25 February 2011

Metaphor and model

Language processes things serially while vision processes things contextually but metaphor is linguistic and it functions like the visual. 
So metaphor and model are both left brain-centric. 
Metaphor allows the left brain contextually to experience quality while model allows the left brain contextually to experience quantity. 

The two different hemispheres of the brain pay attention in different ways.

From all stances

The bi-hemispheric structure of the brain is the root of the action of the dialectic in the world. 
The reason we need to understand how things work in alternating sequence is because our brains require that alternation for them to be able to see things as whole, from all sides, which is to say, from all stances. 

The fellow and the adversary

To love your fellow as yourself does not mean to love your co-member of the nation, it means to love your complement as yourself. 
To love the stranger, likewise, means more than to love the immigrant or the resident alien, it means to love your adversary as yourself. 
Both the fellow and the adversary are the 'others' to your own way of thinking and of apprehending the world. 

The source of hubris

"... the left hemisphere is ultimately dependent on, one might almost say parasitic on, the right, though it seems to have no awareness of this fact. Indeed it is filled with an alarming self-confidence. ... [I]t is as if the left hemisphere, which creates a sort of self-reflexive virtual world, has blocked off the available exits, the ways out of the hall of mirrors, into a reality which the right hemisphere could enable us to understand. In the past, this tendency was counterbalanced by forces from outside the enclosed system of the self-conscious mind; apart from the history incarnated in our culture, and the natural world itself, from both of which we are increasingly alienated, these were principally the embodied nature of our existence, the arts and religion. In our time each of these has been subverted and the routes of escape from the virtual world have been closed off. An increasingly mechanistic, fragmented, decontextualized world, marked by unwarranted optimism mixed with paranoia and a feeling of emptiness, has come about, reflecting, I believe, the unopposed action of a dysfunctional left hemisphere." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 6).
 Here is the source of hubris

A metaphor of the world

In the structure of the brain we can locate the functions of the mind; out of the functions of the mind we can assemble meaning; and in the organization of meaning we can perceive culture. 
Culture evolved as the spearhead of civilization, which shapes the drives that define the higher functions of the human species. Those drives are what political/economic and moral systems are meant to channel into productive and co-operative activities. 
If the brain is a metaphor of the world, it is so insofar as the brain contains the makings of how we sense and shape our environments. 

Fine calibration of function

The alternation of dialectical states creates a dynamic stablity by the use of 'opponent processors.' 
Opponent processors allow for the fine calibration of function. The brain is made up of three opponent processors: 
  1. the 'up/down' inhibiting effects of the cortex on the more basic automatic responses of the subcortical regions; 
  2. the 'front/back' inhibiting effect of the frontal lobes on the posterior cortex; and 
  3. the 'right/left' influence of the two hemispheres on each other. (See The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 9). 
  1. The up/down opponents superimpose consciousness onto an unconscious life form; 
  2. the front/back opponents superimpose the human faculty on the animal impulses; and 
  3. the right/left opponents pass back and forth the formation of self-understanding. 

Instructions are indicators

The difference between a command and an instruction is the difference between a rule and a bias. 
Commands are rules. They leave room for little variance. 
Instructions are indicators. They are suggestions about how best to do something but they do not preclude someone finding a way that works better for them. 

Assymetry has its own appeal

We tend to favor symmetry. 
We like to think of symmetry as simple, efficient, balanced, beautiful. Symmetry corresponds to mathematical elegance. 
Assymetry however has its own appeal. In assymetry we can find the dialectic, and thus the engine of change, precision, growth. 
Symmetry tends toward the static whereas assymetry tends to the dynamic, to changes over time. 

