'The master and his emissary' and 'The matter with things' by Iain McGilchrist.

panca kanga

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I wonder if any one has had chance to read "The Master and His Emissary" by Iain McGilchrist?
(cf. at Amazon: __www.amazon.co.uk/The-Master-Emissary-Iain-McGilchrist-ebook/dp/B003ZSHUG6)


Why is the brain divided? Iain McGilchrist draws on a vast body of recent brain research, illustrated with case histories, to reveal that the difference [between hemispheres] is profound...
McGilchrist takes the reader on a journey through the history of Western culture, illustrating the tension between these two worlds as revealed in the thought and belief of thinkers and artists, from Aeschylus to Magritte. He argues that, despite its inferior grasp of reality, the left hemisphere is increasingly taking precedence in the modern world, with potentially disastrous consequences. This is truly a tour de force that should excite interest in a wide readership.

In another post I have mentioned my interest in Julian Jaynes earlier book on a similar topic, I have not read this one yet, but looked through it at a friend's house and he has promised to lend it me when he finishes it. At first glance it appears to be a similar interdisciplinary combination of brain science, and cultural history.

On top of that, I have recently read (most of) "Thinking Fast and Slow" by David Kahneman and there are several aspects of Kahneman's book that I was unhappy with - aspects of both style and content. From my cursory glance I am pretty sure that McGilchrist would find much of the origins of System 1 and 2 Thinking in the bicameral structure of the brain. So I also hope that McGilchrist's wider perspective will give a more complete picture of what Kahneman is describing and help me get a better handle on my problems with that book.

I will post more, if it seems worth while, when I have once again got my hands on either of those books.
 

gnosisxsophia

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panca kanga said:
I wonder if any one has had chance to read "The Master and His Emissary" by Iain McGilchrist?
(cf. at Amazon: __www.amazon.co.uk/The-Master-Emissary-Iain-McGilchrist-ebook/dp/B003ZSHUG6)

Why is the brain divided? Iain McGilchrist draws on a vast body of recent brain research, illustrated with case histories, to reveal that the difference [between hemispheres] is profound...
McGilchrist takes the reader on a journey through the history of Western culture, illustrating the tension between these two worlds as revealed in the thought and belief of thinkers and artists, from Aeschylus to Magritte. He argues that, despite its inferior grasp of reality, the left hemisphere is increasingly taking precedence in the modern world, with potentially disastrous consequences. This is truly a tour de force that should excite interest in a wide readership.

Hi Team,

Having recently finished an essay by the same author, 'The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning' it was interesting how many similarities were illustrated between left brain dominance, mechanical interpretation and what could perhaps be considered psychopathic tendencies.

A brief overview can be found here -

https://www.ted.com/talks/iain_mcgilchrist_the_divided_brain/discussion?awesm=on.ted.com_Wolpert&utm_campaign=&utm_medium=on.ted.com-static&utm_source=direct-on.ted.com&utm_content=awesm-publisher

Of particular interest was the conception of images drawn by a subject under normal conditions, then with the right hemisphere inactivated; and then with the left hemisphere inactivated.

treez.jpg


The imagery displayed, when functioning with only the left hemisphere, representing a shallow, token representation of reality.

Notable also was the apparent total absence of interpretive analysis of personal observation / experience - starkly outlined by a subject, with her right hemisphere deactivated, who considered truth to be 'what it says here on this piece of paper'

Which brought to mind Woodsmans recent "Objective Reality Right and Left" thread.

https://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php/topic,45150.0.html

And particularly natures' 'C's quote -

nature said:
Good point! It can also be left and right hemisphere of our brain. If we can re-connect them, we'll see clearer, we'll get mosaic view, both the right and the left part of the big picture. And also the forward and back, as you say, and as mosaic view is spherical.

Q: (L) Could you describe to me the true meaning of the Osirian cycle. What was the symbology of the killing of Osiris and the cutting up of the body?

A: Removal of knowledge centers.

Q: (L) Knowledge centers in what?

A: Your DNA.

A: Separation of female energy from male energy union.

Q: (L) Does this have anything to do with brain activity?

A: Yes. The separating of the hemispheres of the brain.

