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Left-brain thinking will destroy civilisation We are living in an age of reductionism


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May 1, 2023   16 mins
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May 1, 2023   16 mins

What has an esoteric theory about the differing functions of the two hemispheres of the brain got to do with everyday politics, or science, or arguments on Twitter? Potentially, rather a lot.

Dr Iain McGilchrist is a neuroscientist and philosopher who has amassed a huge following since the publication of The Master and his Emissary (2009), which sets out the idea that our society has become dominated by narrow left-brain thinking, while the wiser right-brain should properly be in charge.

Dr McGilchrist visited the UnHerd Club last week. Below is an edited transcript of his conversation with Freddie Sayers.

Freddie Sayers: Let’s start at the beginning. What is the difference between the Left-brain and the Right-brain?

Iain McGilchrist: You may think, if you know anything about hemisphere difference, that the left hemisphere is boring but reliable — like a decent accountant, it keeps good records but is not actually great company. And that the right hemisphere is this flighty thing that is given to fits of passion and painting. This is not a good way to think about it at all.

The brain is billions of neurons — nerve cells that connect — and its power consists in those connections. So why would nature have endowed us with a brain that has a whopping divide down the middle, with just a small connection between the two? The world around us doesn’t divide neatly into a left world and a right world, so why would the brain?

What my research over 30 years — and my collaboration with John Cutting in the initial phases of that — reveals is that these two manners of being in the world are to do with the way in which we attend. Now, that may not sound very exciting. In fact, when I first realised that the basic thing here was attention, the penny didn’t immediately drop. What’s special about attention? Well, attention is actually how our world comes into being. If you attend to something in one way, you see one thing. If you attend to it in another, you’ll see something quite different.

These two kinds of attention came about for an evolutionarily important reason. Every creature has to solve this conundrum: how can I eat and yet stay alive? That doesn’t sound difficult, but if you think back: for most of history, a creature has to be able to target something, follow it with its eyes, and get it very accurately. To do that it has to have very narrow attention. But if that’s the only attention it is paying, it won’t last very long, because he won’t see the predator overhead, it won’t see its mate and its offspring that also need feeding. So there needs to be two kinds of attention, and so different are these kinds of attention that they can only come about by having two centres of awareness.

The left hemisphere has a very narrow beam, targeted on a detail which it can see very precisely. It fixes it and grabs it (and the left hemisphere controls the right hand with which most of us do the grabbing and the getting). Whereas the right hemisphere has a broad, open, sustained vigilant attention, which is on the lookout for everything else without preconception. So on the one hand you’ve got an attention that produces a world of tiny fragments that don’t seem connected to one another — a bit here a bit there, a bit elsewhere — that are decontextualised, disembodied. Whereas with the right hemisphere we see that nothing really is completely separated from anything else — that ultimately, all this is on some level seamlessly interconnected, that it’s flowing and changing rather than fixed and static. Uniqueness is something the right hemisphere sees, while the left hemisphere sees just an example of something that it uses or needs. The right hemisphere is the world in which we live; the left hemisphere’s world is, if you like, a map, a schema, a diagram, a theory — something two dimensional. So we’ve got this one world, which is composed of things that are mechanical, useful, inanimate, reducible to their parts, abstracted, decontextualised, dead; and another world, which is flowing, complex, living, changing and has all the qualities that make life worth living.

 

FS: These two modes of attending have with them accompanying philosophies, accompanying ways of seeing the world. And your thesis seems to be that as a whole society, not just as individuals, we have become overly dependent on the left hemisphere, and are neglecting the wiser right hemisphere. How has this happened?

IM: Things work well as long as the left hemisphere is carrying out work it’s deputed to do by the right hemisphere. Rather like we use a computer. The computer doesn’t really understand the data we draw from the complexity of life. That’s not its job: its job is to process data very fast, and hand us back some that we then make sense of.

The Greek and the Roman civilisation began with a sudden outburst of flourishing in which the two sides worked very well together. Then over time, they moved more and more towards the left hemisphere’s point of view. I think this is because civilisations tend to overreach themselves. They tend to amass an empire, and then everything has to be administered: there are rules and procedures, and everything is rolled out under a bureaucracy. And what this privileges is a simple, sequential, analytic way of understanding, rather than the more complex, holistic understanding that is required and is provided by the right hemisphere.

What I think happened during the Renaissance was this sudden flowering in which there were great steps forward in so many aspects of life — a great richness. (This is not about the humanities versus the sciences by the way, nor is it true that the humanities are somehow right hemisphere and sciences somehow left hemisphere; good science and good reasoning involve the right hemisphere as much as the left.) Then towards the end of the 17th century came a sense that science had solved all our problems and we were beginning to understand how to control everything ourselves.

Unfortunately, we now believe that if we just had a little bit more power (which is the raison d’etre of the left hemisphere: to grasp, to get) — if only we could do a bit more manipulation — we would solve everything. But at the same time, we’re making an unholy mess of the world in so many respects. We’re destroying nature, we’re destroying humanity. We’re certainly destroying this civilisation. I’d say we’re taking a sledgehammer to it. And so, this is a very sad outcome for this know-it-all left hemisphere.

There are several reasons why I think the left hemisphere has become more potent. One is that it’s the one that makes you rich. It’s the one with which you do the grabbing and getting. Another is that it’s much easier to explain the left hemisphere’s point of view: “If we do this, it leads to that.” When you start to openly analyse what your civilisation is about, rather than getting on with it, then you lean more and more into this left hemisphere point of view. A.N. Whitehead, who I consider one of the all-time greatest philosophers, said: “A civilisation flourishes until it starts to analyse itself.” And that’s remarkable because Whitehead was a mathematician and a physicist, but he was able to see the limitations of science and reason.

I happen to believe our science is not scientific enough. It’s too dogmatic. I happen to believe our reason is not reasonable enough, it’s too dogmatic — and it’s dogma that’s always the problem. We need science, we need reason, but we also need to see that they can’t answer all our questions. Love is very real. Anyone who’s experienced it knows that it’s one of the realest things that can happen to you — but according to science, for it to be real, you’ve got to be able to see it in the lab, measure it, manipulate it.

And then you start thinking about all the other amazing things that we experience. Music: it’s wonderful, it can change your life, but it’s just notes. What is the note? Absolutely nothing? Thirty thousand nothings make up Bach’s B minor Mass, one of the most powerful things you can hear. How did that happen by amalgamating so many nothings? It’s because it’s all in relation. What I’m suggesting is that relationships are primary. The things we notice only become what they are because of the relationships.

FS: You kicked off with the Enlightenment. Is that where it all went wrong? Have we become gradually more and more left-brained, or are there particular points when the left brain has been dominant?

IM: There have been movements back and forwards, corrections at various times. After the Enlightenment came Romanticism — the name “Romantic” seems to imply that it’s not serious or important, but in fact, the thinking and the art that came out of the period is very great indeed. There was a correction. But then the power of the Industrial Revolution led to this machine-like way of thinking about living things, and we’ve never really lost that.

There are great artists in Modernism and Postmodernism. But it’s interesting: the ways of seeing the world that normally would only happen to somebody who had an injury in the right hemisphere began to be represented in the visual arts in the 20th century. There’s a wonderful book called Madness and Modernism about this topic, showing how things you find in schizophrenia are now happening, and are being portrayed in our culture.

It’s not that we’ve all got schizophrenia — of course we haven’t — but what I think is that we’re all neglecting the right hemisphere. Schizophrenia is a case in which the left hemisphere has gone into overdrive, and the right hemisphere has been wound down or is not really being listened to, and this leads to delusions and hallucinations. I think we are now in a world which is fully deluded. We’re all fairly reasonable people, but now it’s quite common to hear people say — and for them to go completely unchallenged — things that everybody knows are completely impossible. They don’t have any science behind them. There are aspects of our culture that have become very vociferous and very irrational, and very dogmatic and very hubristic. “This is right, and anyone who says otherwise is wrong.” That’s the way the left hemisphere likes to be. Cut and dried, black and white. But the right hemisphere sees nuances, gradation: there’s good and bad in almost everything.

FS: Do you think we have ever been in a moment as left-hemisphere-dominated as we are now?

IM: No, I think this is hitherto unseen.

FS: Do you think technology has something to do with that?

IM: Definitely. I’d like to make a distinction, by the way, between what I would call a rationalistic approach and being reasonable. Being reasonable was something I remember from when I was growing up. There were reasonable people and they were admired. The idea of education was to make you reasonable. But now, that has been supplanted by something quite different: a rationalising framework such as a computer could follow. So we’ve been pushed by the increasing sophistication of machines — the intoxicating feeling that we have power over the world —  into viewing the world in this reductionist, materialist way. And the trouble with power is that it’s only as good as the wisdom of the person who wields it. And I don’t notice that we’re getting wiser. In fact, I think that would be an understatement. So it’s rather like putting machine guns in the hands of toddlers and then hoping there’s going to be a happy outcome.

FS: So we’re not living in an age of reason, after all?

IM: We’re living in an age of rationalising and reductionism in which everything can be taken apart. I suppose there was an almost equivalent period — it was very short lived — of Puritanism, when it was absolutely not tolerated for you to disagree with a certain way of thinking — which was, in fact, a very dogmatic, reduced, abstracted way of thinking. But I think at that point, we hadn’t reached the stage that we’re at now. Because at that time in history, people lived close to nature. Most people belonged to an inherited culture, a coherent culture. Art had not been turned into something conceptual, but was visceral and moving. Religion had not been presented as something that only a fool or an infant would believe. These are all very arrogant positions that we now hold.

