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

A wonderful discussion between 3 of the greatest minds of our time:

Listened to this while driving today so I don't know if it was McGilchrist or Sheldrake that said the following, but suspect it was Sheldrake:
"Micromanagement leads to mediocrity". Then told a story about entering a Masters program at Harvard where students were basically given texts to read and then did exams on them. The point made was that this was just an injection of information, but really didn't encourage anything to creatively grow that was intrinsic to the student - there were no intuitive leaps or the time or freedom to investigate any linking materials. So Sheldrake approached administration and basically said, not word for word, "I don't need a Masters from Harvard, I can buy one from Cambridge for five pounds. This is not the way that I learn so is there anyway that I can just spend time here learning without worrying about the degree?" They ended up changing his status to one of 'special student' and he used the facility to learn what he wanted and attend the lectures that most interested him.

They also discuss music and say that rhythm is largely LH and melody and harmony largely RH. I wonder if there is some correlation to tone deafness. Also the 'doof, doof' music that is often played loud enough to test the suspension in some young fellow's souped up cars is apparently largely LH.

Edited to add: Sheldrake theorises that the reason that split brain peeps appear normal to friends and family could be because in the absence of a corpus callosum joining the two hemispheres of the brain, that there maybe morphic resonance between the hemispheres.

Very interesting video over all. I'm about 25mins into this one now and while not into the meat of it yet, the title is intriguing:

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I finally started reading the Matter with Things. Related to the video above, here is a quote from the introduction of the book. McGilchrist is describing attention:

The best way I can put it is that it is the manner in which our consciousness is disposed towards whatever else exists. The choice we make of how we dispose our consciousness is the ultimate creative act: it renders the world what it is. It is, therefore, a moral act: it has consequences. 'Love', said the French philosopher Louis Lavelle, 'is a pure attention to the existence of the other'.

Which reminds me of the C's - 'To know is to love'. It bodes very well for the rest of this book (which is also a relief because it's massive, weighs a ton and cost a lot of money!). 🤣
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.

Regarding this excerpt:

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."

I've been reading McGilchrist's book for several months now, and am almost finished. I do not believe that it is possible that this statement by the C's is accidental in its phrasing.

First, and most obviously: there is the juxtaposition of 'right and left' rather than the more usual 'left and right', which is a clue that they wanted us to pay very close attention to this statement. As an aside, isn't it very interesting that we say 'left and right', thereby giving the left priority?

Second: it is the function of the right hemisphere to provide an integrated experience of reality, one which includes the more limited perspective of the left hemisphere. Notice that 'right and left' is associated with 'strict attention to objective reality'.

Third: notice the juxtaposition of 'a dream in the "past"' vs. 'the reality of the "Future"'. The quotes around past and future indicate that these are to be treated with care.

McGilchrist goes into great detail about the profoundly different ways in which the hemispheres experience time. The left hemisphere slices time up into frozen frames, which it then replays backwards, as it were - when it envisions the future, it retrojects from some imagined future state through a series of broken up, motionless steps. The left hemisphere is also where models and maps of the world are preferred to direct experience of the world - one might well call this a dream, since it is very much illusory, the model of the world not being the world.

Conversely, the right hemisphere (which, remember, is responsible for perceiving reality) experiences time as an unbroken, continuous flow that moves from the past, through the present, into the future, with all three seamlessly interwoven into the same durational flow. It is not a series of instants, with a distinct past, a distinct present, and a distinct future - they're all of a piece. Consider how at any given time your memories, your hopes, and your present state are all simultaneously present, all mingled together.

The point is that the hemispheres have very different ways of perceiving time, and the hemisphere that experiences reality directly is the one that experiences time moving forward.

Fourth: "Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out." This is exactly the stance of the left hemisphere towards the world - as a standing reserve of resources to be used. Not only that, but the LH's inability to see anything but its simplified models of reality - indeed the way it systematically substitutes those models for reality - means that it is constantly 'ignoring or shutting out' the world, by neglecting everything that contradicts or simply is not present in the model.