Q: (L) Was this achieved through DNA modification?

A: Yes.


And not having been aware of the phenomenon of 'Yakovlevian Torque' or the 'twist' in the brain, until Gilchrist, I was also immediately reminded of the topic of 'spinning' https://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php/topic,4818.0.html in the context of Ra's polarity of the hemispheres -

''Ra: I am Ra. The lobes of your physical complex brain are alike in their use of weak electrical energy. The entity ruled by intuition and impulse is equal to the entity governed by rational analysis when polarity is considered. The lobes may both be used for service to self or service to others. It may seem that the rational or analytical mind might have more of a possibility of successfully pursuing the negative orientation due to the fact that, in our understanding, too much order is by its essence negative. However, this same ability to structure abstract concepts and to analyze experiential data may be the key to rapid positive polarization. It may be said that those whose analytical capacities are predominant have somewhat more to work with in polarizing.

The function of intuition is to inform intelligence. In your illusion the unbridled predominance of intuition will tend to keep an entity from the greater polarizations due to the vagaries of intuitive perception. As you may see, these two types of brain structure need to be balanced in order that the net sum of experiential catalyst will be polarization and illumination, for without the acceptance by the rational mind of the worth of the intuitive faculty the creative aspects which aid in illumination will be stifled.

There is one correspondence between right and left and positive and negative. The web of energy which surrounds your bodies contains somewhat complex polarizations. The left area of the head and upper shoulder is most generally seen to be of a negative polarization whereas the right is of positive polarization, magnetically speaking.
''


As, if we can consider conventional electromotive phenomena, the action of spinning could have the affect of inducing an inward or possibly corrective magneto-motive force to the right hemisphere?


brain.jpg



pole.jpg



FWIW well worth a read imo :)

Cheers

J
 

Cosmos

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Cross posting from the Jordan Peterson thread:

Pashalis said:
Watched Petersons recent interview with Dr. Iain McGilchrist, author of the book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, discussed here:


https://youtu.be/xtf4FDlpPZ8


While in the UK, recently, I had a chance to sit down for an all-too-short half-hour with Dr. Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and His Emissary (description below). Our conversation was taped by Perspectiva (http://bit.ly/2EOCiU0), who described it as follows: "An extraordinary half-hour conversation about the brain, chaos, order, freedom, evil, mythology, being, and becoming between two of the leading thinkers of our time."

Dr. McGilchrist's book (Amazon description: a fascinating exploration of the differences between the brain’s left and right hemispheres, and how those differences have affected society, history, and culture) is available here:

It was quite a fascinating an interview and Dr. Iain McGilchrist work sounds like it could be quite an interesting read. McGilchrist also talkes about a new book that is in the making with a title like "There are no Things". He explains in the video what there is instead, namely always ongoing processes or something like that.

Dr. Iain McGilchrist website is here. Here is a short description of his book The Master and His Emissary:

This book argues that the division of the brain into two hemispheres is essential to human existence, making possible incompatible versions of the world, with quite different priorities and values.

Most scientists long ago abandoned the attempt to understand why nature has so carefully segregated the hemispheres, or how to make coherent the large, and expanding, body of evidence about their differences. In fact to talk about the topic is to invite dismissal. Yet no one who knows anything about the area would dispute for an instant that there are significant differences: it’s just that no-one seems to know why. And we now know that every type of function – including reason, emotion, language and imagery – is subserved not by one hemisphere alone, but by both.

This book argues that the differences lie not, as has been supposed, in the ‘what’ – which skills each hemisphere possesses – but in the ‘how’, the way in which each uses them, and to what end. But, like the brain itself, the relationship between the hemispheres is not symmetrical. The left hemisphere, though unaware of its dependence, could be thought of as an ’emissary’ of the right hemisphere, valuable for taking on a role that the right hemisphere – the ‘Master’ – cannot itself afford to undertake. However it turns out that the emissary has his own will, and secretly believes himself to be superior to the Master. And he has the means to betray him. What he doesn’t realize is that in doing so he will also betray himself.