We know that some things are key to human flourishing: proximity to nature; a culture; some sense of something beyond this realm. They make people healthier, both physically and mentally. We’ve done away with that and now all we’re left with is public debate.

FS: Those people who do dissent in this rationalist framework are often demonised as kooks. It’s a very heretical thought: that they may actually be the wiser ones in our society. How can we distinguish between those alternative voices that are actually wise, versus the ones that are kooks?

IM: Just having a differing point of view doesn’t mean you’re necessarily wise. You could be kooky. But nonetheless, I think those who are wise do have a position very different from the one that is now instilled in us in schools and through the media and so forth — which is, in fact, a very impoverished vision of life. It’s lost all its beauty, its richness, its complexity and become very simple, sterile, repellent. And so, I think, if we could begin to suspend our judgments, we’d be making steps forward.

I would say that a civilisation cannot thrive if differing points of view cannot be heard. Hannah Arendt, one of the greatest philosophers of the last 100 years, who was herself a German Jew and experienced Nazism, said that: “Once something can’t be said, you’re already in a tyranny.” So, it is indisputable that we are all now living, in Britain, in 2023, in a tyranny, because there are people who say, “You can’t say these things and there will be terrible consequences if you do.”

FS: You’re a big advocate of science, but you’ve written that you feel as if it’s taking a wrong turn. When does science become scientism?

IM: When it quite simply says that science can answer all of our questions — even though science is only supposed to admit things which can be proved to be the case, and it cannot be proved that science can answer all our questions. So it’s not a scientific assumption, it’s an assumption of faith. Scientism is a faith. Much as there are religious fundamentalists, which I very much regret, there are fundamentalist atheists, who I regret just as much. I think a reasonable person is somebody who has an open mind. It’s rather like a figure of fun in earlier philosophy called Simplices, who wants to learn to swim. And so, he just sits on the bank, and he reads about how to swim, but in fact, you can’t learn how to swim until you get into the water.

I think there are good scientists — and there are now, at last, good life scientists: biologists who are being imaginative and talking in a holistic way. They’ve got a long way to go to catch up with physics: I find that the scientists who are most interested in my work are actually physicists. Because these two different hemispheres are rather like the differences between the wave and the particle: the one is specifiable here, exactly at this moment in time, and the other is actually existent over a broader area and is not certainly specified.

FS: You had an appendix in the first volume, entitled “Why we should be sceptical of public science”. Tell us about that.

IM: Public science is not the same as science. Public science is run by administrators. And they have various bees in their bonnet — about how we should all do this and that in order to be healthy. Usually, when you come to examine the science, it’s much more complicated than that.

There’s also a problem with peer review. Peer review is the basic idea of science — you send it to another scientist. What do they think about it? There are all kinds of pitfalls in this. It can be corrupted. In order to have a career as a scientist you have to have published, but one of the problems for many scientists is finding anyone who’s willing to publish what they’ve done. And there are now journals, a lot of them based in China, that will basically publish anything as long as you pay them. You’d be very credulous to believe that everything that is said to be science is science.

So, I’m not attacking science, I’m just saying that science is not immune from all the problems that go with being a human being. It’s practised by humans, with all their greed, their ambition, their competitiveness. And so it’s a minefield — you have to use your discrimination. When people say something, look it up.

FS: The world you describe has gone very wrong. But do you have hope that this can be fixed, that this civilisation can be righted? Or do you think now is the time just to withdraw and hope for the best?

IM: I think it is extremely unlikely that this civilisation will survive, but most civilisations have not lasted for more than a few 100 years. I think life will go on, but it won’t be life as we know it. None of us is going to live forever. We’re all only here for a while and we enjoy the gift we’ve been given. And then the world moves on and something else will come and they will have their gifts and their problems.

Trust is crucial here. You can’t trust when you’re in a virtual sphere of billions of people. Trust is the most important thing for civilisation. If we can trust one another, we can honourably work together with much simpler needs, closer to the earth — not the extravagant and fantasy lives that we now lead.

What can we do now? We can begin the work of limiting the damage we do to nature. I think we also need to reestablish some sense of who we are and what we’re doing here. Although we’ve got all this power, and machines that can “think”, they can’t think at all, they can only process information extremely rapidly. We’re not really wise.

One of my answers, when people say, “What should we do?”, is pray. And by that, I don’t mean, as Heidegger said, “Only God can save us now.” I don’t mean that God will suddenly come down with his divine hand, sort everything out, and it’ll all be okay. That’s not going to happen. What I mean is that we adopt a different, less arrogant, less hubristic attitude to the world; that we have some humility; that we re-kindle in ourselves a sense of awe and wonder, in this beautiful world, and with it bring some compassion to our relations with other people. Not shouting them down, vilifying them, telling them they’re frightful, but reasonably talking and saying, “Okay, you disagree with me. I’m interested, explain your point of view.” What we mustn’t do is follow the strident shrieking voices, whatever they may be saying.

FS: That is a wonderful moment to take some questions.

Question One: Is there a difference between the male and female brain?

IM: Yes. This question always comes up. And the trouble is that, to answer it in a sensitive way, I’d have to spend quite a lot of time answering it. To put it very simply: I think it’s certainly not true that the right hemisphere is somehow female, and the left hemisphere male. If anything, it’s the opposite. For example, what’s established beyond doubt is women’s excellence lies in skills that are often linguistic. Whereas men may be much less linguistic, but more able to manipulate things in space. That is a right hemisphere property largely, and linguistic fluency is largely a left hemisphere property.

In utero, it is testosterone that causes the right hemisphere to expand. Women’s hemispheres are more similar to one another. I think it’s pretty indisputable that male brains are more specialised, the left and right. Whereas in female brains, there’s more overlap between the left and right. So there’s more of the right about the left and more of the left about the right than there is in a man. And this means that if a woman has a stroke on one side, she’s more likely to be able to recover using the other hemisphere than a man. Neither is better. It’s just different ways of being.

Question Two: I’m thinking about how we’re moving towards the left. Do you think that it has anything to do with language and speech? In a podcast with Sam Harris, you were saying speech comes from the left side of the brain. And so speech inherently has to be limiting; it has to break things down in order to communicate.

IM: Yes, undoubtedly one of the big developments of the human brain is language and speech. And 97% of speech, in most right handers, is in the left hemisphere. In the case of left handers, it’s 60% in the left hemisphere, 40% in the right, but I don’t think we should get over-excited about that. The point that you’re making, I think, is that the business of being able to articulate something in language requires a certain degree of analysis and categorisation, and that the really important things in life don’t lend themselves to this process — the divine, love, music, all these things I keep coming back to. These things are enormously limited if I’m trying to do them in language, unless that language is poetry.

I see poetry as a way of language undercutting itself — doing something that ordinary language can’t do. And the interesting thing about poetry is that it’s very much right hemisphere dependent, because it involves all these implicit things like metaphors and tone. The right hemisphere is much better at this; the left hemisphere can read a repair manual for a lawn mower. There’s a difference between certain kinds of language. But broadly speaking, yes, the advent of language, and particularly speech, favoured the left hemisphere over the right.

FS: And so the left-hemisphere-dominated culture will see a decline in literature, in poetry and imagery?

IM: And creativity in general, because it’s so dependent on the ability to hold many things together that may not look like they gel, rather than collapsing them into certainty. We know from accounts of creativity that the important thing is not to say, “Oh, I see what it is.” Because as soon as you’ve done that, you’ve plonked it into a left hemisphere box with a label on it. You have to resist that and allow the thing to come into being and then it will be a true poem, not just a piece of verse.

The postmodern thing is a disaster, it’s basically collapsing into: “There is nothing really there, we make it all up.” I accept that in intellectual history, there has been a shift away from a narrowly analytic way of thinking, but I’d say that’s only in pockets within academia. And what is much more common is this post-structuralist, post-modernist, anything goes attitude in which everything is equally true. Well, if everything is equally true, why don’t we all just cut our throats now?

I believe there is such a thing as a truer view, a truer pronouncement. But it’s not that there’s something out there that we have to get to by a chain of reasoning. It’s something that we have to feel our way towards and have a sense of, and then it comes more and more into being. There aren’t any rules for defining what exactly is true. You see, because we idolise rules and procedures, we think that if there aren’t rules and procedures for something, then it can’t be real. But all of the really real things are not susceptible to this proceduralisation.

One of the problems with universities now, as with schools, as with the medical profession, and with the whole of life, is the sudden explosion of bureaucratic procedures and thinking. There are manuals upon  manuals that you’re supposed to read and observe and follow. And then we’re surprised that professionals, who are skilled people who have learned things through experience, want to leave the profession because they’re effed off with the way in which they’re cheated by managers. I had a very, very distinguished colleague — a professor of neuro-psychiatry at the Maudsley — and he was queried by a manager about why he’d sent a patient for a scan. And he said, when I have to explain to a manager why I’ve sent a patient for a scan, it’s time for me to leave the profession. And he did.

Question Three: Could we say that we’re living in a world where the very reasons for doubting are doubted and there is this crusade for certitude?

IM: Absolutely. One of the first things that differentiates the hemispheres is that the left hemisphere has to have certainty. There’s a famous picture used by Wittgenstein, which is actually taken from a Victorian children’s comic, which shows either a duck or a rabbit depending on how you look at it. The right hemisphere is able to hold those two images together without collapsing them, but the left hemisphere is unable to. It’s either a duck or it’s a rabbit. It’s black and white, dogmatic thinking. Whereas the right hemisphere is the devil’s advocate. It was so called by V.S. Ramachandran, a very great neuroscientist. It’s the one that says, “Yeah, but maybe not.” And if only we had more of that voice, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.

