The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain

Started by Padraig, April 28, 2022, 10:15:09 AM

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A very interesting presentation by Dr. Iain McGilchrist, author of "The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World". The topic is Right-Left brain hemisphere functions. This topic is one he describes as something everyone thinks they already know, and already have dismissed as bunk. However, his approach is novel, and backed up by voluminous scientific and medical investigations. (His book has something like over 2500 citations.) Some of the examples he gives in the presentation regarding the different effects of right-sided vs. left sided strokes are particularly interesting.

Essentially, the right hemisphere is responsible for global perception. It has the ability to recognize things as they are, as opposed to the left hemisphere which recognizes things as members of a category. The right hemisphere processes information within a system of "Reasonableness" ("Is this true, does it fit within my known framework of reality?"), whereas the left hemisphere processes information within a system of "Rationality" ("Are these statements internally consistent?").

He contends that Left hemispheric thinking has predominated for the last several centuries, at least. The mechanistic, rigid, left-brain thinking has emerged as the dominant construct of modern thought, to the detriment of humanity and the world.

I found the lecture very insightful. If you watch to the end and the Q&A session, you may be put off by his position contra "fundamentalist" religious views. I do, however, think that the insights of his research and writings have important implications for our own religious approach in the Traditionalist movement. The efforts to justify traditional Catholicism through legalism is a very left-brain approach; it attempts to reduce eternal truths to a set of bullet points which can then argued ad infinitem, when in fact the beauty of the religion lies in its right-brain, perceptual, experiential awe and wonder. While there is a time and place for discussing the legality and precedent for certain aspects of the organization of Catholicism, this unbalanced approach leads to endless fruitless debates and causes both adherents and opponents to "miss the point" regarding traditional Catholicism.