The book begins by looking at the structure and function of the brain, and at the differences between the hemispheres, not only in attention and flexibility, but in attitudes to the implicit, the unique, and the personal, as well as the body, time, depth, music, metaphor, empathy, morality, certainty and the self. It suggests that the drive to language was not principally to do with communication or thought, but manipulation, the main aim of the left hemisphere, which manipulates the right hand. It shows the hemispheres as no mere machines with functions, but underwriting whole, self-consistent, versions of the world. Through an examination of Western philosophy, art and literature, it reveals the uneasy relationship of the hemispheres being played out in the history of ideas, from ancient times until the present. It ends by suggesting that we may be about to witness the final triumph of the left hemisphere – at the expense of us all.

Here are a couple of presentations and interviews with McGilchrist I haven't watched yet:


https://youtu.be/dFs9WO2B8uI


https://youtu.be/SbUHxC4wiWk


https://youtu.be/DiPrM0DNI8w

In one of his videos on the website that I shortly skipped through he was talking about the greek, roman and our civilistation and that a combination of working with both hemispheres of the brain brought each into being and every time the left hemisphere took to much control each civilisation collapsed.

His book sounds like an interesting read. The new book he refers to in the Peterson interview sound interesting too.
 

gnosisxsophia

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Pashalis said:
In one of his videos on the website that I shortly skipped through he was talking about the greek, roman and our civilistation and that a combination of working with both hemispheres of the brain brought each into being and every time the left hemisphere took to much control each civilisation collapsed.

His book sounds like an interesting read. The new book he refers to in the Peterson interview sound interesting too.

Thanks for the contribution Pashalis,

I probably could have added that the essay is less than $2 US on both Kobo and Kindle -

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-divided-brain-and-the-search-for-meaning-why-we-are-so-unhappy

https://www.amazon.com.au/Divided-Brain-Search-Meaning-ebook/dp/B008JE7I2M

Synopsis

In this 10,000-word essay, written to complement Iain McGilchrist's acclaimed The Master and His Emissary, the author asks why - despite the vast increase in material well-being - people are less happy today than they were half a century ago, and suggests that the division between the two hemispheres of the brain has a critical effect on how we see and understand the world around us. In particular, McGilchrist suggests, the left hemisphere's obsession with reducing everything it sees to the level of minute, mechanistic detail is robbing modern society of the ability to understand and appreciate deeper human values. Accessible to readers who haven't yet read The Master and His Emissary as well as those who have, this is a fascinating, immensely thought-provoking essay that delves to the very heart of what it means to be human.


Cheers

J
 

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McGilchrist identifies three mutually opposed pairings within the brain that are likely to be significant in understanding why we think and behave the way that we do - the up/down (cortex vs basic automatic responses), the front/back (frontal lobes and attentional priorities in the posterior cortex) and the right-left (different roles of the hemispheres). While each aspect of our 'multi-polar' brain has ramifications for the way we think and behave, his focus is primarily on the roles of the left and right hemispheres. He writes that 'The hemispheric differences are not just a curiosity, with no further significance, a bunch of neuropsychological facts, but actually represent two individually coherent, but incompatible, aspects of the world.'

As far as the frontal lobes are concerned, McGilchrist writes:

'The defining features of the human condition can all be traced to our ability to stand back from the world, from our selves and from the immediacy of experience. This enables us to plan, to think flexibly and inventively, and, in brief, to take control of the world around us rather than simply respond to it passively. This distance, this ability to rise above the world in which we live, has been made possible by the evolution of the frontal lobes.'

I have found a rather interesting E-book relating to the importance of the posterior cortex for attention and working memory here if anyone is interested in the subject, since the rest of the book is based on the left-right paradigm and the others do not receive the same attention.

As McGilchrist notes in the book it is not nearly a cut and dry 'left brain is masculine and right brain is feminine' approach. Neither is it a 'left brain is language and right-brain is music'. Rather, his argument is that they are two completely different ways of viewing the world - the left with its 'divide, label, and find utility' approach and the right with its 'global picture and understanding the betweenness of the phenomena in question'. It strikes one as being similar to the 'man is a machine' vs the 'Idea of History' approach discussed elsewhere in the forum. However, McGilchrist notes it's likely that, if one hemisphere is 85 per cent as efficient at a task as the other the one, the more efficient hemisphere will likely do the whole job.

