Is the primary flaw more in the LH's or RH's operation?

  • Is the primary flaw more in the LH's or RH's operation?

    Posted by Whit Blauvelt on March 25, 2024 at 5:33 pm

    Many of the case studies gathered in McGilchrist’s books are of results of organic dysfunction of the right hemisphere, illustrating the left hemisphere’s operations when left more to its own devices. Yet much of the cultural criticism in his books is a general argument about the left hemisphere going too far, supporting at least an implicit suggestion that the solution — the “what is to be done” — is for the left hemisphere to somehow restrain itself, and vow subservience to “the master.” There may be contradiction there, or at least room for confusion.

    Granting McGilchrist’s hemispheric hypothesis is correct — that our current cultural drift produces behaviors and attitudes resembling the results of left-hemisphere impairment — and given that his thesis is not, in the cultural case, that this impairment is organic, it leaves open the question of whether the “emissary” has taken on a role, as it were, beyond her or his station due to a fault on the emissary’s part, or whether the central fault is that the “master” has (as in the organic brain damage cases) abdicated — or if it’s some of both.

    In the latter chapters of The Matter with Things Iain focuses on nurturing the RH through art, transcendental philosophy, and religion, implying that a relative weakness of the RH, as in the case of organic damage to it, is the case here. What strengthens the RH then counts as the best treatment. This is in tension with the Iroquois myth with which he brilliantly begins the second volume, in which it is the errant Flynt (LH) who is to blame, not poor function of He Who Grasps the Sky (RH) as such.

    So, is the primary cause, in our culture’s case, hypertrophy of RH functioning, or hyperactivity of LH functioning? Granting the later is evident, is the initial problem something in the LH, or is the hyperactivity largely an attempt to compensate for a RH which is lacking, as in the organic brain-damage examples? Is LH hyperactivity the origin, or only a symptom of a degree of RH failure?

    If we’re to cure this, rather than just treat symptoms, accurately diagnosing the origin is key.

    Desmond Rice replied 3 weeks ago 3 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • Martyn Swain

    March 26, 2024 at 7:48 am

    Thank you, Whit, for sharing your thoughts on this. I am no expert on neurology, however I tend to see the RH deficit Dr McGilchrist identifies as less a functional deficit typical of the sort that can be observed in RH lesions than as the outcome of a sort of competition in which the LH, having increasingly been allowed to fix the rules of the game, has arrogated to itself most of the advantages that will enable it to prevail. If we don’t want this to continue, then we have to resist.

  • Desmond Rice

    March 26, 2024 at 9:54 am

    A great question! I wonder whether the LH dominance is related more to our conditioning by the cultural norms of society. In modern day society we are more likely to “reward” those who can “do” things and make things which we believe will improve society and so make us happier. (Even though they may not). As modern society praises those who succeed, in these areas, we, since we are infants become accustomed to hearing LH activities being praised and RH competencies diminished. Perhaps, therefore, to have society society move more to RH control we (only 😁) need to encourage and reward the 4 pillars that Iain speaks of; goodness, truth, beauty and the sacred.

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