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The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art [Anglais] [Broché]

David J. Lewis-Williams
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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Descriptions du produit

The Mind in the Cave The author combines a lifetime of anthropological research with the most recent neurological insights in this text. Illuminating glimpses into the ancient mind are interwoven with the self-evolving story of modern-day cave discoveries and research.

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 320 pages
  • Editeur : Thames & Hudson Ltd; Édition : Reprint (5 avril 2004)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0500284652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500284650
  • Dimensions du produit: 3,1 x 15,9 x 23,4 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 1.416 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 excellentes remarques sur l'art des cavernes 11 septembre 2012
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Belle étude sur la signification de l'art paléolithique européen. Bonnes références bibliographiques.
L'hypothèse chamaniques est cependant discutable. Dans l'ensemble un livre qui pose bien les problèmes et fait réfléchir
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.2 étoiles sur 5  22 commentaires
51 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Michaelangelo's Palaeolithic roots 5 février 2006
Par Stephen A. Haines - Publié sur
Any book challenging Established Truths deserves a place in your library. This exquisite example closely and vividly investigates the world of Western European rock art. Not an "art critic's" analysis, Lewis-Williams explains the roots of this enigmatic form of human expression. In so doing, he offers new insights into the idea of "spiritual realms" and the formulation of religions. With research delving in areas ignored or forgotten, the author demonstrates why our views of our Paleolithic forebears needs revision. Of foremost importance is the need to shed the notion of "primitive" as a quality attributed to our ancestors. The cave artists were "modern" humans in every sense of the term.

Lewis-Williams opens his study with a review of the first overturning of how we view humanity's track. Cave art had been found as early as the 17th Century, but the discoverers had no idea of the stretch of time those pictures had crossed. Not until the great insight of Charles Darwin, relying on Lyell's vast idea of an ancient earth, did it become possible to view cave art as remnants of prehistoric human life. The technology that could accurately date these pictures pushed the date of their creation back thousands of years. New finds set human artistic expression to more than 75 thousand years ago.

Lewis-Williams contends that these artefacts are the result of a sharp change in human intellect. About 75 thousand years ago, in various places at different times, the human consciousness experienced an elaboration. The immediate environment no longer was the limit of experience. Humans added what is known as "higher order" consciousness to the "primary consciousness" that allowed us, along with most other animals, to survive. Now, the more developed brain could achieve new levels of thought - "altered states of consciousness" in the author's term. Under certain conditions, the brain might even be imaging itself. Without any means of understanding the images they seemed to be "seeing", Paleolithic humans interpreted these visions as representing a "spirit" world. That world might be "above" in the skies or "below" in the earth. Caves acted as the perfect intermediate place to try to comprehend and react to these phenomena. The more tactile of these "vision-seers" would use the cave walls to depict their visions. Ultimately, the rocks became viewed as a "membrane" between the real and spiritual worlds. The spirits, or "gods" could now be portrayed visibly and even communicated with.

Lewis-Williams meticulously details how many of the paintings and symbols were rendered. The harsh glare of modern electrical lights, he reminds us, obscure the shifting and apparent "movement" that would be observed by people bearing the flickering oil lamps and torches into the caves. That "reality" gave the images greater impact on the artists and viewers as they worked and communed with the spirit world. No universal pattern emerges from these cave "studios", the author makes clear. Some may have allowed a large gathering to participate, either in the creation of images or in supplementary rituals. Others clearly allowed but one or a few attendees due to the restricted nature of the passages or the rooms containing the graphics. These are not, he says, the renderings of a Paleolithic leisure class, but working images vital to the population concerned. Some may have been strictly local, while others served wide-spread communities at various times and circumstances.

With many excellent renderings of cave art images, some in colour, to enhance the text, Lewis-Williams presents a logically developed and well-substantiated scenario. He stops his analysis at what can be seen and inferred from what we know of Paleolithic people. Yet, if you wonder what would drive people into the deep and darkened recesses of a hillside cave, just walk into the nearest cathedral or even small community church. These are dark, quiet places, severing the visitor from the travails and pressures of daily living. Communing with spirits is the raison d'etre of such temples. Are they the modern expression of the forces that drove our Paleolithic ancestors? [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
60 internautes sur 67 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Stimulating & Thought-provoking 15 février 2003
Par Pieter Uys - Publié sur
The author posits a fascinating explanation for the origin of art and the creation of images by early mankind: the evolution of the human mind. He theorizes that the people of the Upper Paleolithic harnessed altered states of consciousness to fashion their society and used imagery as a means of establishing and defining social relationships. Cro-Magnon man had a more advanced neurological system and order of consciousness than the Neanderthals, and experienced shamanic trances and vivid mental imagery. It was important for them to paint these images on cave walls that served as a membrane between the everyday world and the realm of the spirit.

Hallucinations were instrumental in personal advancement and the development of society. He refers to the pioneering psychologist William James who already in 1902 pointed out the different states of consciousness and to Colin Martindale who identified the following different states: Waking, realistic fantasy, autistic fantasy, reverie, hypnagogic and dreaming. The sense of absolute unitary being (transcendence/ecstasy) is generated by a spillover between neural circuits in the brain caused by factors like meditation, rhythmic stimulus, fasting etc. The essential elements of the religious experience are thus wired into the brain.