That said, these are many of the primary differences between hemispheres that McGilchrist identifies.

  • The right hemisphere, with its greater integrative power, is constantly searching for patterns in things. In fact its understanding is based on complex pattern recognition.
  • The right hemisphere is biased towards what lies further ‘from me’, an aspect of its broader, wider and deeper attention
  • If one hemisphere is 85 per cent as efficient at a task as the other the one that is better will do the whole job
  • Hemispheres differ in number of neurons, neuronal size, and the number of connections
  • There is greater connectivity in the left hemisphere compared to the right, reflecting the left's focus on 'local' connections vs the right's 'global' connections
  • The left is always a 'winner': Winning is associated with activation of the left amygdala, losing with right amygdala activation
  • There is more white matter in the right hemisphere, reflecting a greater speed of processing
  • In animals the right hemisphere is biased towards looking out for predators; (in McGilchrist's interview with Peterson he says the left is the predator, the right is the prey)
  • Patients with right frontal deficits, but not left frontal deficits, suffer a change of personality whereby they become incapable of empathy
  • In general abstract concepts and words, along with complex syntax, are left-hemisphere-dependent
  • The right hemisphere's language inferiority depends to a significant degree on positive inhibition by the left hemisphere.
  • The right hemisphere turns out to have a more extensive vocabulary, including long, unusual and non-imageable words.
  • It is the relations between things, more than entities in isolation, that are of primary importance to the right hemisphere.
  • The idea of a 'self' seems associated with the right hemisphere; patients with damage to the left hemisphere have difficulty forming self concepts
  • Melody, tone, timbre and pitch-processing are almost always mediated via the right hemisphere (in non-professional musicians)
  • The right hemisphere is also more realistic about how it stands in relation to the world at large, less grandiose, more self-aware, than the left hemisphere
  • The right hemisphere is responsible for every type of attention except focussed attention. Even where there is divided attention, and both hemispheres appear to be involved, it's probable that the right hemisphere plays the primary role

Of major significance is the left hemisphere's inability to understand, and the right hemisphere's affinity for, metaphor. McGilchrist says that 'The importance of metaphor is that it underlies all forms of understanding whatsoever, science and philosophy no less than poetry and art. The right hemisphere specialises in non-verbal communication. It deals with whatever is implicit, where the left hemisphere is tied to ‘more explicit and more conscious processing.’ p. 70

Concerning what the C's have said about avoiding anticipation, McGilchrist's description of the left hemisphere's 'stickiness' corresponds very closely to concepts of 'anticipation':

p. 162 said:
The difficult bit about the ‘stickiness’ of the left hemisphere is that once we have already decided what the world is going to reveal, we are unlikely to get beyond it. We are prisoners of expectation.

New experience, as it is first ‘present’ to the mind, engages the right hemisphere, and as the experience becomes familiar, it gets ‘re-presented’ by the left hemisphere. Not only does the left hemisphere seem to specialise, as Goldberg and Costa observed, in dealing with what is (already) familiar, but whatever it is the left hemisphere deals with is bound to become familiar all too quickly, because there is a tendency for it to keep recurring to what it already knows.

This goes hand in hand with what the C's have said:

Laura said:
Q: (L) OK, we've been talking earlier this evening about intent, and of course, our own experiences with intent have really been pretty phenomenal. We've come to some kind of an idea that intent, when confirmed repeatedly, actually builds force. Is this a correct concept, and is there anything that you can add to it?

A: Only until anticipation muddies the picture... tricky one, huh?

Q: (L) Is anticipation the act of assuming you know how something is going to happen?

A: Follows realization, generally, and unfortunately for you, on 3rd density.

Q: (L) Is this a correct assessment of this process?

A: Both examples given are correct. You see, once anticipation enters the picture, the intent can no longer be STO.

Q: (L) Anticipation is desire for something for self. Is that it?

A: Yes.

Q: (L) OK, so it's OK to intend something, or to think in an intentional way, or to hope in an intentional way, for something that is to serve another, but anticipation defines it as a more personal thing.