An alternating unity

The corpus callosum links the two hemispheres through 
"300-800 million fibres connecting topologically similar areas in either hemisphere. Yet only 2 per cent of cortical neurones are connected by this tract. What is more, the main purpose of a large number of these connections is actually to inhibit – in other words to stop the other hemisphere interfering." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 17). 
The Aharonic kehuna differs from the first-born kehuna in this bi-directional, inhibitory function. 
Inhibition at the neuronal level does not necessarily lead to functional inhibition. You can take your foot off the gas pedal and the car still moves forward in a functionally permissive fashion. 
The corpus callosum however seems to operate in order for one hemisphere to inhibit the other. Both sides can't be working at the same time. After an initial arousal in the contralateral hemisphere, excitation on one side of the brain is accompanied by a subsequent inhibition of the corresponding regions on the other side of the brain. The connecting channel stays open all the time but it serves alternately to shut down one or the other side of the redundancy. 
The function of the corpus callosum is to render the hemispheres not into a single unity but into an alternating unity. Like covenantal partners who are so dissimilar they can consume each other's wastes, the unity of the two hemispheres is based on an alternation rather than on an integration. 
For any dialogue to be possible the other person must be quiet while the first person is speaking. The difference between war and sport is that in war both sides go on the offense at the same time while in sport the offensive and defensive teams alternate under the rules of the game and under the referee's signal. Who will give and who will receive is something the referee settles at the beginning of the game and then the rules determine the order from then on. 
Gift receiving is as much a sign of affection as gift giving, if not sometimes more. 
Self-inhibition so that the other can come forth and take charge is a sign of diplomacy and a courtesy that bespeaks a certain decorum. 

The what and the how

The left hemisphere experiences the whatness of things. It thus measures and evaluates quantitatively. The right hemisphere experiences the howness of things. It thus measures and evaluates qualitatively. 
The confusion between the what and the how gives rise to so many errors in explanation although not so much errors in experience. 
The distinction between the brain and the mind is something the right hemisphere can grasp more easily than the left because the distinction between the brain and the mind is not one that readily resides in the what of the thing but in the how. The brain and mind occupy the same whatness but operate in different hownesses. All living things have whats and hows. The brain/mind is special because the howness is so basic to the functioning of the what that it doesn't make sense to speak of them as distinct matters, as would be more reasonable were were talking about the pancreas, for example. 
When a society moves from scarcity to abundance it moves from experiencing the material world as whats into experiencing the material world as hows. 
God is important not as a what but as a how. That is why God and the non-material are more easily understood by the right hemisphere and not so easily understood by the left. 

An animal with a spiritual dimension

"The defining features of the human condition can all be traced to our ability to stand back from the world, from our selves and from the immediacy of experience. This enables us to plan, to think flexibly and inventively, and, in brief, to take control of the world around us rather than simply respond to it passively. This distance, this ability to rise above the world in which we live, has been made possible by the evolution of the frontal lobes." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 21). 
"The frontal lobes not only teach us to betray, but to trust. Through them we learn to take another's perspective and to control our own immediate needs and desires. If this necessary distance is midwife to the world of Machiavelli, it also delivers the world of Erasmus. The evolution of the frontal lobes prepares us at the same time to be exploiters of the world and of one another, and to be citizens one with another and guardians of the world. If it has made us the most powerful and destructive of animals, it has also turned us, famously, into the 'social animal', and into an animal with a spiritual dimension." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 22). 

Part and parcel

The bi-hemispheres manage how in our modes of attention people are simultaneously both part and parcel. 
People are parts of greater wholes while at the same time they are wholes and parcels of lesser parts. The right hemisphere manages people as parts of larger wholes, while the left hemisphere manages people as parcels who are in charge of the lesser parts. 
The right hemisphere manages people’s wide open attention and their peripheral vision; the left hemisphere manages their narrow focus attention and their acute vision. 

