the master and his emissary

The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGhilchrist

“The Master and His Emissary” by Iain McGhilchrist is a fascinating exploration of our brain’s two hemispheres and how they impact our understanding of reality. McGhilchrist argues that humanity has come to favor the left hemisphere’s way of knowing while neglecting the right hemisphere’s perspective. This left-brain dominance is distorting our perception of reality and causing the emerging meaning crisis. Understanding these ideas are crucial for developing a healthier view of ourselves and the world.




-When people object that each hemisphere is involved in everything we do, they are right. When they assume that means there are no differences, they are wrong.

-It’s not what each hemisphere does but how it does it that matters

-Each hemisphere is involved in everything just in a quite different way.

-Every known creature with a neuronal system, however far down the evolutionary tree ones goes and however far back in time, has a system that is asymmetrical. Why on earth would that be, given that the world they are interacting with is not asymmetrical?

-It’s untrue that the left hemisphere is unemotional, it is more likely to get angry or dismissive, jump to conclusions, become deluded or stuck in denial.

-It’s not true that the right hemisphere has no language (it usually has no speech) but understands some of the subtlest and most important elements of language better than the left hemisphere

-The hemisphere hypothesis transcends and replaces the old dichotomies: reason v. Feeling, rationality v. Intuition, System I vs. System II, male vs. female brains. Each hemisphere plays its part on either side of each of those dichotomies.

-Neuroimaging studies may especially fail to shed light on hemispheric lateralization. That is because they may fail to find real differences by not adequately discriminating or by aggregating data in certain ways.

-Nowadays we use — draw on the potential of — our brains differently from the way in which we have used them at different periods in the past

-The hemispheres are vastly more connected within themselves than they are to one another.

-Recognizing valid differences between two elements of a system is not to dichotomize

-Why is the brain, an organ that exists only to make connections, divided?

-Why is it asymmetrical in so many measurable respects, both structural and functional, and why does its functioning seem to depend on its being asymmetrical?

-Why is the major connection between the two cerebral hemispheres, the corpus callosum, getting smaller, and functionally more inhibitory, rather than larger, and functionally more facilitatory, with evolution?

-As a society, we are becoming more like individuals with right hemisphere deficits

-Between a quarter and a third of children aged as old as five to seven are now having to be taught how to read the human face, something that until recently would have been necessary only in the case of children with autism.

-If we had to choose 3 things to characterize most clearly the functional contribution of the right hemisphere, they would most probably be the capacity to read the human face, the capacity to sustain vigilant attention, and the capacity to empathize.

Why is the left hemisphere’s view less insightful? If it’s come to dominate

  •  It’s purpose is utility and its evolutionary adaptation lies in the service of grasping and amassing things. As such it is seductive.
  • The left hemisphere offers simple answers …the kind of thinking that is common in reductionist science (Scientism). When this sort of thinking encounters a problem in reconciling apparent irreconcilables – for example, matter and consciousness – it simply denies that one element or the other exists. That’s very convenient.
  •  The left hemisphere’s view is easier to articulate, the right hemisphere literally has no voice. Metaphor and narrative are often required to convey the implicit meanings available to the right hemisphere, and in a left-hemisphere-dominated culture, metaphors and narratives are disregarded as myths and fables or, at worst, downright lies.
  • Since the Industrial Revolution, but particularly in the last fifty years, we have created a world around us which, in contrast to the natural world, reflects the left hemisphere’s priorities and its vision.

A century ago, the physical environment was for most of humanity that of the natural world, with its rhythms and cycles, its organic, ever-growing and ever-changing interdependent life, a world to which it seemed intuitively obvious that we belong; now it has been replaced for many by an unyielding, inert, confrontational environment of non-living surfaces, straight lines, concrete masses, and largely generic shapes, which are widely experienced as alienating. The result is that the left hemisphere’s world has become externalized so that when the counterbalancing tendency of the right hemisphere to check with the real world of experience is brought into play, it is already subverted: the world ‘out there’ is already colonized by the left hemisphere’s vision. There is a self-reflexive hall of mirrors at work, where logic seems to lead back to a solution within the system itself, rather than a need to break out of it.