A: And that brings realization.

Q: (L) So, desire to serve others, and to do something because it will help others, brings realization...

A: But, realization creates anticipation.

Q: (L) Well, how do we navigate this? I mean, this is like walking on a razor's edge. To control your mind to not anticipate, and yet, deal with realization, and yet, still maintain hope... (J) They said it was tricky... (L) This is, this is, um...

A: Mental exercises of denial, balanced with pure faith of a non-prejudicial kind.

Q: (L) OK, so, in other words, to just accept what is at the moment, appreciate it as it is at the moment, and have faith that the universe and things will happen the way they are supposed to happen, without placing any expectation on how that will be?

A: Yes.

Q: (L) This is, and I'm not asking about Ark, this is something that he has talked about in terms of shaping the future. He talks about shaping the future as an intentional act of shaping something good, but without defining the moment of measurement. In other words, adding energy to it by intent, but not deciding where, when or how the moment of measurement occurs. When the quantum jump occurs, it occurs on it's own, and in it's own way. Is this the concept he's dealing with here?

A: Anticipation.

Q: (L) In other words, is what he's talking about anticipation?

A: No.

Q: (L) Well, what do you mean, anticipation in response to what I said?

A: That is the key to shaping the future... Avoiding it.

McGilchrist explains the different roles of the hemispheres as follows:

p. 40 said:
This difference is not predicated on any of the old distinctions such as verbal versus visuospatial. It operates equally in the realm of attention to verbal information. In keeping with what we know of its priorities, the left hemisphere actively narrows its attentional focus to highly related words while the right hemisphere activates a broader range of words. The left hemisphere operates focally, suppressing meanings that are not currently relevant. By contrast, the right hemisphere ‘processes information in a non-focal manner with widespread activation of related meanings’.

Schizophrenia and schizotypal disorders significantly affect this global vs particular division of attention.

p. 43 said:
Global attention, courtesy of the right hemisphere, comes first, not just in time, but takes precedence in our sense of what it is we are attending to; it therefore guides the left hemisphere's local attention, rather than the other way about. As an illustration, we would normally see the images below as an H (composed of Es) and a 4 (composed of 8s).

Selection_036.png

The exception to this is in schizophrenia, where the right-hemisphere-dependent ability to see the whole at once is lost; then the figure becomes just a mass of Es and 8s. One of the crucial differences in schizophrenia – and in schizotypy – lies in the mode of attention, whereby the whole is built up from the parts. However, the attentional hierarchy can also be inverted in certain circumstances in normal individuals. When there is a high probability that what we are looking for lies at the local level, our window of attention narrows, in order to optimise performance at this level, ‘thus reversing the natural tendency to favour the global aspect’.

With all of the discussion surrounding neurofeedback and understanding the machine, I think these insights could prove valuable.
 

Gaby

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Hesper said:
Of major significance is the left hemisphere's inability to understand, and the right hemisphere's affinity for, metaphor. McGilchrist says that 'The importance of metaphor is that it underlies all forms of understanding whatsoever, science and philosophy no less than poetry and art. The right hemisphere specializes in non-verbal communication. It deals with whatever is implicit, where the left hemisphere is tied to ‘more explicit and more conscious processing.’ p. 70...

With all of the discussion surrounding neurofeedback and understanding the machine, I think these insights could prove valuable.

It reminds me the Right Hemisphere (RH) explanations in "Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Developmental Trauma".

In the book, Sebern Fisher explains how the RH is nonverbal, spatial, and relational. It is devoted to affect regulation, spatial processing, novelty, and seeing the forest through the trees.

She says that the RH develops first, during the first 18-30 months after birth, and it shuts down development when the Left Hemisphere (LH) comes online about that time.

In most people, the LH is verbal, sequential, and rational. It is about text, whereas the right is about context. It is focused on the trees, not the forest. The LH comes online around age 2, as the baby relies on prosody to make his point, to words and then to sentences.

Sebern Fisher says that premature talking and particularly sentence construction signal that the RH has not fully developed and predict the likelihood of affect regulation problems. She's generalizing and I think there would be exceptions or just personal characterizations and/or talents that might not fall in into this generalization.

