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93 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterly achievement, 15 Nov 2009
This review is from: The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (Hardcover)
This is a brilliant and staggeringly erudite book that only Iain McGilchrist could have written. Originally a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, in English literature, he retrained in medicine and has brought together CP Snow's 'two cultures' in a masterly synthesis. McGilchrist overturns the commonly held view of the left hemisphere as dominant, showing conclusively that the right hemisphere is primary but that both are meant to work together. Each has a different but complementary perspective on the world: the right hemisphere apprehends the whole and mediates new experiences, while the left provides focus. The snag is that this narrow focus prefers abstraction to experience and treats living things as mechanisms. This mechanistic metaphor pervades the whole of modern science and indeed economics, with its emphasis on manipulation.

This view tends to dehumanise the world and impose a bureaucratic mentality, from whose excesses we currently suffer as we strive to eliminate all risk in favour of a certainty which does not exist outside mathematics. The second part of the book examines our cultural history in terms of a power struggle between left and right hemispheres, in which the left hemisphere is currently privileged. Here is a new take on the history of Western thought, which will radically reshape your understanding. The book is impressive not just in its scope, but is beautifully written, positively bristling with insights and creative intelligence on every page.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 May 2011 22:15:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 May 2011 22:17:10 BDT
Dr DJ Brown says:
David. Are you the same David Lorimer that is mentioned in Mr McGilchrist's acknowledgements to the book? If so, would it not be reasonable to point-out a conflict of interest?
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