Attention is the prism

  • Attention defines the color of our perceptions. 
  • How we attend to things is prior to our sensation of them. 
  • Attention is the medium of meaning in our senses. 
  • Attention is to sensation as mind is to brain. 
  • The view that pretends to objectivity, the 'scientific' mode of attention, strips away the meaning and replaces it with detachment. That mode is the novice’s view. 
  • The expert has built up a storehouse of meanings in his apprehension of 'the facts.' 
  • We bring meaning into the perception of things, and we thereby add a creative ingredient into how we apprehend both the world as well as how we apprehend ourselves. 
  • Meaning is inescapably value-laden. 
  • Meaning is evaluative in that it shapes our attention to a thing, and thus shapes our relation to the thing. 
The question is how is meaning tied to desert? Both meaning and desert involve the action of some creative element. The question is how does creativity relate to meaning-generation and how to desert-generation? 
It could be meaning and desert are complements. Meaning is the personal experience of what the general society experiences as desert. 
Attention is the way in which we perceive. With our left hemisphere we attend with respect to utility; with our right hemisphere we attend with respect to how we are connected to the thing and how we can serve the thing in stewardship. 
Attention is the prism through which we 
"bring into being a world and, with it, depending on its nature, a set of values." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 29). 

Joining in the fluxity

Cognitively to know a thing is to fix it, and by fixing it to remove the life from it. 
Experientially to know a thing is to join in its fluxity, and by joining in the fluxity to remove the objective distance that would allow us to manipulate it, make it useful, and exercise power over it.  

Pre-reflective frame of mind

When we experience the world pre-reflectively we do not, in a sense, view it at all or divide it up into bits, we experience it rather in its betweenness.  
In that pre-reflective frame of mind we are not thinking about the world so much as we are experiencing the world as a way of being in it. 

The meaning of the data

The world is not present to people’s minds so much as it is re-presented to them as a virtual image. 
That virtual character of representation is what allows people to know things as meaningful. It is not the data about the world that makes it useful so much as the meaning of the data, and the meaning has more to do with prior learning and with the storehouse of experience people bring to their representations. 
Meaning comes from the feelings and beliefs people have built up about the sorts of things they are apprehending and representing to themselves. 
As animals alter their environment to make it more congenial and home-like so the mind alters its perceptions of the world by introducing meaning into the way people know things to make the world more ready to hand than it would otherwise be. 

Five styles of attention

Five styles of attention: 
  1. vigilance, 
  2. sustained attention, 
  3. alertness, 
  4. focused attention, 
  5. divided attention. 
Vigilance and sustained attention are similar, and together with alertness comprise the intensity axis of attention, associated with the right hemisphere; focused and divided attention comprise the selectivity axis of attention. 
Focused attention is lodged in the left hemisphere. 
Divided attention belongs to both hemispheres, with the right hemisphere more dominant. 
Intensity is a dimension of wakefulness: 
  1. alertness makes us responsive to the world; 
  2. sustained attention makes the world continuous and unfragmented; 
  3. vigilance opens us to new and unfamiliar inputs. 

Novelty & the expected

  • The right hemisphere processes novelty whereas the left deals with what it knows and so the left prioritises the expected. 
  • The right hemisphere is vigilant while the left hemisphere is predictive. 
  • New skills are learned in the right hemisphere and then move to the left hemisphere when they become more well practiced. 
  • The left hemisphere is drawn by its expectations while the right hemisphere works better whenever initial assumptions need to be revised or when there is a need to distinguish old information from new material that may be consistent with it. 
  • The right hemisphere is more capable of a frame shift, which is especially important for flexibility of thought. (Damaged right hemispheres lead to preservation, a pathological inability to respond to changing situations.) 
  • The right frontal cortex "is responsible for inhibiting one's immediate response, and hence for flexibility and set shifting; as well as the power of inhibiting immediate response to environmental stimuli." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 41). 
  • The left hemisphere fits things into an already generated schema whereas the right hemisphere is actively watching for discrepancies and plays the devil's advocate. 
  • The right hemisphere works to keep options open while the left hemisphere takes the single solution that seems best to fit what it knows and latches on to it. 
  • Efforts of will tend to focus attention, and thus efforts of will tend to favor the left hemisphere whereas relaxing the effort to produce something favors the right hemisphere, because it broadens attention and expands the attentional field. 