She quotes some research which explains how the orbitofrontal region is expanded in the RH to regulate arousal. The right frontotemporal cortex exerts inhibitory control over intense emotional arousal.

Referring to developmental trauma (DT), Fisher explains how traumatic experiences are initially organized on a nonverbal (RH) level. In DT, people get driven by their emotions and fears. They think what they feel, they behave what they feel, and they are what they feel.

Nevertheless, Fisher says how not everyone agrees with this cut and dry LH vs RH division. Some people would argue for a more positive role of the LH in terms of positive emotions. Nevertheless, in Fisher's experience, people treated with neurofeedback which calms intense levels of arousal via the RH, experience increasing capacity for love, empathy and positive attachment.

The LH gives language to a felt sense, but in DT, that narrative might be determined by a poorly regulated RH. The capacity to put feelings into words depends on some level of regulation in the RH.

I don't know how accurate it is, but Fisher reports that a way to determine the speech center in left-handed people is by watching how they write. The fingers of their left hand point to the dominant hemisphere. If speech is in the right, then affect regulation is likely to be in the LH, a situation that is called switched dominance.
 

Jones

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Approaching Infinity introduced these two books here. I think they will become the source of some very interesting discussions, revelations and learning so decided to start this thread. I have read The matter with things and have just started The Master and his emissary, which is actually in reverse order to that in which they were written.

In short, McGilchrist is explaining the differences and similarities between left and right hemispheres of the brain, their operation and the differences in perception they produce. In M & E he says that both hemispheres can each have a coherent take on things but these are incompatible with each other. As the title suggests, the left hemisphere should be the servant of the right, but there are quirks about the left hemisphere that makes it's operation 'sticky' and that it has no awareness of right hemisphere, while right hemisphere is aware of left and a whole lot more than the details that left hemiphere focusses on.

Also our current culture, in many respects tends to favour and reinforce left hemisphere, though McGilchrist states in various ways that we need the input of both hemispheres.

One of the things about the C's statement of 2nd Sept 2002 -

A: Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the "past." People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the "Future."
- that last part bugged me and kept in mind the question 'why right and left' when objective reality can be happening in any direction? A new question - did the C's give the words right and left in that order, opposite to the more popular order of left and right as a hint?

There is a flavour of what the C's have taught and things we have learned along the way in many passages explained through the operations of right and left hemispheres.

Today I listened to Bachs The art of fugue, a collection of contrapunctal pieces, after reading that listening to Bachs contrapunctal music induces a strong right hemisphere response even in trained musicians. There are versions played with violins, organ or piano available on youtube. Probably much more comfortable than squirting cold water into the right ear to shut down left hemisphere as McGilchrist talks about in one of his studies!


There are a lot of details to unpack and furiously interesting passages and subjects covered. Many mainstream conceptions of right and left hemisphere are soundly challenged and put to rest with McGilchrist dedicating a substantial portion of The matter with things to the study of split brain patients, those with various lesions or stroke patients that shut down various parts of either right or left hemisphere thus making it's opposite more dominant.

Highly recommended.
 

genero81

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Glad you started a thread on McGilchrist! I've had so many aha moments and connections with other sources of knowledge that I almost don't know where to start. Not going to get into that right now, however. I'm just trying to finish up 'The Master and His Emissary' by this Saturday for a meetup and I still have a ways to go. But I'm hopeful this thread will spark a discussion!
 

psychegram

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Approaching Infinity introduced these two books here. I think they will become the source of some very interesting discussions, revelations and learning so decided to start this thread. I have read The matter with things and have just started The Master and his emissary, which is actually in reverse order to that in which they were written.

In short, McGilchrist is explaining the differences and similarities between left and right hemispheres of the brain, their operation and the differences in perception they produce. In M & E he says that both hemispheres can each have a coherent take on things but these are incompatible with each other. As the title suggests, the left hemisphere should be the servant of the right, but there are quirks about the left hemisphere that makes it's operation 'sticky' and that it has no awareness of right hemisphere, while right hemisphere is aware of left and a whole lot more than the details that left hemiphere focusses on.