FS: The one area that we haven’t spent much time on is the sacred. Do you think this must be part of the story: that the need for certainty is also an insecurity because there is an absence which religion used to fill?

IM: I think to some extent, although I would say that any religion that peddled certainties was not a religion, properly speaking. It was a dogma or doctrine. Not that there’s no reality about it, but there is no single way of thinking about this or realising it or seeing it. Everybody has to make their own way there.

I wouldn’t like to say exactly what I believe in religious terms, but what I definitely believe is that all the great religions — and the great mystical traditions of Buddhism and Taoism — have central truths that they hold in common, and that these are a kind of wisdom that is not appreciated unless one is brought up in a tradition that helped one see them. And our tradition is dead against seeing them. It’s much simpler just to say, “Oh, it’s all nonsense, because I can’t see any of this. I can’t measure any of it.”  But I don’t think that is reasonable; I’d be much more cautious. I think I have had experience of such a realm — in my appreciation of the beauty of the world. It spoke to me and still speaks to me of something beyond this realm. When I first heard the great polyphony of Renaissance, I thought, yes, it can move the emotions, but it’s not primarily either intellectual or emotional. In fact, it’s spiritual.


Dr Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist, neuroscience researcher, philosopher and literary scholar. His latest book is The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

A really interesting interview. Well done, Unherd. I hadn’t heard of McGilchrist but today I ordered one of his books from the public library.
Interesting to watch him avoid directly mentioning wokeness, transgenderism ideology, etc, by name when he referred to the ideological rigidity and intolerance in much of modern society. Freddie pressed him at one point but he sidestepped the question. I’m guessing he’s willing to criticize the phenomenon of ideological rigidity, and the dangers of a close-minded attitude toward science, but he won’t go too close to the live wire of calling out wokeness or the trans lobby by name. Smart guy.
He also said he didn’t think Western society in its current form will survive for much longer. I suspect he’s right. The so-called “march through the institutions” seems too far advanced to turn back. It’s easy to conclude that what comes next will be worse than the supposedly flawed, liberal society it replaces, but perhaps there’s some chance it will be better, or at least better adapted to the world of tomorrow. I cling to that sliver of hope.
I also just read Deneen’s insightful essay on JS Mill’s view of the function of liberty. An embarrassment of riches on Unherd this weekend.

Last edited 1 year ago by J Bryant
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes! And that such reflections can be afforded us, i take as a hugely positive indicator.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, a lot of that stuff is beneath anyone with a brain to bother criticizing.
And by referring to it directly, you just get tangled up in it.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

An embarrassment of riches”. Best new collective noun I’ve seen in a while.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

It’s not new.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

It’s a very familiar term. Title of the book by Simon Schama about the Dutch Republic.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

It’s not new.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

It’s a very familiar term. Title of the book by Simon Schama about the Dutch Republic.

Jennifer Church
Jennifer Church
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Honestly what it so comes down to is two variables, both are “relationships” and one cannot or may have difficulty to exist with out the other… the first and most important is God, however this is usually introduced by the second variable and that would be “ family” what’s happening in our world today is the dismantle of the family unit…. John Locke once said and I’m paraphrasing here “ any unnecessary interference by the government to the normal trilateral structure of the family unit becomes not only a threat to the family involved but menace to the very foundations of society itself. “

https://photos.app.goo.gl/eda11RtHSaWym33ZA
https://photos.app.goo.gl/dECnD9iS6MjE7ewL9i

Mike MacPhee
Mike MacPhee
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

As ever, very hard to disagree with McGilchrist. A resonating picture that chimes with our daily experience and explains what seemed an incomprehensible path of self destruction. Something must be done culture equating to everything must be destroyed. Quite challenging to take an optimistic view of evolution as seen through this penetrating lens. The sliver of hope is for what happens after the conflagration?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes! And that such reflections can be afforded us, i take as a hugely positive indicator.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, a lot of that stuff is beneath anyone with a brain to bother criticizing.
And by referring to it directly, you just get tangled up in it.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

An embarrassment of riches”. Best new collective noun I’ve seen in a while.

Jennifer Church
Jennifer Church
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Honestly what it so comes down to is two variables, both are “relationships” and one cannot or may have difficulty to exist with out the other… the first and most important is God, however this is usually introduced by the second variable and that would be “ family” what’s happening in our world today is the dismantle of the family unit…. John Locke once said and I’m paraphrasing here “ any unnecessary interference by the government to the normal trilateral structure of the family unit becomes not only a threat to the family involved but menace to the very foundations of society itself. “

https://photos.app.goo.gl/eda11RtHSaWym33ZA
https://photos.app.goo.gl/dECnD9iS6MjE7ewL9i

Mike MacPhee
Mike MacPhee
10 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

As ever, very hard to disagree with McGilchrist. A resonating picture that chimes with our daily experience and explains what seemed an incomprehensible path of self destruction. Something must be done culture equating to everything must be destroyed. Quite challenging to take an optimistic view of evolution as seen through this penetrating lens. The sliver of hope is for what happens after the conflagration?

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

A really interesting interview. Well done, Unherd. I hadn’t heard of McGilchrist but today I ordered one of his books from the public library.
Interesting to watch him avoid directly mentioning wokeness, transgenderism ideology, etc, by name when he referred to the ideological rigidity and intolerance in much of modern society. Freddie pressed him at one point but he sidestepped the question. I’m guessing he’s willing to criticize the phenomenon of ideological rigidity, and the dangers of a close-minded attitude toward science, but he won’t go too close to the live wire of calling out wokeness or the trans lobby by name. Smart guy.
He also said he didn’t think Western society in its current form will survive for much longer. I suspect he’s right. The so-called “march through the institutions” seems too far advanced to turn back. It’s easy to conclude that what comes next will be worse than the supposedly flawed, liberal society it replaces, but perhaps there’s some chance it will be better, or at least better adapted to the world of tomorrow. I cling to that sliver of hope.
I also just read Deneen’s insightful essay on JS Mill’s view of the function of liberty. An embarrassment of riches on Unherd this weekend.

Last edited 1 year ago by J Bryant
Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Well done, a superb interview. This resonated:
“One of the problems with universities now, as with schools, as with the medical profession, and with the whole of life, is the sudden explosion of bureaucratic procedures and thinking. There are manuals upon manuals that you’re supposed to read and observe and follow. And then we’re surprised that professionals, who are skilled people who have learned things through experience, want to leave the profession because they’re effed off with the way in which they’re cheated by managers.”
I am going to send that wonderful quote to a few well-deserving recipients.
I also blame the internet, and the decline of organised religion. In my teens, I despised churches. Decades later, I fret about their demise. Many people need that outlet for irrationality. Deprived of such outlets, they inflict their brittle minds on civil societies. The hoi polloi aren’t too bright, and there was a good reason why sophisticated societies evolved to keep most people’s opinions shut out of serious discourse. You’re not supposed to say that, but, unless you’re a serial woke bullfhitter, that’s a mere truism. It’s why we have representative democracy. Too many people simply are too intellectually lazy, too emotional, too inclined to favour simple solutions, to easily swayed by their cultures, to be trusted with direct (plebiscite) democracy. Too many people have an innate religiosity which regulates them rather more than reason ever does. Once deprived of a conventional outlet (such as regular churches), the hoi polloi’s innate predilection for irrational certainties will find an outlet in some other area, such as identity politics. Pretty much all of the identity politics manifestations, from critical race theory through trans rights to metoo, have all the hallmarks of cults, rather than anything rational.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

That is a fair analysis.
I have thought about the same issues a lot and I would add to you list of culprits.
Two World Wars – It seems to me that starting in the late 50s/early 60s the generation that should have been in charge ceded control to the baby boomer generation and out went duty, respect and deferred gratification and in came selfishness, greed, disrespect and instant gratification which are generally speaking the hallmarks of the young. There seems to have been a loss of confidence of the war generation which I suspect was down to the experience of 2 World Wars.
Demographic – It seems that whenever there is a population bulge it is usually followed by unrest and turmoil as the bulge achieves adulthood, realise that they have power and make their presence felt.
Television – Before the internet there was television and television played a major role in demolishing the institutions, values and culture of this country an replacing them with what we have now which is a culture of the lowest common denominator with more golden calves than you point a stick at
A failing state education system – That does not educate

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I think that I agree with at least some of what you say, Frank, but I’m not sure. It’s because you seem to contradict yourself. You fret about the demise of churches, for example, presumably because you see something of value in their traditions. But your very next sentence (repeated later on) identifies religious need with “irrationality” (which means opposition to logic and therefore to “stupidity” or “neuroticism”). No one actually values the irrational, but many do value the non-rational (which refers to the intuitive, symbolic or aesthetic). More specifically, religious people value both the rational and the non-rational but not the irrational. Some theologians and philosophers become too cerebral and thus lead people to boredom instead of holiness, sure, but it would be hard to accuse them of incoherence. In short, did you mean the non-rational?