-The decline of civilization has been associated, not just with more left-hemisphere ways of thinking, but appropriately with form of military or economic imperialism, and a consequent overextension of administration, a coarsening of values, and a failure of vitality, vision, and integrity.

-Reductionism has become a disease, a viewpoint lacking both intellectual sophistication and emotional depth, which is blighting our ability to understand what is happening and what we need to do about it.

-4 main pathways to truth: science, reason, intuition and imagination. Any worldview that tries to get by without paying due respect to all four of these is bound to fail.



-Both hemispheres are crucially involved in reason, just as they are in language; both hemispheres play their part in creativity.

-Many of the disputes about the nature of the human world can be illuminated by an understanding that there are two fundamentally different versions delivered to us by the two hemispheres, both of which can have a ring of authenticity about them, and both which are hugely valuable; but that they stand in opposition to one another, and need to be kept apart from one another – hence the bihemispheric structure of the brain.

Why is the structure of the brain important?

-Understanding the structure of our brain can help us understand functioning of our minds and our mental experience of the world

-The brain has evolved and is in the process of evolving

-The closest and densest interconnections are formed within localities, between immediately adjacent structures within the brain

-If it is true that consciousness arises from, or at any rate is mediated by, the sheer density and complexity of neuronal interconnections within the brain, this structure has some important consequences for the nature of that consciousness.

-Both hemispheres are involved in almost all mental processes, and certainly in all mental states: information is constantly conveyed between the hemispheres, and may be transmitted in either direction several times a second.

-I would resist the simplistic idea of a (left or right) hemisphere personality overall, there is evidence that for activities, we consistently prefer one hemisphere over the other in ways that may differ between individuals, though over whole populations they tend to cohere

-It has been said that the world is divided into two types of people, those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t. I am with the second group.

-89% of people in the West are broadly right-handed and the vast majority of these have speech and semantic language centers in the left hemisphere

Chapter 1 – Asymmetry and the brain 

-The bigger the brain, the less interconnected it is. Rather than taking the opportunity to increase connectedness, evolution appears to be moving in the opposite direction.

-We do not know if mind depends on matter, because everything we know about matter is itself a mental creation.

-Many animals use left eye (right hemisphere) to look for predators

– the left hemisphere yields narrow, focused attention mainly for the purpose of getting and feeding.

-Empathy, Emotional understanding, and so on – which involve a quite different kind of attention paid to the world, are largely right-hemisphere functions.

Chapter 2 – What do the hemispheres ‘Do’?

-The left hemisphere gains more benefits from a single strong association than several weaker associations, only the right hemisphere can use either equally.

-As the more subordinate categories become more individuated they are recognized by the right hemisphere, while the left hemisphere concerns itself with the more superordinate categories.

-The left hemisphere’s principal concern is utility

-The right hemisphere prioritizes whatever actually is, and what concerns us. It prefers existing things, real scenes and stimuli that can be made sense of in terms of the lived world, whatever it is that has meaning and value for us as human beings.

-The right hemisphere plays an important role in what is known as ‘theory of mind’, a capacity to put oneself in another’s position and see what is going on in that person’s mind.

-When it comes to recognizing emotion whether through language or facial expressions it is on the right hemisphere that we principally rely

-Confabulation is where the brain, not being able to recall something, rather than admit to a gap in its understanding, makes up something plausible, that appears consistent, to fill it. (the left hemisphere’s work)

-The left hemisphere needs certainty and needs to be right

-The right hemisphere makes it possible to hold several ambiguous possibilities in suspension together without premature closure on one outcome

Chapter 3 – Language, Truth And Music 

-Language most likely evolved from music not the other way around

-We make sense of the world, form categories and concepts, weigh and evaluate evidence, make decisions and solve problems, all without language, and without even being consciously aware of the process.

-Any sentient being living in an environment where it needs to defend itself from predators and find enough to eat must be capable of forming concepts and placing things in categories.

-If you don’t have a word you are likely to lose the concept; but a concept can arise without the word, and is therefor not depending on it. So thinking is prior to language.