Fifth: "For those individuals, the worlds will cease." Because the left hemisphere splits time into separate instants, the world it perceives is profoundly static. It is not a living world of ceaseless change and motion, but a lifeless world in which everything is frozen - in other words, for those who rely exclusively on the LH, the world ceases.

Reading this quote in light of The Matter With Things, I believe that the C's have offered us something very important with layers of meaning to it. They aren't just making a prophecy for the future (but they aren't not doing that, either), but more profoundly, a key to what is happening right now, always has been, and always will be. They're saying that those who awaken their whole minds by making sure to keep both hemispheres engaged at all times will experience the world in a profoundly different way from those who allow their LH to run the show. Maintaining this internal balance then enables one to navigate reality as it unfolds. Those who remain asleep, relying on their LHs alone - which is the dominant tendency in our society - will sleep walk off a cliff because they will be completely unable to perceive reality.

What's incredibly powerful about this is how damned simple it turns out to be. Once you understand this basic dynamic inside your brain, it becomes much easier to maintain that balance, because you know what the characteristic modes of cognition are for each hemisphere and you can recognize when the LH is in action. Once you see that, you say, ah yes, that again, just my brain doing its thing, and you rebalance to the RH view.

We've been covering Eastern Philosophy in another local group I belong to. Roger Ames is well versed with the differences in Eastern and Western philosophy. Daoism is something worth exploring along the lines of what a predominantly right brain philosophy looks like in contrast to most Western philosophies. Here's an excerpt from Ames introduction to the Dao De Jing:

"The Chinese binomial most frequently translated as kosmos is yuzhou , a term that overtly expresses the interdependence between time and space. The “world” as shijie is likewise expressed literally as the “boundaries between one’s generation and the tradition.” For ancient China, time pervades everything and is not to be denied. Time is not independent of things, but a fundamental aspect of them. Unlike traditions that devalue both time and change in pursuit of the timeless and eternal, in classical China things are always transforming (wuhua ). In fact, in the absence of some claim to objectivity that “objectifies” and thus makes “objects” of phenomena, the Chinese tradition does not have the separation between time and entities that would allow for either time without entities, or entities without time—there is no possibility of either an empty temporal corridor or an eternal anything (in the sense of being timeless). What encourages us within a Western metaphysical tradition to separate time and space is our inclination, inherited from the Greeks, to see things in the world as fixed in their formal aspect, and thus as bounded and limited. If instead of giving ontological privilege to the formal aspect of phenomena, we were to regard them as having parity in their formal and changing aspects, we might be more like classical China in temporalizing them in light of their ceaseless transformation, and conceive of them more as “events” than as “things.”

In this processual worldview, each phenomenon is some unique current or impulse within a temporal flow. In fact, it is the pervasive and collective capacity of the events of the world to transform continuously that is the actual meaning of time. A second assumption of Daoist “cosmology” (now using this term “cosmology” under advisement) that follows from this acknowledgment of the reality of both change and the uniqueness that follows from it is that particular “things” are in fact processual events, and are thus intrinsically related to the other “things” that provide them context. Said another way, these processual events are porous, flowing into each other in the ongoing transformations we call experience. Formation and function—the shape of things and what they do to whom—are interdependent and mutually determining characteristics of these events. It is for this reason that things resist “definition” in the literal sense of finis—a practice that delineates some ostensibly discrete boundary around them, and thus reduces all relations to external, extrinsic transactions. With fluid and shifting boundaries among things, integrity for any particular thing does not mean being or staying whole, or even actualizing its own internal potential. Rather, integrity is something becoming whole in its co-creative relationships with other things. Integrity is consummatory relatedness. Integrity in this sense of becoming whole in one’s relations with other things is a co-creative process in which one shapes and is shaped by one’s environing circumstances. Not only is change an integral characteristic of things, but real creativity is a condition of this continuing transformative process.