Also our current culture, in many respects tends to favour and reinforce left hemisphere, though McGilchrist states in various ways that we need the input of both hemispheres.

One of the things about the C's statement of 2nd Sept 2002 -


- that last part bugged me and kept in mind the question 'why right and left' when objective reality can be happening in any direction? A new question - did the C's give the words right and left in that order, opposite to the more popular order of left and right as a hint?

There is a flavour of what the C's have taught and things we have learned along the way in many passages explained through the operations of right and left hemispheres.

Today I listened to Bachs The art of fugue, a collection of contrapunctal pieces, after reading that listening to Bachs contrapunctal music induces a strong right hemisphere response even in trained musicians. There are versions played with violins, organ or piano available on youtube. Probably much more comfortable than squirting cold water into the right ear to shut down left hemisphere as McGilchrist talks about in one of his studies!


There are a lot of details to unpack and furiously interesting passages and subjects covered. Many mainstream conceptions of right and left hemisphere are soundly challenged and put to rest with McGilchrist dedicating a substantial portion of The matter with things to the study of split brain patients, those with various lesions or stroke patients that shut down various parts of either right or left hemisphere thus making it's opposite more dominant.

Highly recommended.
Damn dude you read the whole thing? Hat's off, that's no small reading project. I'm only a couple hundred pages in myself and it's challenging.
 

luc

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Thanks @Jones for starting this thread!

I'm still reading it and fully agree, it's a must-read. Many times I thought "oh wow, I have come to similar conclusions, only that McGilchrist finds the perfect way of expressing it AND provides a million references!" There is just so much to unpack, and so many thoughts that have been stimulated by this reading (for example, I was inspired by some of his ideas and wrote something about the Problem of Evil on substack). It would be great to discuss some more of his insights here.

One of the things about the C's statement of 2nd Sept 2002 -

Very interesting connection! I took the comment as meaning we shouldn't limit our focus too much, but maybe they had the hemispheres in mind? I think it's possible! There are many conundrums around all of that which I'm still thinking about, but it seems to me there must be a connection between the hemisphere hypothesis and the way human minds can be programmed (via the left hemisphere), as well as the idea of higher centers that perhaps operate via the right hemisphere, but it surely isn't as clear-cut.

Damn dude you read the whole thing? Hat's off, that's no small reading project. I'm only a couple hundred pages in myself and it's challenging.

I cheated a bit and after reading the first 100+ pages, skipped to part II. I will probably go back to part 1 after I'm done with part II. I think the book doesn't necessarily have to be read from cover to cover, some chapters are almost like stand-alone essays (or books LOL). So if part I gets too dense, just skip around a bit and read a chapter that catches your interest. I rather dread the day I'll be finished with it by now, so much I'm enjoying it.
 

mkrnhr

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I haven't read McGilchrist yet but from what I gather from the mind matters discussions (especially the "beyond the schizo-autistic worldview" episode, a must watch IMO), a few videos with McGilchrist (including a documentary about him and his subject), the subject is increasingly becoming of great importance. From the lens of how a restricted mode of thinking can influence not only the mental view of the world, human interaction, and life in general, but also influence the world we live in. It also explains how materialism, nihilism, and technolatry became so common one could almost be trapped into thinking that it's the normal mode of being.
 

psychegram

The Living Force
Thanks @Jones for starting this thread!

I'm still reading it and fully agree, it's a must-read. Many times I thought "oh wow, I have come to similar conclusions, only that McGilchrist finds the perfect way of expressing it AND provides a million references!" There is just so much to unpack, and so many thoughts that have been stimulated by this reading (for example, I was inspired by some of his ideas and wrote something about the Problem of Evil on substack). It would be great to discuss some more of his insights here.



Very interesting connection! I took the comment as meaning we shouldn't limit our focus too much, but maybe they had the hemispheres in mind? I think it's possible! There are many conundrums around all of that which I'm still thinking about, but it seems to me there must be a connection between the hemisphere hypothesis and the way human minds can be programmed (via the left hemisphere), as well as the idea of higher centers that perhaps operate via the right hemisphere, but it surely isn't as clear-cut.