The rut of the well worn

"Creativity depends on the union of things that are also maintained separately – the precise function of the corpus callosum, both to separate and connect; and interestingly division of the corpus callosum does impair creativity." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; somewhere between page 41 – 50). 
A properly functioning priesthood is the nation's corpus callosum between the divine and the mundane. 
According to that model, if the priesthood ceases to function properly, the nation should lose a substantial measure of its creative capacity. It will find itself stuck in trying the things that worked in the past, unable to dislodge itself from the rut of the well worn. 


The alternation of hemispheres, with their mutually inhibitory activities, starts and ends on the right and invokes the left hemisphere as the meat in the sandwich. 
Right/left/right is how people see the world. 
  1. First people explore and ground their experience in the whole of what is being presented to them; then 
  2. they analyze and narrow the focus so they can act on whatever it is to which the right hemisphere has drawn their attention; and finally 
  3. they take what they've done and they fit it back into the larger whole so that it makes sense once again as a whole. 

The dialectic of how knowledge is constructed

The dialectic between the brain's hemispheres is more fundamental than the one Marx proposed as that of material in the progress of history or the one between the classes of society or between covenantal partners. 
The brain's dialectic is the dialectic of part and parcel, of part and whole; it is the dialectic of how knowledge is constructed. 

To make meaning

To be creative is to make meaning. 
The mind makes meaning out of the raw materials of the sensory input to the brain. The same dynamic is working as the creative agent makes living, meaningful creatures out of the raw materials God provides. 
To deserve is to make something meaningful. 

Following the inner logic

The left hemisphere decontextualizes the outer frame of the matter but is good at following the inner logic. 
Left hemispheres tend, as a result, to be persuaded by the theoretical power of the argument rather than by the experimental or the intuitive, common sense power of the argument. 
"The left hemisphere is the hemisphere of abstraction, which, as the word itself tells us, is the process of wresting things from their context. This, and its related capacity to categorise things once they have been abstracted, are the foundations of its intellectual power" (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 50). 

Concrete meanings & spiritual meanings

The explicit, abstract, unchanging elements of things gets processed in the left hemisphere; the implicit, contextual, ever fluid relations of things gets processed by the right hemisphere. 
The left hemisphere captures and deals with the essences; the right hemisphere, with the souls. 
The left hemisphere deals with the concrete meanings; the right hemisphere deals with the spiritual meanings.

Types & individuals

The left hemisphere remembers types, the right hemisphere remembers individuals. 
By the time the accidental has been stripped away to leave only the essential, much of the individuality is gone. That individuality lodges in the messy soul rather than the pristine essence. Because it is accidental and therefore not essential what makes someone or something an individual feels frivolous or arbitrary. The soul, however, comprehends all that and integrates it into a unique individual whose qualities and characteristics are appreciated by the right hemisphere. 
The left hemisphere classifies into broader categories. The more broad the category, the more likely it will be it is the left hemisphere that is doing the processing. As the categories move from super-ordinate to sub-ordinate and thus more individuated, the likely locus of cognitive processing moves toward the right hemisphere. In the limiting case where the brain is dealing with something that has not yet been classified and so, as yet, belongs to no category at all, the right hemisphere is the one that handles all such anomalies. 

Categorical feature & exemplary feature

The left hemisphere identifies things as members of a category while the right hemisphere does so by situating them as similar to some ideal exemplar. 
The category is defined in terms of the components that define the type whereas the exemplar is defined in terms of the whole of the representative individual. 
The categorical feature that defines the type tends to the theoretical and the invariant; the exemplary feature that defines the ideal individual tends to the experimental and the variable real world experience. 

Through the lens of the personal

The right hemisphere sees things through the lens of the personal while the left hemisphere sees things impersonally, in the abstract. 
The right hemisphere relates the person to whatever it knows whereas the left hemisphere comprehends what it knows in terms of how the thing is constituted and how it can be used. 