-Language represents a more fixed version of the world

-Words alone make concepts more stable and available to memory

-Language is good for manipulating human beings

-We can’t easily hide the truth in non-verbal communication, but we can with words

-We can’t easily direct others to carry out our plans without language

-Only the right hemisphere has the capacity to understand metaphor.

-Metaphoric thinking is fundamental to our understanding of the world, because it is the only way in which understanding can reach outside the system of signs to life itself. It is what links language to life.

-Humor is a right hemisphere faculty

-Every word has to lead us out of the web of language to something that only can be pointed to

-Everything has to be expressed in terms of something else

-Even when we do not move, music activates the brain’s motor cortex.

-Everything about human music suggest that its nature is sharing, non-competitive.

-What if it should turn out – and it does – that the left-hemisphere advantage gained by right handedness has been the result, not of an increase of skill in the right hand, but of a deficit in the left?


Chapter 4 – The Nature of the Two Worlds 

-There will always be truths within any system that cannot be proved in terms of that system

-If one had to characterize the left hemisphere by reference to one governing principle it would be that of division

-Manipulation and use require clarity and fixity, and clarity and fixity require separation and division.

-Paradox is a finding what is contrary to received opinion or expectation

-If the process of philosophy is to understand the world, and in reality things are always embedded in a context of relation with other things that alter them, you are not going to succeed in understanding them if you start by taking them out of context.

-It is the rootedness of our thought and language in the body that we share with others which means that despite the fact that all truth is relative, this in no way undermines the possibility of shared truth.

-There is no single truth about anything that exists, does not mean that any version of a thing is valid or that all versions are equally valid.

-The statement that ‘there is no such thing as truth’ is itself a truth statement, and implies that it is truer than its opposite, the statement that ‘truth exists’.

-If we had no concept of truth, we could not state anything at all, and it would even be pointless to act.

-Without death existence would be care-less, would lack the power that draws us to one another and to the world

-Things do not end up ‘filed’ (left hemisphere) or for that mater ‘dwelling’ (right hemisphere) in one or other hemisphere, but are constantly moving back and forth, or, to put it more accurately, aspects of them belong to one hemisphere and aspects to the other, and these aspects are continually coming forward and retreating in a process that is dynamic.
(For example….When you use a hammer it becomes an extension of yourself a sort of merging into oneness (right brain) but when something goes wrong it calls for your inspection (left brain)

-We can never make others understand something unless they already, at some level, understand it.

-Morality can never be a matter of actions or consequences taken out of context

-We judge some things that would out of context be considered weaknesses to be part of what is valuable or attractive in the context of a particular person’s character; we do not not arrive at a judgement on a person by summing the totality of their characteristics or acts, but judge their characteristics or acts by the ‘whole’ that we know to be that person.

-If a left-hemisphere process consistently seems to run up against the limits of its own method and needs to transcend them, that is convincing evidence that the reality it is trying to describe is something Other.

-In a room with a fire, we are drawn to looking at it; in the pre-TV era it was the focus of attention for a social gathering, and it functioned as the TV now does to allow closeness without having to ‘focus’ too explicitly on one another.

-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.

-Conscious knowledge, the knowledge that characterises left-hemisphere understanding, depends on its object being fixed otherwise it cannot be known. Thus it is only its re-presentation in consciousness, after it has already become present to the unconscious mind, that enables us to know something consciously.

-When we shift our gaze where we see another looking, we do so via the right hemisphere

-One cannot believe in nothing and thus avoid belief altogether, simply because one cannot have no disposition towards the world, that being in itself a disposition.

-The disposition of the right hemisphere, the nature of its attention to the world, is one of care, rather than control.

-The left hemisphere is always engaged in a purpose: it always has an end in view, and downgrades whatever has no instrumental purpose in sight. The right hemisphere, by contrast, has no designs on anything. It is vigilant for whatever is, without preconceptions, without a predefined purpose.


Chapter 5 – The Primacy of the Right Hemisphere 

-When a metaphor actually lives in the mind it can generate new thoughts or understanding

-All understanding, whether of the world or even of ourselves, depends on choosing the right metaphor.