I cheated a bit and after reading the first 100+ pages, skipped to part II. I will probably go back to part 1 after I'm done with part II. I think the book doesn't necessarily have to be read from cover to cover, some chapters are almost like stand-alone essays (or books LOL). So if part I gets too dense, just skip around a bit and read a chapter that catches your interest. I rather dread the day I'll be finished with it by now, so much I'm enjoying it.

Maybe I'll skip straight to Part II then ... only my pride wants to say I finished the difficult sciency part ;)

McGilchrist has been getting a bit of attention on Substack of late, e.g. here


A rather fascinating and extraordinarily long volume recently came to my attention, The Matter With Things by Prof. Ian McGilchrist. McGilchrist is a psychiatrist, known for his earlier work The Master and His Emissary, in which he presented the evidence for a profound cognitive split between the modes of thought and domains of responsibility between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Hemispheric asymmetry seems to go back all the way to nematode worms. Essentially every animal with a central nervous system demonstrates some degree of functional differentiation between the two halves of the brain. This is probably due to a fundamental problem every animal has to face: as McGilchrist puts it, one must 'get without being got'. In other words, animals must sort through the vast array of sensory data collected from the phenomenal world, and identify sources of food, which they then must focus their attention and activity towards acquiring. At the same time, all those parts of the world that are outside the current attentional focus can contain extremely important information - other sources of food, lurking predators, environmental threats, and potential mates. Ignoring these details can leave one open to lethal threats or blind to life-changing opportunities. The requirements of these two imperatives are mutually exclusive, and animal life has solved the seemingly irreconcilable by simply dividing the brain into two, giving each hemisphere primary responsibility for one of the tasks.

and here


In the conclusion of Iain McGilchrist’s book The Master and His Emissary, the question is asked, “What would the left hemisphere’s world look like?” if the left hemisphere of the brain “became so far dominant that, at the phenomenological level, it managed more or less to suppress the right hemisphere’s world altogether”.

In this series of posts I’d like to break down his conclusion and discus just how closely our world is conforming to the left hemisphere’s perspective.
 

Jones

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I'm still thinking about, but it seems to me there must be a connection between the hemisphere hypothesis and the way human minds can be programmed (via the left hemisphere), as well as the idea of higher centers that perhaps operate via the right hemisphere, but it surely isn't as clear-cut.

With the above in mind and remembering that the ears were mentioned in the Greenbaum Speech, I checked it out:

They will then describe a pain in one ear, the right ear generally, where it appears a needle has been placed, and they will hear weird disorienting sounds in that ear while they see photic stimulation to drive the brain into a brainwave pattern with a pulsing light at a certain frequency......Then after a suitable period when they're in a certain brainwave state they will begin programming...

Programming under the influence of drugs in a certain brainwave state with these noises in one ear and them speaking in the other ear, usually the left ear, associated with right hemisphere non-dominant brain functioning, and with them talking, therefore, and requiring intense concentration, intense focussing.....
 

genero81

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THE MASTER BETRAYED
All the miseries of man but prove his greatness. They are the miseries of a great lord, the miseries of a king that is dispossessed–Pascal

“ARE THERE DRIVES BEHIND THE DIFFERENCES I HAVE OUTLINED BETWEEN THE hemispheres? The hemispheres appear to stand in relation to one another in terms that ask for human understanding and the application of human values–just as the competition of genes appears ‘selfish’. Putting it in such human terms, it appears essential for the creation of full human consciousness and imagination that the right hemisphere places itself in a position of vulnerability to the left. The right hemisphere, the one that believes, but does not know, has to depend on the other, the left hemisphere, that knows, but doesn’t believe. It is as though a power that has an infinite, and therefore intrinsically uncertain, potential Being needs nonetheless to submit to be delimited–needs stasis, certainty, fixity–in order to Be. The greater purpose demands the submission. The Master needs to trust, to believe in, his emissary, knowing all the while that that trust may be abused. The emissary knows, but knows wrongly, that he is invulnerable. If the relationship holds, they are invincible; but if it is abused, it is not just the Master that suffers, but both of them, since the emissary owes his existence to the Master.”

— The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist
 
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