaps could be. It's thought that the seat of all this is the frontal cortex but I see now on wikipedia that is contentious these days 
A single outlying data-point hardly disproves a theory, and even so, you can't possibly know that the monkey knew what he was doing. It could just be mimicry. Your thinking about what the monkey is thinking is distinctly the distinguishing trait of human psyche I'm talking about.
EDIT: Also relevant. Operant theory can explain seemingly "intelligent" behaviour as random or observed and mimicked actions that are then reinforced by the environment 
Your monkey's behaviour could be explained in a similar vein to that which explains "cargo cult" behaviour .
Now, you could say that this is indeed "intelligent" behaviour, but then again a dog can be trained to open a door, and pigeons can be trained to orient themselves based on a clicker . But what I'm talking about here is what distinguishes human intelligence from other forms of life on this planet.
But computers are nowhere near being able to have conscious thought. So what's the difference? Clearly it's not just natural language that differentiates the conscious from the unconscious.
Taking it further, i would argue that whatever physics theory that claims to state the truth about the Universe and its origins has to explain how consciousness works down to the elementary level. Similar how electronic circuits can be explained based on the atomic model and quantum theory. Like a "Quantum theory of consciousness" or some such.
Theories in physics has always been useful even though they are incomplete to this day.
But almost all pschological educated people I talked to found it too muddy.
I've always wondered, do we actually know this for sure? What's the evidence? Just by introspection, it is so hard for me to imagine being in a state of mind where I didn't believe that if I dropped a rock off a cliff twice, under similar conditions, it would do pretty much the same thing the second time. Or that if I did it over and over again, I would start to see patterns that I could rely on for later. This feels as hard-wired as just about anything in my mind.
To me, it makes more sense to think that humans have always thought the same way, and these days we just have better tools and have learned to refine the cognitive abilities that are wired into us. But I'm really interested to hear the case for the other side.
For instance, there is a Babylonian clay tablet from ~1700 BC that gives an approximation of sqrt(2) as 1.414213 (correct to 6 decimal digits).
At best I think such ideas help challenge beliefs about ourselves in the modern era. At worst I think they perpetuate a tendency for people to dehumanize those whom we can't personally identify with.
I think the idea might partly come from the dream-like quality of ancient myths, but I feel like that underestimates the ability of people to partition those myths from daily life. It's not like our current religious stories are exactly logical.
Also, I saw an article on the news about a treatment involving VR for people who hears voices in their head. In the video, the person described the voices as distinct and she could even interact with them.
So I would say there's something to explore there.
Jaynes proposes that in the Iliad the Greeks "heard the voices of the gods" and used those to make decisions. In our modern society I'm sure a lot of religious people would find God(s) speaking directly to them a fabrication of the mind, but auditory hallucinations are common and well documented. I often find on the edge of sleep I can lucidly think of a tune or song and hear at as clearly as if it was actually being played in the room.
I think Jaynes made a really interesting observation about older theistic societies that took for granted the ability for people to receive instructions in their heads from the gods. It seems commonplace in religious literature at the least that people can interact with gods and hear what they have to say, something which we tend to interpret more as a metaphor nowadays.
If we reject his theory on consciousness as being a modern substitute for heavenly direction, I don't think that necessarily rules out a cognitive function that we've lost over the past few thousand years - one which could have developed from a young age by not writing off auditory hallucinations as mental noise...
Is there any contemporary book or resource that summarizes the current academic views and discoveries on the subject?
If a similar phase change had occured 3000 years ago, I'm pretty sure it would have been well-documented. I have a hard time believing that this event is for the first time being seen clearly from a vantage point three thousand years distant!
The Sapiens book makes a similar assertion, that something changed in the brain about 10000 years ago, when agriculture was invented.
Before that people hunted and gathered for 200k years with little progress and suddenly there was an explosion.