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Nathanson
Tom More
Tom More
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Having studied western philosophy and history, it was the religious, Catholics in fact who introduced the genius of Greek philosophical realism and showed how it dovetailed with traditional monotheism. Which it does.
I’m used to the nose in the air allusion to “rationality” over that darling of the unwashed, religion, but of course it is the religious view which the Oxford 2011 study on Cognition and Religion found to be universal and “natural” to rational beings.
It seems very seldom to occur to our oh so “rational” friends, that the only possible ground for rationality and confidence in it , as both Chesterton and C S Lewis showed, is REASON as the ground of BEING itself.. God.
Final Causality as Aquinas named it . Dare I say, sanity.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom More

Pliny the Younger and Trajan would disagree.*

(*Pliny, Letters 10.96-97.)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom More

Pliny the Younger and Trajan would disagree.*

(*Pliny, Letters 10.96-97.)

Tom More
Tom More
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Having studied western philosophy and history, it was the religious, Catholics in fact who introduced the genius of Greek philosophical realism and showed how it dovetailed with traditional monotheism. Which it does.
I’m used to the nose in the air allusion to “rationality” over that darling of the unwashed, religion, but of course it is the religious view which the Oxford 2011 study on Cognition and Religion found to be universal and “natural” to rational beings.
It seems very seldom to occur to our oh so “rational” friends, that the only possible ground for rationality and confidence in it , as both Chesterton and C S Lewis showed, is REASON as the ground of BEING itself.. God.
Final Causality as Aquinas named it . Dare I say, sanity.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

“THE” hoi polloi” Come on Frank you can do better than that!

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

As a member of the hoi polloi, I find your comment so utterly ignorant it turns you into my enemy. You of course are never in your feeble imagination a member of the lower demos you profess to despise. YOU are above all that. F**k you!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

No need for ‘the’, hoi means THE!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Folk?

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago

The ordinary regular people. It’s a Yiddish term. If someone thinks of me as Hoi Poloi I’m honored.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

I was wondering what he meant by “folk you”

Kevin Morrison
Kevin Morrison
1 year ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

Not Yiddish; classical Greek.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

I was wondering what he meant by “folk you”

Kevin Morrison
Kevin Morrison
1 year ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

Not Yiddish; classical Greek.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago

The ordinary regular people. It’s a Yiddish term. If someone thinks of me as Hoi Poloi I’m honored.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

No need for ‘the’, hoi means THE!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Folk?

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Economic elite.
Modern monetary theory, quantitative, easing, M3 money supply, blah blah blah. Ignore the 2008, global financial crisis or the worse one clearly on the way.

Hoi polloi.
You spend more than you’ve got and eventually it’s going to catch up with you. It won’t turn out well

Academic elite
Post-modernism, critical theory, decolonisation, anti-racism, language is a power play, drivel, drivel, drivel

Hoi poloi
A person with a d*ck is a bloke.

Political elite
Uncontrolled immigration is an unalloyed good, it contributes hugely to GDP and we cannot manage without it.

Hoi poloi
My 16-year-old can’t get a plumbers apprenticeship because they don’t do them anymore now they can hire trained people from Poland for half the price.

I can’t afford a place to rent and can’t get into a doctors because we’ve let in 5 million people without building houses or hiring Drs.

Somethings not right here.

The hoi polloi can be absolutely relied on to make the right decisions to defend their interests.

The problem is your elites promise and don’t deliver or, to put it in another way, lie in the service of their own narrow interests.

First Last
First Last
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

…whilst polishing their own sticks by describing their behaviour rational and those ill-affected by generations of that ‘rationality’ as ill-deserving hoi polloi.
The only irrationality I see amidst hoi polloi is the refusal to revolt.

First Last
First Last
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

…whilst polishing their own sticks by describing their behaviour rational and those ill-affected by generations of that ‘rationality’ as ill-deserving hoi polloi.
The only irrationality I see amidst hoi polloi is the refusal to revolt.

Pamela Booker
Pamela Booker
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Whatever system mankind creates, it will become bogged down by bureaucracy.
We are ruled by bureaucrats in nearly every large organisation/system, where the ‘how’ takes precedence over the original objective.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Pamela Booker

It goes a bit deeper than that. You might want to take a look at James Burnham’s book The Managerial Revolution. He hypothesized that the world would end up in the hands of the managers and that both commerce and government would end up controlled by administrators motivated by the twin desires of accruing wealth and power to themselves and protecting their position.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Pamela Booker

It goes a bit deeper than that. You might want to take a look at James Burnham’s book The Managerial Revolution. He hypothesized that the world would end up in the hands of the managers and that both commerce and government would end up controlled by administrators motivated by the twin desires of accruing wealth and power to themselves and protecting their position.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I agree with a lot you say, but your rather ‘de haut en bas’ dismissal of the ‘hoi polloi’ seems out of place. A lot of ordinary people have a lot of common sense; they need it, and are the very last people we should hold responsible for ideological inanities such as ‘wokeism’.

It is of course alway easier for a supposedly intellectual stratum, who know a few big words and phrases, to come up with superficially plausible bullshit. They do it all the time, and ars a notorious category in most public sector organisations as well as many private ones

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

That is a fair analysis.
I have thought about the same issues a lot and I would add to you list of culprits.
Two World Wars – It seems to me that starting in the late 50s/early 60s the generation that should have been in charge ceded control to the baby boomer generation and out went duty, respect and deferred gratification and in came selfishness, greed, disrespect and instant gratification which are generally speaking the hallmarks of the young. There seems to have been a loss of confidence of the war generation which I suspect was down to the experience of 2 World Wars.
Demographic – It seems that whenever there is a population bulge it is usually followed by unrest and turmoil as the bulge achieves adulthood, realise that they have power and make their presence felt.
Television – Before the internet there was television and television played a major role in demolishing the institutions, values and culture of this country an replacing them with what we have now which is a culture of the lowest common denominator with more golden calves than you point a stick at
A failing state education system – That does not educate

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I think that I agree with at least some of what you say, Frank, but I’m not sure. It’s because you seem to contradict yourself. You fret about the demise of churches, for example, presumably because you see something of value in their traditions. But your very next sentence (repeated later on) identifies religious need with “irrationality” (which means opposition to logic and therefore to “stupidity” or “neuroticism”). No one actually values the irrational, but many do value the non-rational (which refers to the intuitive, symbolic or aesthetic). More specifically, religious people value both the rational and the non-rational but not the irrational. Some theologians and philosophers become too cerebral and thus lead people to boredom instead of holiness, sure, but it would be hard to accuse them of incoherence. In short, did you mean the non-rational?

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Nathanson
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

“THE” hoi polloi” Come on Frank you can do better than that!

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

As a member of the hoi polloi, I find your comment so utterly ignorant it turns you into my enemy. You of course are never in your feeble imagination a member of the lower demos you profess to despise. YOU are above all that. F**k you!

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Economic elite.
Modern monetary theory, quantitative, easing, M3 money supply, blah blah blah. Ignore the 2008, global financial crisis or the worse one clearly on the way.

Hoi polloi.
You spend more than you’ve got and eventually it’s going to catch up with you. It won’t turn out well

Academic elite
Post-modernism, critical theory, decolonisation, anti-racism, language is a power play, drivel, drivel, drivel

Hoi poloi
A person with a d*ck is a bloke.

Political elite
Uncontrolled immigration is an unalloyed good, it contributes hugely to GDP and we cannot manage without it.

Hoi poloi
My 16-year-old can’t get a plumbers apprenticeship because they don’t do them anymore now they can hire trained people from Poland for half the price.

I can’t afford a place to rent and can’t get into a doctors because we’ve let in 5 million people without building houses or hiring Drs.

Somethings not right here.

The hoi polloi can be absolutely relied on to make the right decisions to defend their interests.

The problem is your elites promise and don’t deliver or, to put it in another way, lie in the service of their own narrow interests.

Pamela Booker
Pamela Booker
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Whatever system mankind creates, it will become bogged down by bureaucracy.
We are ruled by bureaucrats in nearly every large organisation/system, where the ‘how’ takes precedence over the original objective.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I agree with a lot you say, but your rather ‘de haut en bas’ dismissal of the ‘hoi polloi’ seems out of place. A lot of ordinary people have a lot of common sense; they need it, and are the very last people we should hold responsible for ideological inanities such as ‘wokeism’.

It is of course alway easier for a supposedly intellectual stratum, who know a few big words and phrases, to come up with superficially plausible bullshit. They do it all the time, and ars a notorious category in most public sector organisations as well as many private ones

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Well done, a superb interview. This resonated:
“One of the problems with universities now, as with schools, as with the medical profession, and with the whole of life, is the sudden explosion of bureaucratic procedures and thinking. There are manuals upon manuals that you’re supposed to read and observe and follow. And then we’re surprised that professionals, who are skilled people who have learned things through experience, want to leave the profession because they’re effed off with the way in which they’re cheated by managers.”
I am going to send that wonderful quote to a few well-deserving recipients.
I also blame the internet, and the decline of organised religion. In my teens, I despised churches. Decades later, I fret about their demise. Many people need that outlet for irrationality. Deprived of such outlets, they inflict their brittle minds on civil societies. The hoi polloi aren’t too bright, and there was a good reason why sophisticated societies evolved to keep most people’s opinions shut out of serious discourse. You’re not supposed to say that, but, unless you’re a serial woke bullfhitter, that’s a mere truism. It’s why we have representative democracy. Too many people simply are too intellectually lazy, too emotional, too inclined to favour simple solutions, to easily swayed by their cultures, to be trusted with direct (plebiscite) democracy. Too many people have an innate religiosity which regulates them rather more than reason ever does. Once deprived of a conventional outlet (such as regular churches), the hoi polloi’s innate predilection for irrational certainties will find an outlet in some other area, such as identity politics. Pretty much all of the identity politics manifestations, from critical race theory through trans rights to metoo, have all the hallmarks of cults, rather than anything rational.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Two fascinating articles today. There is so much to ponder but my (arguably left brain ) was left with two big impressions

Arendt’s “Once something can’t be said, you’re already in a tyranny.”

