Ancient Brains

For the second time, I've stumbled upon a reference that Homer, and possibly his audience, was colorblind. Sacks cites the Odyssey's "wine-dark sea" and other lines as evidence. Where did I see this before? Maybe in "The Future of Man", where Medawar discusses recent evolution trends.

It's neat to think that something so basic to our worldview -- true color perception -- might only be a few thousand years old. And our decendents will marvel that we couldn't see into the UV spectrum.

But I'm also reminded of reports about ancient thinking. I wish I had this blog a few years ago, when I was reading interesting books. I recall the notion that ancient Greeks and Romans didn't believe they could think -- as we do -- but rather, that the gods put notions into their heads. This might be Sacks as well, one of his footnotes?

Googling on this leads to
It is likely that millions of years ago our waking life was not too different from our dreaming life. Consciousness in dreams is a series of flashes which are fragmented and very emotional... Today our consciousness has acquired a different profile: it has evolved to a more or less smooth flow of thoughts, in which strong emotions don't normally figure prominently... One could argue that ancient gods simply represent concepts. As concepts were forming in human minds, human minds expressed them as concepts. And their interaction yielded religions.

Not quite what I was going for, but this is closer (
Everywhere else in the Mediterranean and Near Eastern area, knowledge was still based on the assumptions that nature and man's history, and much of what men thought, were ruled by Gods.

Where to go with this? Well, it's easy to imagine prehistoric and early historic people as being just like us, but without education or the security and convenience of civilization. It's more compelling to think that education isn't just learning facts but is necessary for an ordered consciousness, for making sense of the world.

One site points to: The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bi-cameral Mind by Julian Jaynes.