[The Divided Brain – RSA Animate, YouTube 11:48]
Renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how the divided brain has profoundly altered human behavior, culture, and society (here's the full video of the lecture).
It's a fascinating topic and it calls us to patiently revisit some assumptions based upon oversimplification. For example, we need a necessary distance from the world in order to feel empathy. When we're right up against it, we just bite. Standing back actually allows us to see better.
To make decisions, we need an oversimplified version of reality, however. It's no good to have every single little detail. What you need in that case is to know the specifics on the questions and pieces of information that matter to you for that execution.
We need both hemisphere for imagination and both for reason.
The world of the left hemisphere is fixed, general in nature, decontextualized, isolated, static, and characterized by denotative language where abstraction yields clarity.
The right hemisphere by contrast yields a world of individual, changing, evolving, interconnected, implicit, incarnate, living beings within the context of the living world never perfectly known.
The nature of the two worlds as described offer two versions of our world, which we obviously combine in different ways all the time.
What happens when we prioritize the virtual over the real? How do we deal with technology?
If you skip to the last couple of minutes, you will see that our left brain, particularly in the West, is very vocal and convincing. There is also a hall of mirrors going on — the more we get trapped into this, the more we undercut the situations and evidence that doesn't reflect back what we already know.
Language and reason are important. However, we do need to see the big picture, to return to a broader context, as McGilchrist put it.
Einstein said "the intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant."
We've created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
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