Surely at every period of history, in every society, there are things that can’t be said. Making a case for homosexuality100 years ago was a fairly sure path to social and professional ostracism, without going back to being burnt at the stake for a belief.

All collections of human beings develop rules (explicit or implicit) for living together
and punish those who don’t follow the rules,

So if living under some type of tyranny is the human condition, what is the best form of tyranny? How would you set about defining that? What constitutes its underlying parameters? Utilitarian (left brain) – what’s best for most, or something else?

The other thought was kids and IT. Like many older people I struggle with technology. I need “do A, then do B, and C will happen” instructions.

Watch kids on it. They just play with it, like early man must have played with his surroundings, intuiting what works. If you have no concept of a thatched roof, presumably you just fiddle around with straw until a use occurs to you.

Is this explorative way of thinking unwiring their brains from left brain thinking, or making it worse?

I’m inclined to think the changes over the next 50 years will enormous and for the worse, but don’t all old people think that? Maybe society will adapt to its new tyrannies and most people will keep their heads down and get on with life, like they always have.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

“I’m inclined to think the changes over the next 50 years will be enormous and for the worse, but don’t all old people think that?”
Not just old people. I’ve been thinking that since I was fourteen (yes, I was a young curmudgeon) I’m now 78 and I was right.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

“I’m inclined to think the changes over the next 50 years will be enormous and for the worse, but don’t all old people think that?”
Not just old people. I’ve been thinking that since I was fourteen (yes, I was a young curmudgeon) I’m now 78 and I was right.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

Two fascinating articles today. There is so much to ponder but my (arguably left brain ) was left with two big impressions

Arendt’s “Once something can’t be said, you’re already in a tyranny.”

Surely at every period of history, in every society, there are things that can’t be said. Making a case for homosexuality100 years ago was a fairly sure path to social and professional ostracism, without going back to being burnt at the stake for a belief.

All collections of human beings develop rules (explicit or implicit) for living together
and punish those who don’t follow the rules,

So if living under some type of tyranny is the human condition, what is the best form of tyranny? How would you set about defining that? What constitutes its underlying parameters? Utilitarian (left brain) – what’s best for most, or something else?

The other thought was kids and IT. Like many older people I struggle with technology. I need “do A, then do B, and C will happen” instructions.

Watch kids on it. They just play with it, like early man must have played with his surroundings, intuiting what works. If you have no concept of a thatched roof, presumably you just fiddle around with straw until a use occurs to you.

Is this explorative way of thinking unwiring their brains from left brain thinking, or making it worse?

I’m inclined to think the changes over the next 50 years will enormous and for the worse, but don’t all old people think that? Maybe society will adapt to its new tyrannies and most people will keep their heads down and get on with life, like they always have.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

This is hugely vital and interesting.

We must beware of allocating a kind of omnipotence, or “guru” type status, to individuals, since (and i’d expect McGilchrist might agree) no-one has all the answers, but what emerges from reading this – and well done Unherd – is the perspective that it provides.

I don’t quite agree with the “our civilisation is doomed” conclusions that might be drawn, since it very much depends how one defines, or thinks about our civilisation. I don’t think it’s any one “thing” that can be taken apart. I do agree that it’s changing, which is rather different. The difference may well be the advent of the internet, which for the first time allows us to see ourselves in something approaching an ‘entirety’, for want of a better term – and language being one part of the key to unlocking our ability to change – to adapt, to survive and then prosper, or re-prosper.

I imagine that we’re going through such a period of learning to adapt to this technological advance, which isn’t going away, like some major new predator in the foodchain. Of course, we might get eaten, but what we can’t do is ignore it. In a sense, this is where language begins to fail, to fall short. That’s why we need non-dogmatists, able to utilise their right hemispheres, such as artists and musicians have always done as a function of societies reflecting upon themselves and thus able to move on. There’s just so much more that could be said about that! But, as this conversation demonstrates, we do have the means to move on.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

This is hugely vital and interesting.

We must beware of allocating a kind of omnipotence, or “guru” type status, to individuals, since (and i’d expect McGilchrist might agree) no-one has all the answers, but what emerges from reading this – and well done Unherd – is the perspective that it provides.

I don’t quite agree with the “our civilisation is doomed” conclusions that might be drawn, since it very much depends how one defines, or thinks about our civilisation. I don’t think it’s any one “thing” that can be taken apart. I do agree that it’s changing, which is rather different. The difference may well be the advent of the internet, which for the first time allows us to see ourselves in something approaching an ‘entirety’, for want of a better term – and language being one part of the key to unlocking our ability to change – to adapt, to survive and then prosper, or re-prosper.

I imagine that we’re going through such a period of learning to adapt to this technological advance, which isn’t going away, like some major new predator in the foodchain. Of course, we might get eaten, but what we can’t do is ignore it. In a sense, this is where language begins to fail, to fall short. That’s why we need non-dogmatists, able to utilise their right hemispheres, such as artists and musicians have always done as a function of societies reflecting upon themselves and thus able to move on. There’s just so much more that could be said about that! But, as this conversation demonstrates, we do have the means to move on.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago

Even on Unherd there is a herd and I am always concerned when I find myself outside of it… but unlike most of the comments here, I actually did not find this to be an enlightening or insightful interview.
On the contrary, Dr. McGilchrist’s comments seem to me to be too vague and abstracted to mean much, irrefutable in their generality. Regardless of the physical connection between the hemispheres inside the cranium, hasn’t it always been obvious that there are different ways of thinking and seeing, and that successful societies benefit from all of them? This does not seem like a very interesting or controversial observation. We can slice those differences variously – instrumental vs. abstract, particular vs. general, rational vs. creative, immanent vs. transcendent, masculine vs. feminine, pragmatic vs. inspired, protective vs. nurturing, etc. None of these categories are adequate and neither is his – because none could be. We’re talking about the entirety of the human experience here! Put it this way: was John Stuart Mill (to pick a totally random example!) a right- or left-brain thinker? Whatever the answer might be, it would tell us little about John Stuart Mill and much about ourselves via the categories we prefer.
And is the predominance of one particular way of thinking about to ruin everything? Perhaps… but the vague generality of the conclusion is revealed when you realize that on this analysis the interview could just as easily have been titled “left brain thinking built civilization.” Left-brain thinking dominates today – and so we have penicillin? And electrical appliances? And the Bill of Rights? So maybe the pendulum just needs to swing back a little bit the other way; “all things in moderation.” Yes, of course, who could disagree? But this is the wisdom of the ages, nothing more, nothing less.
And then I began to think that Dr. McGilchrist’s comments are themselves expressions of a certain over-dominance of left-brain thinking – reductive, instrumentalist, etc. Granted this was a casual interview, but still he jumps and leaps among historical tidbits-turned-cliches that I found misleading and frustrating. I mean, blaming the Puritans for their conformity is a bit much – they were Non-Conformists! Every society everywhere has always believed that *some* things are vital to the integrity and health of that society and must be believed or else you face ostracism or worse. The question is always and only “What are *our* society’s central lodestar values going to be?” And his answer to that question is something vague about universal spirituality – an answer which has never actually satisfied anyone anywhere, much less brought harmony to societies or peace to mankind. It is, in the end, a kind of intellectual cowardice masquerading as humility.
Anyhow, I am sure, as others have mentioned, that his book is much more persuasive. But I’m sorry to say that the interview did not inspire me to read it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

I thought it was a great interview – but also that you make some valid points. From reading all half a million words of The Matter with Things, my take away was that IM’s central contribution is to tell us how we can recognise the difference between Left & Right brain thinking. Which is valuable as in IM’s view, given the choice between a LB & RB argument – we should generally prefer the RB view if it concerns a big, holistic question such as a political choice.
Taking  your JSM example, IM would categorise him as more of an LB thinker. And if this had been known at the time, conservatives might not have been swayed by the siren quality of his writing (a LB thing) into taking positions that JSM may have seen as not intrinsically good in themselves, but as instrumental to establishing a progressive hegemony that the general public might not have supported on its merits.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

“Taking your JSM example, IM would categorise him as more of an LB thinker.”
Is there not the danger of false dichotomy here? Either/or? One might look at something from both perspectives quite deliberately. The string makes music because it is under tension. Thus the LB/RB ‘tension’, in a well balanced mind, might be considered a very positive thing. We need not ‘decide’ if JSM was this OR that, he was likely both at the same time.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Yes you’re right. I did try to indicate it’s not a pure binary distinction, by saying “more of”. As IM suggests himself in TMwT, you can’t be a totally LB thinker and operate in the world with any success. Despite the admitted power of LB, being purely LB makes one totally autistic, delusional, etc. Here’s something that may be hard to accept. Even if one views the elite Tech Bros as having a net -ve influence on the world – none can reasonably say they are extremely LB orientated. More LB than RB yes – but I’d have to admit that I’d consider some like Elon Musk to also have a much more powerful RB than someone like little me, even when I’m at my most poetic.
 
This is why, if AI doesnt turn out to be our salvation, I really hope IM saying God’s not going to come down and save us turns out to be another example of his ironic tendency to sometimes be a little LB himself. As I dont think anything less than the Second Coming will be enough. Maybe even it would be time for Grigua’s prayer!