Namely nature

Food is a thing that is also a part of oneself and so belongs both to the empathic, right hemisphere side of knowledge as well as to the abstract, left hemisphere side. Musical instruments also are part of what gets processed by the right hemisphere. That's probably why the heart is on the left side of the body: it is managed by the right side of the brain. 
Things that have utility, tools that can be employed, get coded into the left hemisphere. Words, language and man-made concepts are man-made and belong to the left hemisphere. 
"... the affinity of the left hemisphere for everything it has itself made ("fruits of human invention") in contrast to the affinity of the right hemisphere for what exists before and after – and beyond – ourselves, namely nature." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 56). 
The more habituated and predictable something becomes the more likely it will be processed by the left hemisphere where things that are lifeless are dealt with. 

Found in the environment

The right hemisphere relates to what concretely is found in the environment whereas the left hemisphere relates to fantastical images that tend to have an artificial feel about them. 

Sandness & anger

Humor is impersonal emotion. To have a sense of humor is to have the sort of equipment that allows one to be empathic. 
All emotions are right hemispheric except for anger, which is centered in the left hemisphere. 
Sadness seems to be the right hemisphere's way of responding when the left would have gotten angry. 

Explicit & unconscious emotional processing

"A study on conscious and unconscious processing of emotional facial expression has suggested that the left but not the right amygdala is associated with explicit representational content of the observed emotion, whereas the right amygdala is more closely involved with unconscious emotional processing." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 62). 

Bonding & rivalry

"It seems to me a possibility that those emotions which are related to bonding and empathy, whether we call them 'positive' or 'negative', are preferentially treated by the right hemisphere, as one would expect: such stimuli capture right-hemisphere attention. By the same token, those to do with competition, rivalry and individual self-belief, positive or negative, would be preferentially treated by the left hemisphere." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 63). 

Intuitive rather than rigorous

"Problem solving, making reasonable assumptions may become harder if we become conscious of the process. Thus rendering one's thought processes explicit, or analysing a judgment, may actually impair performance, because it encourages the left hemisphere's focus on the explicit, superficial structure of the problem." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 65). 
"It is worth considering that numbers can either signify absolutes – a quantifuable amount, as in statistics – which would suggest an affinity with the left hemisphere, or signify relations, which would suggest an affinity with the right hemisphere. For Pythagoras, it was this regularity of proportion or relationship, rather than number in any absolute sense, that underpinned music and beauty – the music of the spheres, the natural harmony of the universe." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 66). 
Imprecise estimates of size are matters of relation, not precision. They are intuitive rather than rigorous; organic, not mechanical. 

As a corpse

The left hemisphere sees its own body as a corpse. It is a detached object, not unlike all other objects in the world. 
The right hemisphere sees the body as itself, unique and distinct from all other things in the world. 
When we squeeze the life out of some system what we are really doing is forcing the left hemisphere to replace the right hemisphere's way of apprehending and guiding what's going on. 

Terror drives to the literal

The right hemisphere puts together the holistic meaning of language. The implication of what is said is understood by the right hemisphere. The left hemisphere understands the literal meaning. 
Fundamentalists as well as documentary hypothesists both take the Bible too literally. They bleach out the implicature. They treat the text like parts of a machine rather than as a unified narrative driving toward some ultimate point. 
The IDF views the Arab war against Israel in literal terms; the Saudis view it in symbolic terms where the narrative dominates the meaning of the actual events. 
Terror drives to the literal and away from the symbolic. Fear pushes away from the right hemisphere and toward the left. 