That is, our immediate experience is composed of fluid, porous events that entail both persistence and the spontaneous emergence of novelty, both continuity and disjunction. In this evolving order, there is at once a familiar rhythm to life, and the newness of each moment. The irrepressible presencing of novelty within the context of what already exists guarantees the uniqueness of each emerging event, and preempts notions such as strict, linear causality, absolute predictability, and reversibility. The world is ever new. And the propensity of things—the force of circumstances—inching ahead in its seeming ineluctability, is always underdetermined, attended as it is by the contingency of real novelty. In our introduction to Focusing the Familiar: A Translation and Philosophical Interpretation of the Zhongyong, we introduce a distinction between power and creativity, and follow A. N. Whitehead in questioning the appropriateness of using “creativity” in the familiar creatio ex nihilo model that we associate with Judeo-Christian cosmogony. Whitehead argues that any robust sense of creativity requires that creativity itself is more primordial than God. In the received Judeo-Christian tradition, the all-powerful God determines things, makes things. God, as Omnipotent Other Who commands the world into being, is Maker of the world, not its Creator. In the presence of the perfection that is God, nothing can be added or taken away. There can be no novelty or spontaneity. Thus, all subsequent acts of “creativity” are in fact secondary and derivative exercises of power.

Creativity can make sense only in a processual world that admits of ontological parity among its constitutive events and of the spontaneous emergence of novelty. Power is to be construed as the production of intended effects determined by external causation. Real creativity, on the other hand, entails the spontaneous production of novelty, irreducible through causal analysis. Power is exercised with respect to and over others. Creativity is always reflexive and is exercised over and with respect to “self.” And since self in a processive world is always communal, creativity is contextual, transactional, and multidimensional. Thus creativity is both self-creativity and co-creativity. Either everything shares in creativity, or there is no creativity. Indeed, it is this transactional, co-creative character of all creative processes that precludes the project of self-cultivation and self-creation from being egoistic. One further point can be made with respect to the creativity that the spontaneous emergence of novelty makes possible. The radical sense of creativity that we associate with “bringing into being” in a creatio ex nihilo sensibility is too isolated and extreme for this idea within the Daoist tradition. The term dao, like the terms “building,” “learning,” and “work,” entails both the process and the created product. It is the locus and the time frame within which the always contextualized creativity takes place. When the Zhuangzi observes that “we are one with all things ,” this insight is a recognition that each and every unique phenomenon is continuous with every other phenomenon within one’s field of experience. But is this an exhaustive claim: are we talking about all phenomena in the continuing present? Because the world is processional and because its creativity is ab initio rather than ex nihilo—a contextual creativity expressed across the careers of its constitutive phenomena—any answer to this question would have to be provisional. Phenomena are never either atomistically discrete or complete. The Zhuangzi recounts: With the ancients, understanding had gotten somewhere. Where was that? Its height, its extreme, that to which no more could be added, was this: Some of these ancients thought that there had never begun to be things. The next lot thought that there are things, but that there had never begun to be boundaries among them"….5

Ames, Roger; Hall, David. Dao De Jing (pp. 15-18). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
A wonderful discussion between 3 of the greatest minds of our time:
It was a wonderful discussion Cosmos and I really enjoyed it thank you. Not the most deep or philosophical thoughts to remember but I liked their down to earth description of some problems faced today. e.g

Unemployment Benefit should be re-classed as Research Grants. This was Mr Sheldrake's take, said with humour.

Life outside the machine (basically everything but more-so the Universities) to be encouraged leaving behind the Micro-Managed society.

It was nice to hear McGilchrist refer to the Machine, a perfect description of the Micro-Managed society we have been wedged into.
I got the audiobook and felt that a lot slipped through the cracks listening to rather than reading it the first time around, so am giving it a second go without any distractions and am on the first chapter. One thing that struck me in regards to McGilchrist's descriptions of the differences between the two modes of hemispheric functioning and how the left brain utilizes language to, in a sense compartmentalize our perception's in a way that can be broken down and clarified in greater detail.

And even though this is necessary to impart information on complex matters, also leans towards a disembodied and mechanistic worldview in it's explanations, separate and isolated in a sense from that which is being observed and understood. And that this is a pale attempt at expressing our innermost experiences and expressions of a greater whole of which we're a part of. Anyways, it reminded me of this quote from the Tao Te Ching which conveys this duality through language but from a more right-brain or holistic perspective.