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Yes you’re right. I did try to indicate it’s not a pure binary distinction, by saying “more of”. As IM suggests himself in TMwT, you can’t be a totally LB thinker and operate in the world with any success. Despite the admitted power of LB, being purely LB makes one totally autistic, delusional, etc. Here’s something that may be hard to accept. Even if one views the elite Tech Bros as having a net -ve influence on the world – none can reasonably say they are extremely LB orientated. More LB than RB yes – but I’d have to admit that I’d consider some like Elon Musk to also have a much more powerful RB than someone like little me, even when I’m at my most poetic.
 
This is why, if AI doesnt turn out to be our salvation, I really hope IM saying God’s not going to come down and save us turns out to be another example of his ironic tendency to sometimes be a little LB himself. As I dont think anything less than the Second Coming will be enough. Maybe even it would be time for Grigua’s prayer!

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

“Taking your JSM example, IM would categorise him as more of an LB thinker.”
Is there not the danger of false dichotomy here? Either/or? One might look at something from both perspectives quite deliberately. The string makes music because it is under tension. Thus the LB/RB ‘tension’, in a well balanced mind, might be considered a very positive thing. We need not ‘decide’ if JSM was this OR that, he was likely both at the same time.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

“I mean, blaming the Puritans for their conformity is a bit much – they were Non-Conformists!”
It does not follow. That a group of people breaks from the established religion of the day in no way predicts that they might not be absolutely rigidly dogmatic among themselves. Your comment fails in logic and in practice because we observe that non-conformist sects of all kinds are very often notably ‘conformist’ within the walls of their sect. One could list dozens of examples.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

If only you hadn’t stopped reading there… of course the Puritans were dogmatic about certain things – everyone is, non-conformists and rebels and free-thinkers alike. They just define their kind of conformity against some other kind of (predominating) conformity

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

If only you hadn’t stopped reading there… of course the Puritans were dogmatic about certain things – everyone is, non-conformists and rebels and free-thinkers alike. They just define their kind of conformity against some other kind of (predominating) conformity

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

I thought it was a great interview – but also that you make some valid points. From reading all half a million words of The Matter with Things, my take away was that IM’s central contribution is to tell us how we can recognise the difference between Left & Right brain thinking. Which is valuable as in IM’s view, given the choice between a LB & RB argument – we should generally prefer the RB view if it concerns a big, holistic question such as a political choice.
Taking  your JSM example, IM would categorise him as more of an LB thinker. And if this had been known at the time, conservatives might not have been swayed by the siren quality of his writing (a LB thing) into taking positions that JSM may have seen as not intrinsically good in themselves, but as instrumental to establishing a progressive hegemony that the general public might not have supported on its merits.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

“I mean, blaming the Puritans for their conformity is a bit much – they were Non-Conformists!”
It does not follow. That a group of people breaks from the established religion of the day in no way predicts that they might not be absolutely rigidly dogmatic among themselves. Your comment fails in logic and in practice because we observe that non-conformist sects of all kinds are very often notably ‘conformist’ within the walls of their sect. One could list dozens of examples.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago

Even on Unherd there is a herd and I am always concerned when I find myself outside of it… but unlike most of the comments here, I actually did not find this to be an enlightening or insightful interview.
On the contrary, Dr. McGilchrist’s comments seem to me to be too vague and abstracted to mean much, irrefutable in their generality. Regardless of the physical connection between the hemispheres inside the cranium, hasn’t it always been obvious that there are different ways of thinking and seeing, and that successful societies benefit from all of them? This does not seem like a very interesting or controversial observation. We can slice those differences variously – instrumental vs. abstract, particular vs. general, rational vs. creative, immanent vs. transcendent, masculine vs. feminine, pragmatic vs. inspired, protective vs. nurturing, etc. None of these categories are adequate and neither is his – because none could be. We’re talking about the entirety of the human experience here! Put it this way: was John Stuart Mill (to pick a totally random example!) a right- or left-brain thinker? Whatever the answer might be, it would tell us little about John Stuart Mill and much about ourselves via the categories we prefer.
And is the predominance of one particular way of thinking about to ruin everything? Perhaps… but the vague generality of the conclusion is revealed when you realize that on this analysis the interview could just as easily have been titled “left brain thinking built civilization.” Left-brain thinking dominates today – and so we have penicillin? And electrical appliances? And the Bill of Rights? So maybe the pendulum just needs to swing back a little bit the other way; “all things in moderation.” Yes, of course, who could disagree? But this is the wisdom of the ages, nothing more, nothing less.
And then I began to think that Dr. McGilchrist’s comments are themselves expressions of a certain over-dominance of left-brain thinking – reductive, instrumentalist, etc. Granted this was a casual interview, but still he jumps and leaps among historical tidbits-turned-cliches that I found misleading and frustrating. I mean, blaming the Puritans for their conformity is a bit much – they were Non-Conformists! Every society everywhere has always believed that *some* things are vital to the integrity and health of that society and must be believed or else you face ostracism or worse. The question is always and only “What are *our* society’s central lodestar values going to be?” And his answer to that question is something vague about universal spirituality – an answer which has never actually satisfied anyone anywhere, much less brought harmony to societies or peace to mankind. It is, in the end, a kind of intellectual cowardice masquerading as humility.
Anyhow, I am sure, as others have mentioned, that his book is much more persuasive. But I’m sorry to say that the interview did not inspire me to read it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
Doug Plumb
Doug Plumb
1 year ago

A modern society that has the complexities of ours must be organic. The organ that looks after the law and keeps us sane has been taken over by chimpanzees. If we actually had law and it could be administrated with the wisdom of a twelve-year-old, we would not be in half of this mess. We know the court officers swear allegiance to secret societies, those secret societies are gnostics and they have an agenda of hate. If we had any sense at all, cults would be illegal and people that are members of cults would not be allowed to practice law. The level of corruption in the courts is actually unbelievable and only a small portion of the population sees the inside of the courts. This corruption, hubris, and hypocrisy will prevent us from recovering our sanity. Exactly why the courts are so corrupt is explained in my simple book “Assholes and Bullshit”. Our courts are Platonic in the sense that the chimps are there to help their friends and harm their enemies. Basic Christian doctrine can be applied and the problems become glaring and obvious. We need to convert our existing courthouses into zoos so that everyone can look in the chimpanzee cage, see what went wrong, and understand and respect the law. I guess not everyone can talk like this and maintain their positions in society. I have no position, no great job, the insanity wasn’t worth it and I will not pay income tax – that is like throwing bananas into a chimp cage. I live in Canada and am speaking about what happened to the greatest intellectual achievement of mankind – the English common law.

Last edited 1 year ago by Doug Plumb
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Doug Plumb

Perhaps you should consider giving your book a different title? Something slightly less vulgar might be appropriate and encourage a larger readership?

Incidentally who are these “secret societies”, surely not Freemasons for example?

jo fairbank
jo fairbank
1 year ago

If he is to reach a larger audience surely it is the language of the common man – the multitude – that he needs to reach rather than the servants of the elite who lay down our laws increasingly it seems to the benefit of their masters?
As to secret societies what details do we have about discussions at the WEF? What do we know of the Bilderberg group and their discussions? There are other similar organisations to which many of our politicians belong. At the very least is there not a danger of group think? Where is the view of the demos heard surely not here… https://qz.com/701543/bilderberg-meeting-dresden-precariat

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago

Doug refers to the gnostics, so I’m guessing he’s referring to the various groups promoting Critical Theory (and all of the tentacles it’s produced, that have colonised the institutions).
Critical Theory followed Marxism (out of the Frankfurt School), and thought that Marx had not gone far enough. Horkheimer, Marcuse and Gramsci looked at the success of socialists and communists in seizing the means of production as being not nearly good enough. They viewed Marx’s ideas as too limiting — the people should not only be liberated within the economic paradigm, but within every paradigm, thus a revolution must occur that would be total. They borrow heavily from Marx and Foucault (so the fundamentals are hermetic – the dialectics – and gnostic, as was Marx’s key interest – the notion that hidden knowledge is what saves man).
In brief, for most of us the story of the garden of Eden is understood as: Humans were given everything (paradise) by God. The Devil tempted humanity and lead us into sin (as we are imperfect, unlike God). The moral of the story is to listen to God, and not be tempted toward sin.
The gnostics would look at the same story, but in their world view the Devil is the good guy. God has put humanity in the garden, but withholds the key to happiness and fulfilment – knowledge. The Devil tells humanity to ignore God and eat from the tree of knowledge, because he understands this is their path – to become God themselves. As above, so below. As below, so above. The goal of life is to obliterate the difference, and method is to obtain [hidden] knowledge.
It sounds bonkers, but for one thing, the doctrines of Critical Theory have permeated elite society, politics, academia, the sciences, and certainly (perhaps mostly) the supranational organisations. It hides under many names: Technocracy, Critical Race Theory (strong clue in the name there), Equity, Queer Theory, Sustainable Development, etc. I think people instinctively grasp this already, and hence phrases “cultural Marxism” and “cult of expertise”. But it isn’t strictly speaking Marxism, it’s Critical Theory, which is a much more total attempt at revolution, of every person, everywhere, and based on the gnostic ideas that man is redeemed (and become God himself) via hidden knowledge and transformation, and crucially (dangerously) there really is no meaningful distinction between right and wrong, in the manner that post-Enlightenment societies have always understood it.

jo fairbank
jo fairbank
1 year ago

If he is to reach a larger audience surely it is the language of the common man – the multitude – that he needs to reach rather than the servants of the elite who lay down our laws increasingly it seems to the benefit of their masters?
As to secret societies what details do we have about discussions at the WEF? What do we know of the Bilderberg group and their discussions? There are other similar organisations to which many of our politicians belong. At the very least is there not a danger of group think? Where is the view of the demos heard surely not here… https://qz.com/701543/bilderberg-meeting-dresden-precariat