-Too much self-awareness destroys not just spontaneity, but the quality that makes things live; the performance of music or dance, of courtship, love and sexual behavior, humor, artistic creation and religious devotion become mechanical, lifeless, and may grind to halt if we are too self-aware.

-Some things, like sleep, simply cannot be willed. The frame of mind required to strive for them is incompatible with the frame of mind that permits them to be experienced.

-Schizophrenia simulates an overactive left-hemisphere state

-We make an intuitive assessment of the whole before any cognitive processes come into play, though they will, no doubt, later be used to ‘explain’, and justify, our choice. (The primacy of Affect)

-The processing of pre-conscious information, tends to be carried out by the right hemisphere

-Conscious processing tends to go on in the left hemisphere

-The right hemisphere experience material that the left hemisphere cannot be aware of

-There is a predominance in right hemisphere while dreaming

-Gestures slightly anticipate speech

-People who have lost significant right-hemisphere function experience a world from which meaning has been drained

-The right hemisphere permits a living world to come into being, and it is from this that the re-presented world of the left hemisphere is derived

-The left hemisphere prioritizes the system regardless of experience: it stays within the system of signs.

-The right hemisphere prioritizes what it learns from experience: the real state of existing things ‘out there’.

-What begins in the right hemisphere’s world is ‘sent’ to the left hemisphere’s world for processing, but must be ‘returned’ to the world of the right hemisphere where a new synthesis can be made.

-The primary function of the corpus callosum is to act as a filter on transmission between the hemispheres

-It is the faculty of imagination which comes into being between the two hemispheres, which enables us to take things back from the world of the left hemisphere and make them live again in the right.-The right hemisphere needs the left hemisphere in order to be able to ‘unpack’ experience.

-The left hemisphere knows things the right hemisphere does not know, just as the right knows things of which the left hemisphere is ignorant

-It is equally fatal for the mind to have a system and to have none.

-In order to obtain adequate notions of any truth, we must intellectually separate its distinguishable parts; and this is the technical process of philosophy. But having done so, we must then restore them in our conceptions to the unity in which they actually co-exist; and this is the result of philosophy.

-Hegel, too, held that union and division have themselves to be unified, suggesting the ultimate priority of the principle of union over that of division, despite the necessary part played by division at one stage of the process.


Chapter 6 – The Triumph of the Left Hemisphere

-Our passions, our sense of humor, all metaphoric and symbolic understanding, all religious sense, all imaginative and intuitive processes are denatured by becoming the object of focused attention, which renders them explicit, therefore mechanical, lifeless.

-The left hemisphere is competitive, and its concern, its prime motivation, is power.

-The hemispheres have complementary but conflicting tasks to fulfill and need to maintain A high degree of mutual ignorance. At the same time, they need to co-operate.

-Split brain patients will often find that there hands are in conflict and it’s always the left hand that is misbehaving

-Research in schizophrenia, using neuropsychological testing shows a failure in Interhemispheric inhibition

-Independent functioning of the hemisphere is one of the achievements of maturity: children are, relatively speaking, split-brain subjects, with less interhemispheric independence.

-Babies and young children are more reliant on the right hemisphere which develops earlier and it may be that it is the increasing importance of left-hemisphere function with age that necessitates the separation

-We can even have, as personalities, characteristic and consistent biases towards one or other hemisphere, certainly for particular kinds of experience, associated with differing degrees of arousal and activation in either hemisphere.

-When irrelevant distracting information was presented to the favored visual field Those with left hemisphere bias further enhance the favored visual field while downplaying the other visual field. This same effect was not noticed for those with right hemisphere bias.

-The right hemisphere looks out for both hemisphere unlike the left

-The left hemisphere is better able to suppress the right than the right is able to suppress the left

-Too much self-consciouness often results in social phobia… the skills of ordinary social life have to remain intuitive and unconscious to be effective

-It looks as though self-consciousness comes about when the left hemisphere is engaged in inspecting the life of the right

-We are conscious most of the time when carrying our right hemisphere activities but not focused on them therefore we are not conscious of them

-Schizophrenic subjects, whose psychopathology depends on reflexive hyperconsciousness, and who often depict a detached observing eye in their paintings, show a relative hypofunction of the right hemisphere in relation to the left

-The left hemisphere point of view inevitably dominates, because it is most accessible: closest to the self-aware, self-inspecting intellect.

