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Iain McGilchrist and his idea's / The Master and His Emissary

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World is a 2009 book written by Iain McGilchrist that deals with the specialist hemispheric functioning of the brain. The differing world views of the right and left brain (the "Master" and "Emissary" in the title, respectively) have, according to the author, shaped Western culture since the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, and the growing conflict between these views has implications for the way the modern world is changing.[1] In part, McGilchrist's book, which is the product of twenty years of research,[2] reviews the evidence of previous related research and theories, and based on this and cultural evidence, the author arrives at his own conclusions.

The Master and His Emissary received mostly favourable reviews upon its publication. Critics praised the book as being a landmark publication that could alter readers' perspective of how they viewed the world; A. C. Grayling, however, commented about the book that "the findings of brain science are nowhere near fine-grained enough yet to support the large psychological and cultural conclusions Iain McGilchrist draws".[2] -wikipedia


Synopsis

The 608-page book is divided into an introduction, two parts and a conclusion. In the introduction, McGilchrist states that "there is, literally, a world of difference between the [brain] hemispheres. Understanding quite what that is has involved a journey through many apparently unrelated areas: not just neurology and psychology, but philosophy, literature and the arts, and even, to some extent, archaeology and anthropology."[6]

Part One: The Divided Brain

Superior-lateral view of the brain, showing left and right hemispheres.

In "The Divided Brain", McGilchrist digests study after study, replacing the popular and superficial notion of the hemispheres as respectively logical and creative in nature with the idea that they pay attention in fundamentally different ways, the left being detail-oriented, the right being whole-oriented. These two modes of perception cascade into wildly different hemispheric personalities, and in fact reflect yet a further asymmetry in their status, that of the right's more immediate relationship with physical bodies (our own as well as others) and external reality as represented by the senses, a relationship that makes it the mediator, the first and last stop, of all experience.

Part Two: How the Brain Has Shaped Our World

In the second part, "How the Brain Has Shaped Our World", the author describes the evolution of Western culture, as influenced by hemispheric brain functioning, from the ancient world, through the Renaissance and Reformation; the Enlightenment; Romanticism and Industrial Revolution; to the modern and postmodern worlds which, to our detriment, are becoming increasingly dominated by the left brain. - wikipedia