Reply To: Sense of self & the hemispheres

  • Whit Blauvelt

    August 8, 2023 at 5:03 pm


    Much appreciate your engagement, both here and with this whole mess of ideas. Somewhat randomly, I just read Nathaniel Barrett’s article, “Facing Up to the Problem of Affect,” in last year’s Nov.-Dec. Journal of Consciousness Studies. He doesn’t touch on narrative, but emphasizes how affect has been nearly totally ignored in theories of consciousness, especially those focused on “information.” This reminds me of a study from around 1970, where those with left-hemisphere damage that limited verbal comprehension were far better, in watching a video, at knowing whether a speaker was lying. (Sorry I totally lack the reference for that.) If what we say is LH, the spirit in which we say it may be RH.

    In your spectrum of narrative types, from the most explicit to the most subtle (if I’m reading that roughly right), what’s the place or relationship of affect? I suspect that Barrett’s narrower case, against discounting of the possibility that affect is a core value of consciousness rather than a peripheral concern, may be true more broadly when narrative is taken as primarily as the information content of symbolic strings, ignoring the melodies and harmonies of those strings’ vibrations.

    To quote Ed Sander’s favorite Plato line, “When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake.” Much of what McGilchrist objects to for instance in the drift of tone in scientific articles looks much like the flattening of affect in psychiatric cases, perhaps.

    Hope all’s well with those family obligations.