It also explains why I love the book so much and how when I try to intellectually force an understanding and meaning conveyed in its teachings, the further away I 'feel' from what the author(s) meant. It's as if what's being said needs to be relaxed into, and understood from a level that bypasses critical thought and reaches a place in the depth of one's being.


Even the finest teaching is not the Tao itself.
Even the finest name is insufficient to define it.
Without words, the Tao can be experienced,
and without a name, it can be known.

To conduct one's life according to the Tao,
is to conduct one's life without regrets;
to realize that potential within oneself
which is of benefit to all.

Though words or names are not required
to live one's life this way,
to describe it, words and names are used,
that we might better clarify
the way of which we speak,
without confusing it with other ways
in which an individual might choose to live.

Through knowledge, intellectual thought and words,
the manifestations of the Tao are known,
but without such intellectual intent
we might experience the Tao itself.

Both knowledge and experience are real,
but reality has many forms,
which seem to cause complexity.

By using the means appropriate,
we extend ourselves beyond
the barriers of such complexity,
and so experience the Tao.
In the following video, McGlichrist doesn't give as much information about LH/RH, but there are some useful subjects covered so well worth the watch.
- good and evil.
- PTB and control structures.
- Suppression of free speech.
- psychopathy.
- methods of resistance.

In the following video, McGlichrist doesn't give as much information about LH/RH, but there are some useful subjects covered so well worth the watch.
Good video! I liked his refutation of criticisms against intuition by comparing with optical illusions and sight: just because our sight can give us a misleading impression due to the imperfections that optical illusions work off, doesn't mean we choose not to see anything to avoid being misled! The benefits of sight are clearly worthwhile; likewise with intuition.
Iain McGilchrist is widely read in both art, philosophy, history and the sciences. His terms take on their own definitions within his frameworks, specifically the left-brain will-to-categorize as a source of infantile power. So I always find it interesting when those with little background and thoroughly unread find him offensive. It tells me 10,000 things more about their own love of ignorance and belief in the magical left-brain categories that are "true".

Here's a thread I find amusing (and utterly ignorant of his specific use of the term autism in the large Master and Emissary context). Look at all the will-to-power categorization going on in this thread.

This is a must-watch interview between JBP and McGilchrist. See if you can spot the very subtle vectoring going on in the realm of Old Testament apologia. I also think McGilchrist would do well to balance his fascination with Kabblah a little.

Quick summary of points I found interesting:
- The way “Duality” is used commonly implies separation; McGilchrist means something more inclusive in his use of the term.​
- More connection and communication not necessarily a good thing!​
- Brain as a filter: permits and filters information.​
- LH is ‘quick and dirty’ in its assessments, not the more comprehensive RH.​
- Unity and multiplicity as a coincidence of opposites.​
- Multiplicity ‘unfolding’ within unity; the image of the Rose and its association with the Spiritual Universe.​
- Images present much more information than the artist can convey.​
- Typical conscious awareness about 0.5% of our consciousness.​
- Importance of intuition.​
- LH apprehends, RH comprehends.​
- Our attention is a moral act that creates both the world and ourselves.​
- “Truth” can be seen from both a LH or RH perspective.​
- True comes from a root word meaning “being faithful”; LH wants to “find truth”, RH wants to “stay true”.​
- Ontology has as a basis the coincidence of opposites.​
- Music portrays the tension between unity and multiplicity in rhythm, melody, harmony, polyphony.​
- Importance of the concept of "flow" - the perception that everything flows as a process.​
- We know of nothing in the Cosmos that is at all like a machine, except for the machines that people have made in the last few hundred years.​
- Bureaucratic mind a symptom of LH thinking.​
- Locus of emotional control comes from the RH.​
- Luciferian intellect a symbol of pride, overreach, hubris, resentment, Dunning-Kruger effect.​
- Unknowing as an important step towards wisdom, opposite of ignorance: ‘emptying your cup’.​
- Schizophrenic preference for painting disembodied eyes - Luciferian, panoptical oversight, “Eye of Sauron”, “All-Seeing Eye”.​
- Eye of God is within each human being; mythologically and theologically represented by Horus, Atman.​
- Fidelity - music term that also means faithfulness.​
- Matter as a manifestation of a different phase of consciousness.​
- William Blake's painting Jacob’s Ladder - picture of a spiralling ladder is unusual in art history.​
- Distance and togetherness needed for a lasting relationship.​
- Time, space and matter needed to create beautiful things that will endure.​
- Empiricism is flawed because attention is a moral act and a precondition for the facts themselves.​
- Attention of all-encompassing awareness can be practised.​
- “The type of attention you pay governs what it is that you find.”​
- We should question what we think is obvious all the time.​
- LH finds ‘truth’ by closing down, RH finds truth by opening up.​
- The principle of calling and growth and balanced multiplicity of vision as the pinnacle of the hierarchical of values.​
- Tower as Babel as a spiralling upwards structure aimed at the wrong pinnacle of attention.​
- Ecological problems of the world cannot be addressed without returning to a spiritual vision of life.​
- IM finds Christianity appealing due to the beauty of the works it has produced.​
- "God cannot be completely known"; RH view of the Universe.​
- Beauty, goodness and truth, and the “Spirit of Calling” as a pinnacle of attention.​
- Genuine play is intuitive, flows naturally.​
- Seeing the world as in flow, as a process.​
- Not noticing time in the flow state, even while time is still there.​
- Heuristics as an impediment to the development of experts.​
- Tai Chi an excellent practice for instinctual movement and flow.​
- Risk assessment forms useless in psychiatry. IM used an untrained nurse with 40 years of practical experience as his risk assessor.​
- Success of The Matter with Things; people hungry for difficult and ‘meaty’ topics.​
- IM thinks the Eastern Orthodox church is the only remaining form of mainstream Christianity that hasn’t ‘sold out’.​