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago

Doug refers to the gnostics, so I’m guessing he’s referring to the various groups promoting Critical Theory (and all of the tentacles it’s produced, that have colonised the institutions).
Critical Theory followed Marxism (out of the Frankfurt School), and thought that Marx had not gone far enough. Horkheimer, Marcuse and Gramsci looked at the success of socialists and communists in seizing the means of production as being not nearly good enough. They viewed Marx’s ideas as too limiting — the people should not only be liberated within the economic paradigm, but within every paradigm, thus a revolution must occur that would be total. They borrow heavily from Marx and Foucault (so the fundamentals are hermetic – the dialectics – and gnostic, as was Marx’s key interest – the notion that hidden knowledge is what saves man).
In brief, for most of us the story of the garden of Eden is understood as: Humans were given everything (paradise) by God. The Devil tempted humanity and lead us into sin (as we are imperfect, unlike God). The moral of the story is to listen to God, and not be tempted toward sin.
The gnostics would look at the same story, but in their world view the Devil is the good guy. God has put humanity in the garden, but withholds the key to happiness and fulfilment – knowledge. The Devil tells humanity to ignore God and eat from the tree of knowledge, because he understands this is their path – to become God themselves. As above, so below. As below, so above. The goal of life is to obliterate the difference, and method is to obtain [hidden] knowledge.
It sounds bonkers, but for one thing, the doctrines of Critical Theory have permeated elite society, politics, academia, the sciences, and certainly (perhaps mostly) the supranational organisations. It hides under many names: Technocracy, Critical Race Theory (strong clue in the name there), Equity, Queer Theory, Sustainable Development, etc. I think people instinctively grasp this already, and hence phrases “cultural Marxism” and “cult of expertise”. But it isn’t strictly speaking Marxism, it’s Critical Theory, which is a much more total attempt at revolution, of every person, everywhere, and based on the gnostic ideas that man is redeemed (and become God himself) via hidden knowledge and transformation, and crucially (dangerously) there really is no meaningful distinction between right and wrong, in the manner that post-Enlightenment societies have always understood it.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Doug Plumb

Perhaps you should consider giving your book a different title? Something slightly less vulgar might be appropriate and encourage a larger readership?

Incidentally who are these “secret societies”, surely not Freemasons for example?

Doug Plumb
Doug Plumb
1 year ago

A modern society that has the complexities of ours must be organic. The organ that looks after the law and keeps us sane has been taken over by chimpanzees. If we actually had law and it could be administrated with the wisdom of a twelve-year-old, we would not be in half of this mess. We know the court officers swear allegiance to secret societies, those secret societies are gnostics and they have an agenda of hate. If we had any sense at all, cults would be illegal and people that are members of cults would not be allowed to practice law. The level of corruption in the courts is actually unbelievable and only a small portion of the population sees the inside of the courts. This corruption, hubris, and hypocrisy will prevent us from recovering our sanity. Exactly why the courts are so corrupt is explained in my simple book “Assholes and Bullshit”. Our courts are Platonic in the sense that the chimps are there to help their friends and harm their enemies. Basic Christian doctrine can be applied and the problems become glaring and obvious. We need to convert our existing courthouses into zoos so that everyone can look in the chimpanzee cage, see what went wrong, and understand and respect the law. I guess not everyone can talk like this and maintain their positions in society. I have no position, no great job, the insanity wasn’t worth it and I will not pay income tax – that is like throwing bananas into a chimp cage. I live in Canada and am speaking about what happened to the greatest intellectual achievement of mankind – the English common law.

Last edited 1 year ago by Doug Plumb
BW Naylor
BW Naylor
1 year ago

‘Will’ destroy? Already has! We’ve raised a generation of people that have no ability to discern, let alone navigate, complexity. Except when it comes to gender expression and sexual preferences… where the sky is the limit, apparently.

Last edited 1 year ago by BW Naylor
Janos Abel
Janos Abel
1 year ago
Reply to  BW Naylor

“”We’ve raised a generation of people…”
With due respects, not “we, the people”, but state controlled and business funded schooling has created these generations (yes, not just one but many generations) of such people; although we have allowed it to happen because we are those stunted generations…
But this is a long story. Please don’t dismiss this inadequate signpost to it.

By uncaged and unherd

Last edited 1 year ago by Janos Abel
Janos Abel
Janos Abel
1 year ago
Reply to  BW Naylor

“”We’ve raised a generation of people…”
With due respects, not “we, the people”, but state controlled and business funded schooling has created these generations (yes, not just one but many generations) of such people; although we have allowed it to happen because we are those stunted generations…
But this is a long story. Please don’t dismiss this inadequate signpost to it.

By uncaged and unherd

Last edited 1 year ago by Janos Abel
BW Naylor
BW Naylor
1 year ago

‘Will’ destroy? Already has! We’ve raised a generation of people that have no ability to discern, let alone navigate, complexity. Except when it comes to gender expression and sexual preferences… where the sky is the limit, apparently.

Last edited 1 year ago by BW Naylor
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago

It’s always hard to argue against a prevailing point of view without going too far, even if only for rhetorical purposes, in the opposite direction. And I’m not sure that McGilchrist has even identified correctly the prevailing point of view in 2023.
I do agree that some people in our civilization (or any advanced civilization) have become too dependent on, to use his vocabulary, the brain’s left hemisphere. But I would add that other people, those who really are poised to prevail and destroy civilization in doing so, have become too dependent on the right hemisphere. Not all periods in the West have been as polarized as the current one, but conflict between the Enlightenment and Romanticism is as brutal now as it ever was the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (And I must add here that Romanticism has been the source not only of beautiful art, music and poetry but also of nationalism and its destructive racial ideologies). The problem is not that our civilization has somehow chosen the wrong hemisphere to value but that we haven’t managed to value both of them. Perhaps unwittingly, he trivializes the left hemisphere. Worse, his title indicates that this hemisphere endangers civilization itself. Even though he acknowledges that its preoccupation with focus, clarity and certainty has had survival value (and it surely does, although he doesn’t say so, in today’s rabidly anti-intellectual context), his choice of words indicates disdain for it. By implication, he’s among those who glorify feeling at the expense of thinking. He explicitly prefers a “holistic” attitude, moreover, which he identifies with the right hemisphere. But the word “holistic” would have no meaning if it were to dominate the left hemisphere.
So the pendulum continues to swing between two extremes. I don’t think that McGilchrist intended to suggest that we choose one or the other, but he chose a polemical format to make his argument. It doesn’t work for me. And it surely won’t do anything to challenge the reign of wokism. 

Phil Richardson
Phil Richardson
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I think these comments might be a fair response to an article that takes a few minutes to read and is inevitably somewhat reductive. If you were to take the time (and fork out the cash) to read ‘The Matter with Things’ you’ll find a stunning synthesis that in no way ‘trivialises’ any aspect of the brain’s function. But neither can it easily be weaponised against any of our current social ills.

Phil Richardson
Phil Richardson
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I think these comments might be a fair response to an article that takes a few minutes to read and is inevitably somewhat reductive. If you were to take the time (and fork out the cash) to read ‘The Matter with Things’ you’ll find a stunning synthesis that in no way ‘trivialises’ any aspect of the brain’s function. But neither can it easily be weaponised against any of our current social ills.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago

It’s always hard to argue against a prevailing point of view without going too far, even if only for rhetorical purposes, in the opposite direction. And I’m not sure that McGilchrist has even identified correctly the prevailing point of view in 2023.
I do agree that some people in our civilization (or any advanced civilization) have become too dependent on, to use his vocabulary, the brain’s left hemisphere. But I would add that other people, those who really are poised to prevail and destroy civilization in doing so, have become too dependent on the right hemisphere. Not all periods in the West have been as polarized as the current one, but conflict between the Enlightenment and Romanticism is as brutal now as it ever was the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (And I must add here that Romanticism has been the source not only of beautiful art, music and poetry but also of nationalism and its destructive racial ideologies). The problem is not that our civilization has somehow chosen the wrong hemisphere to value but that we haven’t managed to value both of them. Perhaps unwittingly, he trivializes the left hemisphere. Worse, his title indicates that this hemisphere endangers civilization itself. Even though he acknowledges that its preoccupation with focus, clarity and certainty has had survival value (and it surely does, although he doesn’t say so, in today’s rabidly anti-intellectual context), his choice of words indicates disdain for it. By implication, he’s among those who glorify feeling at the expense of thinking. He explicitly prefers a “holistic” attitude, moreover, which he identifies with the right hemisphere. But the word “holistic” would have no meaning if it were to dominate the left hemisphere.
So the pendulum continues to swing between two extremes. I don’t think that McGilchrist intended to suggest that we choose one or the other, but he chose a polemical format to make his argument. It doesn’t work for me. And it surely won’t do anything to challenge the reign of wokism. 

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Undoubtedly A.N. Whitehead’s most perceptive remark was “The safest general characterisation of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato”.

Plato died in 424/423 BC.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Undoubtedly A.N. Whitehead’s most perceptive remark was “The safest general characterisation of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato”.