"It is the relations between things, more than entities in isolation, that are of primary importance to the right hemisphere. Music consists entirely of relations, 'betweenness'. The notes mean nothing in themselves: the tensions between the notes, and between notes and the silence with which they live in reciprocal endebtedness, are everything. Melody, harmony and rhythm each lie in the gaps, and yet the betweenness is only what it is because of the notes themselves. Actually the music is not just in the gaps any more than it is just in the notes: it is in the whole that the notes and the silence make together. Each note becomes transformed by the context in which it lies. What we mean by music is not just any agglomeration of notes, but one in which the whole created is powerful enough to make each note live in a new way, a way that it had never done before. Similarly poetry cannot be just any arrangement of words, but one in which each word is taken into the new whole and made to live again in a new way, carrying us back to the world of experience, to life: poetry constitutes a 'speaking silence'. Music and poetic language are both part of the world that is delivered by the right hemisphere, the world characterized by betweenness. Perhaps it is not, after all, so wide of the make to call the right hemisphere the 'silent' hemisphere: its utterances are implicit." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 72). 

Alive and immediate

The dialogue creates the whole. It is in the alternation of the expressions, in the gaps and the silences, that the meaning comes together. 
Political/economic systems should be built to rely on the wholeness. A society that knows itself as whole is what we call paradise. 
Wholeness is known carnally as an experience. That's what gives it its sense of aliveness and immediacy. 
A society that demands of itself not just the minimum that can be delivered but rather a full-bodied, robust cultivation of a complex esthetic experience of its members' relationship to their society, such a society creates a sense of wholeness. Such a society builds itself around the experience of God within its midst. Such an experience of God is not as another object of reverence but rather as integrated into the very fiber of its political/economic system. 
God is alive in such a society as a covenantal partner because the society is alive in its own self-understanding of who and what it can be and because the society is focused on what it is capable of accomplishing. 

Through the lens of abundance & scarcity

Optimism means relating to one's environment through the lens of abundance; pessimism means relating to one's environment through the lens of scarcity. 
Both prophecies are self-fulfilling. 

To build for paradise

Paradise is a setting that is alive with the wholeness of being. 
To strive to build a paradise in this world is to overcome the pessimism that defines utopia as impossible. 
To build for paradise is to inhabit the world of possibility that comes from expecting abundance; to adopt the 'realism' of utopia-as-unattainable is to presume scarcity. 

When the entire whole becomes visible

The chiasm is a literary structure that comes into focus when the entire whole becomes visible. 
It is non-linear and, so, right-hemispheric. 

Vital forces

Vital forces in society come from the cultural role of God. 
In a secular society the culture tends toward the mechanical. 

Maintaining ambiguity

An appetite for certainty is the flip side of an aversion to ambiguity. 
The left hemisphere likes certainty and tends to rush its conclusions, often in the face of countervailing evidence. 
The right hemisphere maintains ambiguity and works to countermand the left hemisphere's rush to imposing a fixed rule on the understanding of a situation. 

Winning and losing

Realistic self-assessment corresponds to being prone to depression. 
Left hemisphere-type brains are not prone to depression but tend to over-estimate their own capacities and tend to be surprised by their failure. 
When a person wins it registers on the left hemisphere, when a person loses it registers on the right. 

Indifference and insulation

Caring and contentment cannot be measured in terms only of pleasure and welfare. To care is to be open to suffering and pain, if not for one's own circumstances, then for the circumstances of those about whom we care. 
"Intrinsically caring for another essentially involves a certain disposition, the disposition to experience sorrow at the other's serious misfortune ... To be just is to be disturbed by injustice. Pain, suffering, and the loss of pleasure, then, sometimes constitute who we are and what we value. They are essentially woven into our deepest commitments. As reasons flow from our deepest commitments, we will sometimes have non-instrumental reason to suffer." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 85). 
When Pharaoh becomes indifferent to the circumstances of his people, Pharaoh is moving away from his position as a caring leader. Indifference and insulation are mechanical postures; they are left-hemispheric ways of being in the world. 

