Saturday, November 9, 2019

Perspectives on our Left-Brain-Dominated Culture

     Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist painstakingly uncovered how most of us today, swept along by popular culture, are unknowingly left-hemisphere dominant. This has profound effects on every aspect of daily life, and our future.  
     Some aspects of left-hemisphere dominance is generally very useful (science & technology); while others, not so much (conflict, aggression, impatience, loneliness, disorientation, meaninglessness, despair, degradation of the environment, etc). McGilchrist argues for the urgent necessity to re-balance the influence of the two hemispheres:

      From our ancestral right-hemisphere dominance, the pendulum has now swung to the extreme left - "hyper-rationality":
     Hyper-rationality is the unquestioning faith in the efficacy of reason. This is something of an irony, since those who take the hyper-rational approach to reason are violently opposed to "faith" of any sort. They (rightly) condemn "faith" as "irrational," but they then go to the opposite extreme of making reason supreme. In so doing, they inadvertently turn reason into a sort of surrogate god, to whom they must pay homage at all costs ("yet another form of partisanship"). This is rationality carried to the extreme, beyond rational limits, hence the term "hyper-rationality.
     In his book Descartes' Error, Antonio Damasio has amassed an impressive body of neurological evidence to show that at the biological level of brain processing, reason cannot, and does not, function on its own. Emotions are inextricably interwoven into our most 'rational' decisions and thoughts."
       Michael Mendis

      Isn't it entirely reasonable to assume that there's an appropriate 'time & place' ie context for EACH of our ways of perceiving & knowing: logical reasoning, contemplation, intuition, spirituality etc?

     Isn't it optimal to intentionally cultivate, resuscitate & integrate ALL of our powers of perception & knowing, in a balanced, harmonious manner?

      "Contemplation is a third way of knowing – a missing link – that complements & enhances the rational & sensory. The contemplative mind is opened and activated through a wide range of approaches – from pondering to poetry to meditation – that are designed to shift states of mind in order to cultivate such capacities as deepened awareness, concentration and insight. Historically, the contemplative has been used throughout the wisdom traditions as fundamental for developing interiority and understanding the most essential knowledge, yet it is almost entirely absent from contemporary education." 

     Tobin Hart. "From Information to Transformation. Education for the Evolution of Consciousness." Peter Lang, 2009. 

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