Reply To: Hunter Gatherer Minds

  • Whit Blauvelt

    March 30, 2024 at 4:32 pm

    Clifford, That’s a brilliant question — the economic deployment of consciousness, and the productive viability of different modes in different environments.

    Something that Laura Otis in her book, Rethinking Thought, brings up is that Broca’s area (one of the LH modules long associated with language) has been shown in recent research also to be involved in sequencing which isn’t of language.

    In terms of the question you bring up here, hunting and gathering isn’t just a matter of focus on the objects sought, but on the paths to where they can be found. Paths are inherently sequential in our traverse. Language also takes paths.

    Basic agriculture also depends on paths — paths which just like hunting and gathering are relative to the path of the seasons. But as hunting or gathering or farming scale up to larger groups of people, where the leaders need to be skilled at finding the paths in the world, other members of the group become more concerned with following the paths as given them in the leaders’ words.

    So it may not just be LH/RH balance being affected here, but the balance of use of Broca’s area, and the question of whether the individual is the master chef, working directly and largely beyond language, or the helpers, strictly charged with following the verbal recipes — and with anticipating what the boss will say in extending those recipes, even beyond what’s yet been said.

    “Just following orders,” of course, can exemplify the worst of humanity. And yet, we do want recipes — even recipes for correcting the imbalance McGilchrist points to.