Back Off Science


Posted in mind by backoffscience on November 16, 2009

Psychiatrist Dr Iain McGilchrist speaking here about the two halves of the brian:

“The difference is essentially one of attention. It might not sound important, but it is.

“If you look at birds, we know that chicks use the eye that is connected to their left hemisphere to get seed, to be able to pick out that detail against the grit. The other one is watching out for predators. Taking the wider view.

“The left hemisphere has its own agenda, which is to help manipulate and control the world (hence it controls the right hand for grasping). The other hemisphere has no preconceptions, and simply looks out to the world for whatever there might be. In other words it has no allegiance to any particular set of values.

“It matters because, over the course of time, there has been a shift towards the view of the left hemisphere. There has beenĀ  a series of shifts backwards and forwards, but with each shift there has been a gain of ground by the left hemispheres view of the world – the view, essentially, of the world as a mechanism.

“That is because it is a very coherent, self-refering system. It is a beautiful model which allows things to be simple, graspable and usable. It is a bit like the difference between a map, and the land the map represents.

“It results in a visualizing and self-refering world, in which doctors, teachers and policemen find, they spend an awful lot of time planning, reporting and analysing what they are doing, and not doing it.

“We have substituted a rather lifeless, mechanical, fragmented picture of the world. Which has robbed it of its complex, changing, interconnected quality. That actually has a huge impact on our view of ourselves as human beings and what we are doing on the planet.

“We are in the process of destroying the planet through a need to be constantly grasping and using. We miss out on the non-mechanical aspects of our existence, and see ourselves as simply rather clever machines and a lot of other things get neglected.