Saturday, October 29, 2011
Knowledge of the parts -v- wisdom of the whole
Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist talks here about the differences between the left and right halves of the brain. He shows it's not as simple as we have been led to believe, with a simple division between emotion and reason.
The left hemisphere is used for a narrow focus on something you already know. It leads to a sharp focus on details and to clarity. It lets us manipulate things that are known, fixed, static, isolated and lifeless.
The right hemisphere is more aware of new things and of making connections. It is sustained, open, vigilant and alert and lets us look at a situation that is individual, changing, evolving and interconnected.
Our frontal lobes let us stand back from the immediacy of experience and allow us to empathize. This also allows us to interact with and manipulate the world.
It's not a simple split - the different parts of the brain work together. For imagination and for reason you need both hemispheres. We are offered two version of the world and we combine them in different ways all the time. We need to be able to manipulate the world using the left hemisphere, but to understand the world we need to use the right hemisphere.
Today our pursuit of happiness in fact leads to resentment and unhappiness and mental illness. We want freedom but are now governed by rules that strangle freedom. In today's society we feel the need to govern and control everything. We have more information but are often less able to use and understand it - to be wise.
At the end there is a final statement that I have thought about a lot as a technology teacher. Iain McGilchrist says that today, as technology becomes increasingly important, we prioritize the virtual over the real. I'm not sure about this. What do you think?