The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World Hardcover – 9 Oct 2009
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'...shows convincingly that the degeneracy of the West springs from our failure to manage the binary divisions of our brains.'
--David Cox, Evening Standard Books of the Year, 19th November 2009
`A landmark new book ... it tells a story you need to hear, of where we live now.'
--Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times 'Culture', 29th November 2009
'Few books this year can match this one in breadth of erudition, scope, and ambition ... a highly stimulating read.' --'Best Books of 2009' choice, Barnes & Noble
'A scintillating intelligence.' --The Economist
`This is a very remarkable book...clear, penetrating, lively, thorough and fascinating...splendidly thought-provoking... I couldn't put it down.' --Professor Mary Midgley, The Guardian
'...beautifully written, erudite, fascinating and adventurous...tells us about...rapidly evolving technologies and experimental work in fascinating and lucid detail.'
--Professor AC Grayling, Literary Review
'...beautifully written, erudite, fascinating and adventurous...as if it were an adventure story... Absorbing and fascinating."
--A.C. Grayling, Literary Review, 1st December 2009
`...remarkable... McGilchrist's explanation of such oddities in terms of our divided nature is clear, penetrating, lively, thorough and fascinating.'
--Mary Midgley, Guardian, 2nd January 2010
`...splendidly thought-provoking. And I do have to say that, fat though it is, I couldn't put it down.'
--The London Review Bookshop, London Review of Books, February 2010
`...while the book develops an argument it is also a treasure chest of fascinating detail and memorable quotation.'
--Adam Zeman, Standpoint, 1st March 2010
`Twenty years in the making, this seminal book has been well worth the wait.'
--David Lorimer, Scientific Medical Network, Winter 2010
'McGilchrist is a remarkable person...he writes lucidly...Voices such as McGilchrist are essential.' --Salley Vickers, Daily Telegraph
'McGilchrist writes well, with a direct engaging style...This is a very good book, both informative and erudite.' --Ian Gibbins, Australian Book Review
'McGilchrist...persuasively argues that our society is suffering from an over-dominant left hemisphere losing touch with its natural regulative 'master,' the right.' --Salley Vicker, The Guardian
'McGilchrist, for whom certainty is the greatest of illusions, has produced an absolutely convincing narrative of who we are.' --Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph
'This book is a dazzling achievement...Just as a read, it's an immense pleasure.' --Charles Foster, Contemporary Review
About the Author
Iain McGilchrist is a former Fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford, where he taught literature, before training in medicine. He has an interest in brain research, and now works privately in London, where he was a Consultant and Clinical Director at the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospital.
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Top Customer Reviews
It begins with a survey of research into the left and right brain hemispheres, and looking at how they interact with each other. It looks at brain research and the affect injuries have on people's cognitive, intellectual and artistic abilities, even pointing out how a tumour in the left brain "cured" a case of anorexia nervosa.
Then McGilchrist takes the reader into various human activities relating them to brain hemisphere research. For example he suggests music may be a right hemisphere activity, whilst some aspects of science may be more left hemisphere. Then in second half of the book he looks at how times in history might be seen as dominated by one hemisphere or the other, and suggests our own era may be too dominated by left-hemisphere.
Much of this is speculative, as McGilchrist readily admits several times in the course of the book. Yet he is certainly not uninformed on his subject or in the readings from many sources. Whether brain research is advanced enough, or not, to link the brain hemispheres to human activity, on another level this book is fascinating in the way it relates aspects of human behaviour to each others. It has an ambition and broadness of scope that sometimes seems rare nowadays, and this adds to its fascination.
Right or wrong, this book asks a lot of the right questions.Read more ›
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.
The most fundamental difference between the two hemispheres is that the origin of all experience is in the right half. That experience sees everything in its environment, is holistic, intuitive and profound, but it is unfocussed and indistinct. To focus on the details of the experience, to analyze it, is the task of the left. Ideally the detailed picture then returns to the right half, so that the details become integrated with and enrich the wider picture. The traffic between the two hemispheres is principally via the corpus callosum, the tissues which join them at their base.
The left half uses language precisely; the right can see can see layers of meaning, understands metaphors and jokes. The right is responsible for our personal and social relationship with others, for empathy and empathetic imitation, for picking up the meaning of facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice, for most of our emotional life and for our response to music, poetry, the spiritual dimension of life. It is the locus of moral judgment. It experiences the past, the present and the future as a continuum. The left is instrumental; it organizes, manipulates and controls details for a purpose.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a very great book.
Its only weakness is its polite conclusion.
Yes, Descartes got it wrong. Yes, the people of the East are more chilled, which is great. Read more
This book has already had mountains of praise and I hope it gets much more. It answers so many questions, puts right many misconceptions about how our brain/mind works. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Susan Hannis
This should be widely read, though its great length is off-putting length.Published 4 months ago by jarobelle
A solid academic work that provides a great deal of data about the brain and functions. What causes me to offer a paltry 3 stars is the lack of personal experience that would... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Rex
Changed the way I view the world. Should be required reading for undergraduates.Published 7 months ago by Plebania
This book is a subtle yet forceful challenge to some of our accepted attitudes. With great erudition and originality and drawing deeply from a surprisingly wide range of topics,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by peter moddel
Wonderful - the Western cultures prejudice surrounding the use of left and right hemipheres of the brain, and how we favour one over the otherPublished 8 months ago by Philanthropos
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