And believe it or not, IM says he's never read Lord of the Rings!!! 😮 I hope someone he knows recommends that to him!
The following is an interesting video for the fact that McGilchrist has to work very patiently to defend his theory against the questioning of Rupert Read who can't seem to get it through his thick skull that McGilchrist has not said LH all bad and RH all good and that there is important utility to the LH. I was getting frustrated for him! McGilchrist seems to be exasperated at times and then says he can hear his cat in a fight and leaves the interview to go and rescue him, or that's the story he tells anyway. I wonder if he needed to leave for a break to take a breather and calm down because he seemed to be going over the same point again and again.

The following is an interesting video for the fact that McGilchrist has to work very patiently to defend his theory against the questioning of Rupert Read who can't seem to get it through his thick skull that McGilchrist has not said LH all bad and RH all good and that there is important utility to the LH. I was getting frustrated for him! McGilchrist seems to be exasperated at times and then says he can hear his cat in a fight and leaves the interview to go and rescue him, or that's the story he tells anyway. I wonder if he needed to leave for a break to take a breather and calm down because he seemed to be going over the same point again and again.

I'll put his on my watchlist. Your summary sounds amusing. I picture in my head IM's thoughts: You idiot, you can't stop classifying long enough to get the facts through your possessed skull.
Cross posting Ennio’s post from the Denver Airport thread- it struck me that the whole concept of an Aerotropolis is the epitome of the obtrusion of the left hemisphere in reality:
New plans are underway to develop the areas in the vicinity of Denver Airport in what they are calling an 'Aerotropolis':

Efforts to build an “airport city” called Colorado Aerotropolis are now official

The organization heading this effort, Colorado Aerotropolis, is a conglomeration of local municipalities that want to attract business to the area. Or so they say.

What kind of business do they seek to attract?
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • AI
  • Blockchain
  • Electronic components
  • Engineering
  • Machine learning
  • Medical instruments
  • Robotics
  • Software development
  • 5G technologies... and beyond
Putting my tinfoil cap on, it just seems like the marketing and playing to the public they require to account for the building of infrastructure necessary to help their long-planned agenda come to fruition.
We are reading the final chapter in The Master and his Emissary in our Reading workshop, and it goes into detail about what the world would look like at a phenomenological level if the left hemisphere was running the show. Well, the above proposal is a sad indictment of taking it to an extreme level of virtuality & mechanisation. Humanity is well on its way to losing its humanity. :-(
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