Two case studies are used in support of this theory: South African San rock art and North American rock art. Chapter 8 is especially fascinating since it offers possible solutions to certain puzzles of cave art, like the mixture of representational and geometric imagery. The author believes that the trail of images from the cave entrance to the dark, almost inaccessible recesses represents a connecting link beween the two elements of an "above/below" binary opposition. Physical entry into the caves reflected the entry into the mental vortex that leads to the hallucinations of the deep trance state. In other words, the trail from the conscious mind to the deep recesses of the subconscious.

This book provides much food for thought about our earliest ancestors and about the evolution of consciousness. Graham Hancock's absorbing work Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind was written in defense of Lewis-Williams' theory. In addition I recommend William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience, R M Bucke's Cosmic Consciousness, Rupert Sheldrake's Chaos, Creativity and Cosmic Consciousness plus Stone Age Soundtracks: The Acoustic Archaeology of Ancient Sites by Paul Devereux as companion reading to Lewis-Williams' fascinating text. The book includes many figures and 97 illustrations of which 27 are in colour.
17 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Anatomically and Mentally Modern Humans 29 juin 2003
Par G. Joy Robins - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
David Lewis-Williams has developed a unique insight into the early modern humans that painted the caves of Europe. He reasons that being modern anatomically, the function of their minds that were dependent on brain anatomy must also have been comparable to ours. He makes an excellent case that what we call "altered states of consciousness" were used by ancient shamans to access the spirit world and to interpret it to others in their culture. It is not the real world that is illustrated on the cave walls, but visions and halucinations obtained in various levels of trance. All members of the community could relate to those visions because of common experiences like dreams. For the shamans, this was a source of personal and political power and signaled a stratification of society. The author's ideas are communicated persuasively and interestingly. He makes us think without ever becoming ponderous.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Even in caves there is Enlightenment 9 février 2010
Par Michael Murauer - Publié sur
Did you think up to now that cave art might be of a somewhat remote scientific and cultural interest? Do you still cling to that dualism of the two cultures believing that only science is real science? Read this book and you will forget about that. First you get some interesting lessons in history of sciences the discovery and explanation of paleolithic art can tell. Further on the author sums up briefly but adequately the essentials of a scientific theory of knowledge. A well defendable concept for the development of consciousness and the resulting social changes is presented. Typical stages of altered consciousness link cave art to shamanism and mystical experience as found in the religious tradition ever since. Common neurobiological and neuropsychological mechanisms (which can be also be oberved in near-death experiences by the way) account for all that. It's just a small step from the paleolithic cave to modern neurotheology as pursued by Newberg and others. When it comes to their social impact these phenomenons of the human mind have an ugly and a beautiful face as we know all to well. Lewis-Williams is at once imaginative in his explanations and uncompromising in his philosophical position: We should distinguish between the pleasure we can derive from works of art we owe to religious devotion and "the terrible belief that God ist speaking directly to us and telling us not only how to order our own lives but also to impose that order on other's lives. What is in our heads is in our heads, not located beyond us. That is the crux of the matter, and is does not diminish Bach, Shakespeare, Donne and Wordsworth." (P. 291)
8 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Shamanism-Yes! Neuroscience-No. 5 septembre 2012
Par Gregory Nixon - Publié sur
I probably would be more likely to go for 3.5 stars if that were a choice, but if I must choose 4 is better than 3.

David Lewis-Williams is an erudite scholar and an articulate, if not compelling, writer. His thinking spreads more broad than dives deep, it seems to me, very much a part of the current cultural ethos of biological reductionism. The topic is so good and he is obviously so well-researched that this book is still a good read for those interested in such things. It is noteworthy that none other than the great French scholar of cave art, Jean Clottes, calls this work "a genuine masterpiece" (on the cover), but I suspect he is referring to Lewis-Williams' bold new approach to rather well-known and widely accepted suggestion for the origins of these incredible prehistoric cave paintings. I refer to shamanism, which explanation goes at least as far back as Leroi-Gourhan and was certainly well supported in the theoretic works of Joseph Campbell. The fact of these cave paintings alone is enough to make for great reading (though this is not a browseworthy picture book since the reproductions are small and mainly there to support his argument), and the addition of explaining by way of Shamanistic vision activity should make it even more compelling. However, visions are not the thrust of Lewis-Williams' main argument for shamanism. He basically sees evidence in the prehistoric art for an ongoing competition for power and position amongst various shamans. This seems confusing since the paintings strike one as visionary as one would imagine a shaman's flight into other worlds would be, but this confusion lessens when we realize Lewis-Williams isn't buying into any of that sacred journey or even Jungian collective unconscious stuff. He sees humanity as driven by that ever-present selfish gene, which manifests itself in political struggles even in prehistoric times. Some people like shamans, according to the author, were privileged; in their need to maintain predominance and oppress the masses, they had to demonstrate their great power by orchestrating (not necessarily doing them on their own) better cave paintings (including painting over those of the opposition). That such a biological reduction becomes the ultimate explanation for Lewis-Williams is made clear in his long and rather boring final section attempting to apply recent neuroscientific imaging studies to these prehistoric minds, without any good reason for doing so, if you ask me. Brains do not explain minds, and minds are a cultural phenomenon. Now that I read my own words, I'm going back to 3 stars.
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