Empathy is instrinsic to morality

"Moral values are not something that we work out rationally on the principle of utility, or any other principle, for that matter, but are irreducible aspects of the phenomenal world, like colour. ... moral value is a form of experience irreducible to any other kind, or accountable for on any other terms; and ... this perception underlies Kant's derivation of God from the existence of moral values more rather than moral values from the existence of a God. Such values are linked to the capacity for empathy, not reasoning; and moral judgments are not deliberative, but unconscious and intuitive, deeply bound up with our emotional sensitivity to others. Empathy is instrinsic to morality." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 86). 

Self control

The power to resist temptation and the power to exercise self control comes from our ability to inhibit our selfish impulses. 
Myopia and selfishness, which are the bedrock character traits of market welfare maximization, correspond to the weakness in character we see in those who cannot resist temptation and those who cannot exercise self control. 

Addiction & denial

The right hemisphere tends to function through negative feedback whereas the left hemisphere tends to operate through positive feedback. So the left hemisphere often gets itself stuck while the right hemisphere can kick the person out of the rut and into a different place. 
Addiction corresponds to the left hemisphere, as does denial. 

Autobiographical self & self as expression of will

The autobiographical self that defines itself in relation to others is a right hemisphere skill. The self as an expression of will is a left hemisphere sort of self-understanding. 
The right hemisphere knows the autobiographical self implicitly and intuitively, which allows us to see ourselves transparently, through our fascination with our actions in the world. When, as philosophers, we try to analyze our senses of our selves that self begins to fall apart and disintegrate. 
The conscious will, the ability to focus oneself and take action is the responsibility of the left hemisphere. 


"I believe the essential difference between the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere is that the right hemisphere pays attention to the Other, whatever it is that exists apart from ourselves, with which it sees itself in profound relation. It is deeply attracted to, and given life by, the relationship, the betweenness, that exists with this Other. By contrast, the left hemisphere pays attention to the virtual world that it has created, which is self-consistent, but self-contained, ultimately disconnected from the Other, making it powerful, but ultimately only able to operate on, and to know, itself." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 93). 
As the frontal lobes operate to oppose, inhibit and modulate the more instinctive impulses of each of the hemispheres so the culture and the social institutional milieu in which human society plays itself out operates to elaborate and extend the experiences of each of the hemispheres. 
As media are extensions of the senses so religions are extensions of the Otherness, and so states are extensions of the virtualness. The political/ideological left mistakenly believes the institutions of the state can and should be harnessed to the needs and impulses of recognizing the Other while the political/ideological right mistakenly believes the institutions of the church can and should be harnessed to the needs and impulses of collective glory. Both these political/ideological orientations are simplistic and primitive. 
The Bible offers a more evolved, more advanced, more nuanced and more subtle version of how it is the collective, social, institutional, cultural milieu ought to interact with the various experiential modes of each side of the human brain.  

The implementation of deservedness

Mutual aid means one side appreciates the enhancements the other side can bring to one's own side's functioning. 
Mutual aid is the implementation of deservedness. 
Stewardship is the co-operation of one style of administration with another. Adopting an evaluative system that recognizes the contribution of one style in the context of the leadership of the other style allows for stewardship. 
The objective is not so much to get clear on how the present system or the opposing ideology is wrong. First we must clarify what it looks like for paradise to be working. 

24 February 2011

Direct to our unconscious

Left hemisphere knowledge revolves around facts that are fixed insofar as they do not change with the context, and they are repeatable so they do not vary in unpredictable ways. 
Things that do not vary in unpredictable ways are not alive. They are inert. The left hemisphere knows things in terms of their inertia. The right hemisphere knows in the carnal sense of a direct experience of another. 
"It is important to recognise that music does not symbolize emotional meaning, which would require that it be interpreted; it metamorphoses it – 'carries it over' direct to our unconscious minds. Equally it does not symbolize human qualities: it conveys them direct, so that it acts on us, and we respond to it, as in a human encounter. In other words, knowing a piece of music, like knowing other works of art, is a matter of kennenlernen." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 96). 
To know another through the right hemisphere is for them to be familiar, as in belonging to the family; to know a thing through the left hemisphere is to pin it down so it is repeatable, routine, inauthentic (in the sense of not engendering that which would ascribe authorship), lacking the spark of life. 

