Reply To: Fichte and the Romantics

  • Whit Blauvelt

    March 6, 2024 at 3:33 am

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for the reading suggestions. As for the focus on time, I’m just finishing Raymond Tallis’s Of Time and Lamentation. His conclusion is very much focused on time, and on the artificiality of our parsing the world into objects. It’s a shame he and McGilchrist are antagonists, with such an overlap of insights. But then, Tallis is also far more logical in style and structure than McGilchrist — although no where near so much as Fichte.

    Part of my puzzlement in this territory is with the notion that our modern cultures have strayed from Romanticism, since my own circles have largely not. But then, I studied with Allen Ginsberg, who was entirely Blakean in his orientation. I also studied with Paul Grice, whose focus on intentionality dovetails nicely with Tallis’s. I learned mushroom hunting from Paul Stamets, a fellow student then. Subsequently I was in the Seattle generation from which grunge emerged (the best of which is quite Romantic), then in the initial waves turning formerly quite parts of Brooklyn bohemian, subsequently decamping to small town Vermont — a largely Romantic state for centuries. My friends who haven’t been artists have been art critics, art historians, art handlers, art restorers … and a few writers and crafts people.

    I just read an entirely wonderful book, Rethinking Thought, by Laura Otis, who like McGilchrist straddles neuroscience, which she got her masters in, and literature, which she currently teaches alongside being a successful novelist. The book is based on her interviews with creative people, about the modalities of thinking in which they do their work — high-end function rather than the examples of dysfunction Iain focuses on. There are many different ways to do well, in terms of working in verbal, visual, spatial and other modes, and their translations and combinations. She does not care for the common (i.e. pre-McGilchrist) characterization of the LH as “bully” and the RH as the visual-spatial superior. She also focuses on how the visual and spatial intelligences are, per recent research, not the same, with spatial intelligence (like language) somewhat based in Broca’s area. She argues that those who make the most creative contributions often achieve them through developing whichever modalities come to them with the most difficulty.

    The question I’ve just submitted for Iain is: “Is it possible to shift the origin of the introspective gaze from one hemisphere to the other? Can one look alternately from the point of view of the master, or of the emissary? Or, if they each somewhat independently persist with their own point of view, is there some superior, third point of view which may integrate them, or may be achieved as the realization of their best harmonization?

    “Then, might the seat of will, as the point of origin of consciously-mediated action, also shift between hemispheres?”

    I suspect the answers to each of these is “Yes.” Also, Fichte’s “formal freedom” is a clue.