-Language, logic and linearity – are all ultimately under left-hemisphere control

-The left hemisphere is most easily defensible through logic and most easily expressible through language

-The left hemisphere builds systems while the right doesn’t

-It is hard for the right hemisphere to be heard at all: what it knows is too complex, hasn’t the advantage of having been carved up into pieces that can be neatly strung together, and it hasn’t got a voice anyway.

-There can be no evidence within reason that yields the premises from which reason must begin, or that validates the process of reasoning itself – those premises, and the leap of faith in favor of reason, have to come from behind and beyond, from intuition or experience.

-We do not have the power to make things live, we can only either permit life, or not permit it.

-The river does not exists before the encounter. Only water exists before the encounter, and the river actually comes into being in the process of encountering the landscape, with its power to say ‘no’ or not say ‘no’. Similarly there is ‘whatever it is that exists apart from ourselves’, but ‘whatever it is that exists’ only comes to be what it is as it finds out in the encounter with ourselves what it is, and we only find out and make ourselves what we are in our encounter with ‘whatever it is that exists’.

-It is only out of the unity of division and unity that a new unity comes: so unity melds with its opposite and yet becomes more itself. (Transcend and include)

-Although the left hemisphere does not see and cannot understand what the right hemisphere understands, it is expert at pretending that it does, at finding quite plausible, but bogus, explanations for the evidence that does not fit its version of events.

-The left hemisphere is not keen on taking responsibility

Part 2 – How the Brain has Shaped Our World 


Chapter 7 – Imitation and the evolution of culture

-It seems the two hemispheres became more independent of one another’s operations at an early point in the history of the West.

-The situation has its dramatic rewards, but it also more unstable than one on which there is less polarization, and invites divergence from, and subsequent regression towards, the mean position, rather than an enduring equipoise.

-Just as the structure and functioning of the brain has influenced the evolution of culture, the evolution of culture has had its influence on the brain

-imitation is imagination’s most powerful path into whatever is other than ourselves

-Imitation is a marker if empathy: more empathic people mimic the facial expressions if those they are with more than others.

-Imitation gives rise, paradoxically as it may seem, to individuality. That is precisely because the process is not mechanical reproduction, but an imaginative inhabiting of the other, which is always different because of its intersubjective betweenness.

-Imitation is how we acquire skills so the gene for imitation would trump any gene for any individual skill

-The overwhelming importance of mimesis points to the conclusion that we had better select good models to imitate, because as a species, not only as individuals, we will become what we imitate.

-Rationality is reluctant to accept anything lying outside itself since the left hemisphere is unable to accept the existence of anything that lies outside itself.

Chapter 8 – The Ancient World

-During the period between sixth century BC and the Hellenistic period, there is a clear shift of orientation, so that the majority of portraits come to face in the opposite direction, towards the viewer’s left.

-This reveals a distinct shift towards favoring the right hemisphere in the appreciation of the representations of the human face from the sixth century BC onwards.

-Research has confirmed that the left-facing tendency was strongest in the 15th century, and has gradually waned until the 20th century

-The natural tendency, as exhibited by the majority of the face profiles drawn by children, is still to face left, even in some cases if they are copying a model that is facing to the right.

-Initially there was a symmetrical, bihemispheric advance at this time — an advance in the functioning of the frontal lobes of both hemispheres. It is the frontal loves that bring distance (in space) and delay (in time): they enable us to stand back from our world, and from ourselves.

-The first form of written language were Pictograms (visual representations of the thing referred to) and emerged around 3300 BC

-They gradually gave way to ideograms and then to phonograms

-The right hemisphere prefers vertical lines, but the left hemisphere prefers horizontal lines

-In almost every culture writing has begun by being vertical, some, such as the oriental languages, remain vertical: they are also generally read from the top down, and from right to left. In other words, they are read from the maximally  right-hemisphere determined point of view.

-Reading left to right involves moving the eyes toward the right, driven by the left hemisphere, and preferentially communicating what is seen to the left hemisphere.

