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Left Brain/Right Brain

That’s an excerpt from a 99-cent Kindle article by the psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist. It’s a point he makes at far greater length in his big 2009 book The Master And His Emissary: The Divided Brain And The Making of the Western World. Dr. McGilchrist’s point is that since the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, we have constructed a culture based on the left hemisphere’s prejudices, one that privileges left-hemisphere ways of knowing, and demeans right-hemisphere, intuitive ways of knowing. His view is that we need both sides working in greater equilibrium to flourish, but we don’t have that now, which is why we are in such trouble. The final paragraph in the passage above is how I think about the world of technopoly into which we have moved and continue to move with breakneck speed.

The Master And His Emissary is, in a very general way, a neuroscientific corollary to Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed.  Deneen argues that liberalism (by which he means classic liberalism) failed because it succeeded so well at liberating the individual. Trouble is, you can’t run a stable society that way. Dr. McGilchrist says we are failing because if you set up a society tyrannized by left-hemisphere thinking, you can have tremendous successes, especially in science and technology, but the cost will be tremendous, because you will have blinded yourself to the validity of entire realms of experience, which is to say, to a broader spectrum of reality.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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