The choice of metaphor

Our knowing ages. It goes from encountering something new to comprehending it as old. 
We perceive by registering the changes or differences that strike our senses. 
"... our sensory nerves quickly 'fatigue', and we become accustomed, for example, to a smell, or to a sound. ... that knowledge comes from distinctions, implies that we come to an understanding of the nature of any one thing, whatever it might be, only by comparison with something we already know, and by observing the similarities and differences. ... If it is the case that our understanding is an effect of the metaphors we choose, it is also true that it is a cause: our understanding itself guides the choice of metaphor by which we understand it." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 97).
 To know another is to be in constant relationship with them and to be constantly shifting our understanding of who they are and who we are in relationship with each other because we only see, in a sense, what moves, what changes. The left hemisphere only sees what is stable and immobile. 

The remedy for pilpul

If music is a more primal form of communication than speech, then the structure of the Bible might be a more primal medium for conveying the sense of the teachings. 
The narrative structure and the chiastic structure, the 'oral' structure of the text might well carry a whole layer of meaning that a linear analysis of the text would not convey. Certainly the super-analysis of the text the Talmud employs serves entirely to destroy the music of the teachings. 
When we once again become a musical people bound together in common appreciation of musical rhythms and tones we will also be able to appreciate the music of the teachings. That is the remedy for too much Talmudic pilpul
In paradise people sit together and sing and play musical instruments. Much of the musical ingredients of language was lost when we went to the written word. Some tone and rhythm could still be retained but for the most part the written word lacks the depth of the spoken word. 

It is easier to lie using words than using music

Music communicates more directly

Words communicate about things, music communicates more directly the thing itself. 

To hold the world fixed and in focus

Some say the human faculty of language derived from the right hand's ability to grasp things. 
Could that be what Scripture had in mind when it spoke about the Old One's taking the Children of Israel out of Egypt with a grasping hand, a yad chazaqah
Mirror neurons are situated in the brain close to the area where the right hand's grasping is governed, which, in turn, is close to the area that controls speech. We mimic the articulation of either hand gestures or language. The way we know by grasping and holding and touching resembles the way the left hemisphere knows things. Touch communicates the thing a piece at a time and never the whole all at once, it communicates the type of thing rather than the individual, it pins the thing down and allows for fixity and certainty and the ability to manipulate (literally, to take a handful) and to dominate by the expression of will. To manipulate is the treat something as an object. The left hemisphere objectifies so that it can manipulate. 
"Language in summary brings precision and fixity, two very important features if we are to succeed in manipulating the world. ... We can't easily direct others to carry out our plans without language. We can't act at a distance without language. Language, it would seem, starts out with what looks like imperial aspirations." (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 114). 
The imperialism that comes with language manifests most directly in the hubris Man feels before the divine as Man acquires the skills of technology. God defeats that hubris by confounding Man's language. Bureaucratese is mechanical speech. It undermines Man's ability to create true solidarity. 
Man shapes his environment with his right hand, which is to say, with his left hemisphere. He does so through the abstraction and virtualization of language which allows Man to hold the world fixed and in focus as he manipulates it to his design. 
God shapes the people of Israel with His right hand as a counter-weight to Man's hubristic impulses. The Old One shapes the Israelites' political/economic system into one that would serve as an antidote to Man's dangerous impulse to dominate the environment into collapse. 

Music is collective

Music is collective. It shades into the gestures of dance. 
Dance and music are infectious and non-purposive. Their utility is not clearly manifest. 
"When language began to shift hemispheres, and separate itself from music, to become the referential, verbal medium that we now recognise by the term, it aligned itself with a different sort of gesture, that of grasp, which is, by contrast, individualistic and purposive, and became limited to one modality. " (The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist, 2009; page 119).