-Language has so far aligned itself with the left hemisphere that even right hemisphere prone languages such as Hebrew and Arabic are now processed by the left hemisphere

-Writing is a technology and technologies build on themselves

-Gifts are not precise, not calculated, not instantaneously enacted or automatically received, not required; the gifts are not themselves substitutable, but unique; and the emphasis is on the value of creating or maintaining a relationship, which is also unique.

-With trade, all this changes; the essence is competitive: the exchange instantaneous, based on equivalence, and the emphasis not on relationship, but on utility or profit.


Chapter 9 – The Renaissance and the Reformation

-During the Renaissance there was a peak in left-facing (right-hemisphere-favoring) profiles in portraiture.

-All the qualities that are admired in the artist are those that come from the right hemisphere, including the skill that hides itself.

-The renaissance started out with a huge expansion of the right hemisphere’s way of being in the word, into which, initially, the work of the left hemisphere is integrated.

-As the renaissance progresses, there becomes evident, a gradual shift of emphasis from the right hemisphere way of being towards the vision of the left hemisphere, in which a more atomistic individuality characterized  by ambition and competition become more salient; and originality comes to means not creative possibility but the right to ‘free thinking’, the way to throw off the shackles of the past and its traditions, which are no longer seen as an inexhaustible source of wisdom, but as tyrannical, superstitious and irrational – and therefore wrong. This becomes the basis of the hubristic movement which came to be known as the Enlightenment.


Chapter 10 – The Enlightenment

-The value of rationality, as well as whatever premises it may start from, has to be intuited: neither can be derived from rationality itself. All rationality can do is to provide internal consistency once the system is up and running.

-Reason was understood as flexible, resisting fixed formulation, shaped by experience, and involving the whole living being

-Rationality is more rigid, rarified, mechanical, governed by explicit laws – to those of the left.

-The primacy of reason (right hemisphere) is due to the fact that rationality (left hemisphere) is founded on it.

-‘To lose one’s reason’ is the old expression for madness. But an excess of rationality is the grounds of another kind of madness, that of schizophrenia.

-Schizophrenia is not categorized by a romantic disregard for rational thinking and a regression into a more primitive, unself-conscious, emotive realm of the body and the senses, but by an excessively detached, hyper-rational, reflexively self-aware, disembodied and alienated condition.

-The detached hyper-rationality of philosophers is very characteristic of schizophrenics

-Affective non-engagement could be said to be the hallmark of schizophrenia. The sense that the world is merely a representation is very common, part of the inability to trust one’s senses, enhanced by the feeling of unreality that non-engagement brings in its wake — nothing is what it seems. (Note: seems very similar to some levels of spiritual realizations)

-Such an inability to accept the self-evident nature of sensory experience leads to an emptying out of meaning. There is a characteristic combination of omnipotence and impotence, of being all there is  and yet nothing at all, which again follows from the lack of betweenness with what is, with the shared world of common experience.

-The concept of boredom arose in the eighteenth century.

-Where reason respects the implicit, the ambiguous, the unresolved, rationality demands the explicit, the clear and the complete.

-There is an equalizing drive built into the categorizing system. But the categories themselves are arranged in a hierarchical taxonomy, which means that, while the individual variations of living things are flattened out, the differences between categories become where the inequality resides.

-The left hemisphere focuses on differences of utility often ignoring other differences… hence making things and being static unable to see how they are constantly changing

-The left hemisphere misunderstands the importance of implicitness. There is therefore a problem for it, that certain logically desirable goals simply cannot be directly pursued, because direct pursuit changes their nature and they flee from approach (the mere act of pursuing happiness ensures you won’t experience it)

-The left hemisphere is in pursuit of liberty casting off all constraints… the right hemisphere see’s the world as  a living web of interdependencies that require responses, and entail responsibility ….(The idea of Fuck you Money is a left hemisphere phenomenon)

-The left hemisphere has a tendency to reject the physical and retreat into an abstracted, cerebralized world disconnected as far as possible from the demands of the body.  (We are stuck in our heads disconnected from our bodies)

-It has become increasingly obvious to historians and social theorists of the last hundred years that the enlightenment, despite its optimism about itself, was not just a period of uncomplicated progress in human understanding and in society and politics at large. The appeal to reason can lead to sweetness and light, but it can also be used to monitor and control, to constrict and repress, in keeping with my view that the aim of the left hemisphere is power. With time, a dark side to the Enlightenment became too obvious to conceal.

-The further accentuation of the hemisphere difference in the enlightenment, came through the striving for an objective, scientific detachment – independent as far as possible of the confounding effects of whatever is personal or intuitive, or whatever cannot be made explicit and rationally defended – led to an entrenchment of this separation.

-When we reject the possibility of supernatural happenings and pretend to move in a world of common reality the uncanny occurs. It represents the possibility, terrifying to the rational, left-hemisphere mind, that phenomena beyond what we can understand and control may truly exist.

-In the enlightenment, the living was thought to be the sum of its parts: and, if so, its parts could be put together to make the living again. For Romanticism, not only was the living not reducible to the mechanical – the world of the right hemisphere irreducible to that of the left – but even the inanimate world came to be seen as alive, the reintegration of the left hemisphere’s realm into that of the right.

Chapter 11 – Romanticism and the Industrial Revolution

-The right hemisphere is more inclusive, and can equally use what the left hemisphere uses as well as its own preferred approach, whereas the left hemisphere does not have this degree of flexibility or reciprocity.

Chapter 12 – The Modern and Post-Modern Worlds

-When we cease to act, to be involved, spontaneous and intuitive, and instead become passive, disengaged, sef-conscious, and stare in an objective fashion at the world around us, it becomes bizarre, alien, frightening — and curiously similar to the mental world of the schizophrenic.

-For Sass, as for Wittgenstein, there is a close relation between philosophy and madness.

-The philosopher’s ‘predilection  for abstraction and alienation – for detachment from body, world and community’, can produce a type pf seeing and experiencing which is, in a literal sense, pathological.

-The left hemisphere, isolating itself from the ways of the right hemisphere, has lost access to the world beyond words, the world beyond our selves.

-The focus of paranoia is a loss of the normal betweenness – something that should be conveyed from others to myself, is being kept from me.

-Devitalization leads to boredom, and boredom, in turn, to sensationalism. The high stimulus society in which we live is represented through advertising as full of vibrancy and vitality, but as advertisers know only too well, its condition is one of boredom, and the response to boredom.

-Materialists are not people who overvalue, but who undervalue, matter. They only see it in terms of utility and sensation.

-Boredom and anxiety are different manifestations of the same underlying condition.

-If a culture starts to mimic aspects of right hemisphere deficit, those individuals who have an underlying propensity to over-reliance on the left hemisphere will be less prompted to redress it, and moreover will find it harder to do so.

-Schizophrenia has in fact increased in tandem with industrialization and modernity.

-The form in which schizophrenia exists is more severe and has a clearly worse outcome in Western countries; prevalence by country increases in proportion to the degree that the country us ‘:developed’, which in practice means Westernized.

—Descriptions of melancholia, or of manic-depressive (now called bipolar) disorder, are immediately recognizable in accounts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, yet there are no descriptions of schizophrenia.

-After controlling for all confounding factors, mental health is better in rural than non-rural populations and deteriorated in tandem with population density.

-There is a case of a woman who had a long history if anorexia nervosa who had a total and virtually instantaneous recovery after a left-hemisphere stroke. After the stroke she reported “I have no feelings of guilt. I no longer count calories. I am relaxed about eating/around food. I can eat out in restaurants now.”

-Autistic children often fail to develop the first-person perspective and speak of themselves as ‘he’ or ‘she’); an inability to engage in eye contact or mutually directed gaze; and an obsession with detail. All these features will be recognized as signs of left hemisphere predominance.

-People with schizoid or schizotypal traits will be attracted to, and be deemed especially suitable for, employment in the areas of science, technology and administration which have, during the last hundred years, been immensely influential in shaping the world we live in, and are, if anything even more important today.

-A culture with prominent ‘schizoid’ characteristics attracts to positions of influence individuals who help it even further down the same path.

-Abstract painting favors left-hemisphere processing

-Minimalism emphasizes the simple forms that are preferred by the left hemisphere.

-Post-modernistic stance: If reality is a construct without any objective existence, and if words have no referent, we are all absolutely impotent to say or do anything that has meaning

-Why would any solipsist write? The attempt to convince another of one’s point of view explodes the solipsist’s position.

-Scientific materialism, despite its apparent opposition to the post-modernist stance, shows similar left-hemisphere origins. They share a sense of superiority, born of the conviction that others are taken in by illusions, to which those in the know have the explanation.

Conclusion – The Master Betrayed

-In human affairs, increasing the amount of extent of something, or the speed with which something happens, or the inflexible precision with which it is conceived or applied, can actually destroy.

-Considerations of quantity might come actually to replace considerations of quality altogether, and without the majority of people being aware that anything had happened.

-Individualities ironed out and identification would be by categories: socioeconomic groups, races, sexes, and so on, which would also feel themselves to be implicitly or explicitly in competition with, resentful of, one another.

-Paranoia and lack of trust would come to be the pervading stance within a society both between individuals, and between such groups, and would be the stance of government towards its people.

-In such a society people of all kinds would attach an Unusual importance to being in control.

-In the Renaissance, as in the 19th century, when the right hemisphere was in the ascendant, death was omnipresent in life and literature, was openly spoken of, and was seen as part of the fabric of life itself, in recognition of which alone life could have meaning.

-According to the left-hemisphere view, death is the ultimate challenge to its sense of control, and, on the contrary, robs life of meaning. it would therefore have to become a taboo.

-While, at the same time sex, the power of which the right hemisphere realizes is based on the implicit, would become explicit and omnipresent.

-There would be a preoccupation, even an obsession, with certainty and security, since the left hemisphere is highly intolerant of uncertainty, and death would become the ultimate unspeakable.

-There would be a complete failure of common sense since it it is intuitive and requires both hemispheres

-Anger and aggression would become more evident in our social interactions

-Would be a rise in intolerance and inflexibility, an unwillingness to change track or change one’s mind

-Lack of will-power in the sense of self-control and self-motivatiob, but not of will in the sense of acquisitive greed and desire to manipulate

-an undercutting of wonder and awe…A disenchantment of the world

-Hard to discern value and meaning in life would lead to boredom and a craving for novelty and stimulation.

-Is a greater capacity to control and manipulate the world for our benefit leading to greater happiness? If not, it is hard indeed to see what its justification could be.

-Over the last 25 years levels of satisfaction with life have actually declined in the US, a period  during which there has been an enormous increase in prosperity.

-In 1955 in the US, 44% of workers enjoyed their working hours more than anything else by 1999 only 16% did.

-Happiness is predicted best by the breadth and depth of one’s social connections.

-Everything about the body, which in neuropsychological terms is more closely related to and mediated by the right hemisphere than the left, makes it a natural enemy of the left hemisphere

-When we decide not to worship divinity, we do not stop worshipping: we merely find something else less worthy to worship.

-We are not given the option not to choose one, and the myth we choose is important: in the absence of anything better, we revert to the metaphor or myth of the machine.

-What ultimately united the three realms of escape from the left hemisphere’s world which it has attacked in our time — the body, the spirit and art – is that they are all vehicles of love.

-No straight lines are found in the natural world

-Understanding the nature of the problem has to be the first step towards change.

-Oriental culture’s experience is still effectively grounded in that of the right hemisphere

-The need for positive self-regard, as it is currently conceptualized, is not a universal, but rooted in significant aspects of North American culture.

-People in the West characteristically over-estimate their abilities, exaggerate their capacity to control essentially uncontrollable events, and hold over-optimistic views of the future. In fact, so much does our happiness depend on such illusions, that, in the West, lacking them is even correlated with psychiatric problems.

-The espousal of unrealistic expectations in the absence if a readiness to make sacrifices may be one of the most significant factors in escalating rates of depression in developed and developing countries.

-The only certainty, it seems to me, is that those who believe they are certainly right are certainly wrong.

-Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solev