Plato died in 424/423 BC.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

An interesting read and very thought provoking, and yet…
The title (which an editor may have chosen) “Left-brain thinking will destroy civilisation” catches the attention but is it true? Could you also assert that “Right-brain thinking will destroy civilisation”? Too much of either might be a bad thing.
Yes you can argue that Left-brain bureaucracy is sapping the joy out of life on the way to totalitarianism, but equally the Right brain fervour of advocates for Net Zero could be just as harmful.
Arguing for an appropriate balance between modern day Enlightenment and modern day Romanticism is a much harder task.

Richard Millard
Richard Millard
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Here’s what he says:

Things work well as long as the left hemisphere is carrying out work it’s deputed to do by the right hemisphere. Rather like we use a computer. The computer doesn’t really understand the data we draw from the complexity of life. That’s not its job: its job is to process data very fast, and hand us back some that we then make sense of.

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Millard
Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Balance is the key, which we cannot and never will attain. I wonder why?

Richard Millard
Richard Millard
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Here’s what he says:

Things work well as long as the left hemisphere is carrying out work it’s deputed to do by the right hemisphere. Rather like we use a computer. The computer doesn’t really understand the data we draw from the complexity of life. That’s not its job: its job is to process data very fast, and hand us back some that we then make sense of.

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Millard
Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Balance is the key, which we cannot and never will attain. I wonder why?

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

An interesting read and very thought provoking, and yet…
The title (which an editor may have chosen) “Left-brain thinking will destroy civilisation” catches the attention but is it true? Could you also assert that “Right-brain thinking will destroy civilisation”? Too much of either might be a bad thing.
Yes you can argue that Left-brain bureaucracy is sapping the joy out of life on the way to totalitarianism, but equally the Right brain fervour of advocates for Net Zero could be just as harmful.
Arguing for an appropriate balance between modern day Enlightenment and modern day Romanticism is a much harder task.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

Very interesting – I’m sorry I missed this event. I think the distinction between focused attention and comprehensive attention is fundamental, and is why it is so difficult to explain the effect of great pictures, music and poetry except in unsatisfactory technical terms. I’m a bit more sceptical about his historical generalisations, but I will ponder.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

Very interesting – I’m sorry I missed this event. I think the distinction between focused attention and comprehensive attention is fundamental, and is why it is so difficult to explain the effect of great pictures, music and poetry except in unsatisfactory technical terms. I’m a bit more sceptical about his historical generalisations, but I will ponder.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jonathan Nash
Gordon Hughes
Gordon Hughes
1 year ago

The comment about the pernicious effects of the explosion of bureaucracy will ring all too true to many who experience it. However, there is a serious but. Bureaucracy may be a way of converting experimental or ad hoc procedures into routine good practice. That is a large part of the story behind immense improvements in the safety of air travel, surgery and medical practice more generally. Put differently, how do you ensure that mediocre practitioners get close to the performance of the most skilled and experienced practitioners. Checklists and standardised procedures are a way of doing that – in effect routinising good practice.
The problem is twofold. First, the way in which bureaucracy is adopted and implemented often goes along with a complete lack of trust in the competence of practitioners. That is what McGilchrist referred to in his example because what the manager was doing, in effect, was questioning the judgement of the consultant. The conclusion – why be a practitioner or consultant if those who you work with don’t trust your competence? – is inevitable. Still, there are incompetent or dishonest practitioners who insiders are all too often reluctant to identify and deal with.
Second, those who are good at creating or managing bureaucracy are all too often incompetent or unskilled practitioners who have a very strong incentive to play down the value of skills and experience in order to boost their own status and credentials.
Some of this is driven by legally-driven requirements for visible procedures which override discretion. Most types of law recognise that judgement, skills and experience are critical in many circumstances – hence the emphasis on “reasonableness”. The problem is that large organisations want certainty in conditions when that is not possible.
There is, of course, no real answer other than a continuous process of balancing different considerations. Organisations who veer too much in one direction or the other eventually die, either from paralysis and excessive costs or the unfettered consequences of individual incompetence.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Gordon Hughes

Thumbs up for the helpful reminder of the counterargument… that said, I do think there is an ‘answer’ – we need smaller polities (governments, organizations, corporations, charities, etc.) with smaller bureaucracies. There are lots of reasons for this… but they all basically boil down to diversity (of culture and thought) and accountability (from the institution to its users/voters/consumers/etc.). Too large institutions easily become the fiefdoms of the bureaucrats. To be sure, “scaling down” comes at an economic/efficiency cost – but if we were all a little poorer, we’d all be so much richer.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Gordon Hughes

Thumbs up for the helpful reminder of the counterargument… that said, I do think there is an ‘answer’ – we need smaller polities (governments, organizations, corporations, charities, etc.) with smaller bureaucracies. There are lots of reasons for this… but they all basically boil down to diversity (of culture and thought) and accountability (from the institution to its users/voters/consumers/etc.). Too large institutions easily become the fiefdoms of the bureaucrats. To be sure, “scaling down” comes at an economic/efficiency cost – but if we were all a little poorer, we’d all be so much richer.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
Gordon Hughes
Gordon Hughes
1 year ago

The comment about the pernicious effects of the explosion of bureaucracy will ring all too true to many who experience it. However, there is a serious but. Bureaucracy may be a way of converting experimental or ad hoc procedures into routine good practice. That is a large part of the story behind immense improvements in the safety of air travel, surgery and medical practice more generally. Put differently, how do you ensure that mediocre practitioners get close to the performance of the most skilled and experienced practitioners. Checklists and standardised procedures are a way of doing that – in effect routinising good practice.
The problem is twofold. First, the way in which bureaucracy is adopted and implemented often goes along with a complete lack of trust in the competence of practitioners. That is what McGilchrist referred to in his example because what the manager was doing, in effect, was questioning the judgement of the consultant. The conclusion – why be a practitioner or consultant if those who you work with don’t trust your competence? – is inevitable. Still, there are incompetent or dishonest practitioners who insiders are all too often reluctant to identify and deal with.
Second, those who are good at creating or managing bureaucracy are all too often incompetent or unskilled practitioners who have a very strong incentive to play down the value of skills and experience in order to boost their own status and credentials.
Some of this is driven by legally-driven requirements for visible procedures which override discretion. Most types of law recognise that judgement, skills and experience are critical in many circumstances – hence the emphasis on “reasonableness”. The problem is that large organisations want certainty in conditions when that is not possible.
There is, of course, no real answer other than a continuous process of balancing different considerations. Organisations who veer too much in one direction or the other eventually die, either from paralysis and excessive costs or the unfettered consequences of individual incompetence.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

A fascinating and excellent piece: as a right brainer, I find left brainers not only alien, but incredibly difficult to get on with, and would subscribe to the view that, not least because IT gnomes are left brainers, the world is being sequestered by them.

Bruce V
Bruce V
1 year ago

Speaking on behalf of IT gnomes everywhere I’d say: “we just want caffeine, pizza and ***”
It might surprise people but many software developer gnomes were first attracted to the field because there’s an undeniable creative aspect to it. Sort of a cross between what I imagine sculpture and architecture to be like. This of course gets punished (i.e. managed) in the corporate world. So, we may not be that dissimilar after all. Except of course for our poor social skills and bad personal hygiene.
Yes, very good article.   

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruce V
Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce V

Not a ‘gnome’ but a 60/40 lefty who also sees both sides. A point well made: all left v. right warriors ought to stretch across a divide that, really, only they perceive. We’re all better than that really!

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce V

Not a ‘gnome’ but a 60/40 lefty who also sees both sides. A point well made: all left v. right warriors ought to stretch across a divide that, really, only they perceive. We’re all better than that really!

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy Aitch
Bruce V
Bruce V
1 year ago

Speaking on behalf of IT gnomes everywhere I’d say: “we just want caffeine, pizza and ***”
It might surprise people but many software developer gnomes were first attracted to the field because there’s an undeniable creative aspect to it. Sort of a cross between what I imagine sculpture and architecture to be like. This of course gets punished (i.e. managed) in the corporate world. So, we may not be that dissimilar after all. Except of course for our poor social skills and bad personal hygiene.
Yes, very good article.   

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruce V
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

A fascinating and excellent piece: as a right brainer, I find left brainers not only alien, but incredibly difficult to get on with, and would subscribe to the view that, not least because IT gnomes are left brainers, the world is being sequestered by them.

Vanessa Dylyn
Vanessa Dylyn
1 year ago

Wonderful interview with Iain McGilchrist. A documentary film called The Divided Brain, broadcast by the CBC, gives a good overview of McGilchrist’s thought and work; and includes interviews with scientists of opposing views. Available on the website The Divided Brain.

Vanessa Dylyn
Vanessa Dylyn
1 year ago

Wonderful interview with Iain McGilchrist. A documentary film called The Divided Brain, broadcast by the CBC, gives a good overview of McGilchrist’s thought and work; and includes interviews with scientists of opposing views. Available on the website The Divided Brain.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
1 year ago

Interesting parallels with “Our Illiberal Empire of Rights” by John Gray in June 2019 Unherd. Gray argued that seeing all political disputes as arguments over “rights”, to be confirmed by the judiciary, rather than reasonable differences of opinion to be resolved through negotiation and compromise, was undemocratic. The “rights” fanatics are, it seems to me, very left-brain. Those willing to compromise and understand others, right-brain.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
1 year ago

Interesting parallels with “Our Illiberal Empire of Rights” by John Gray in June 2019 Unherd. Gray argued that seeing all political disputes as arguments over “rights”, to be confirmed by the judiciary, rather than reasonable differences of opinion to be resolved through negotiation and compromise, was undemocratic. The “rights” fanatics are, it seems to me, very left-brain. Those willing to compromise and understand others, right-brain.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

I enjoyed it, but it kind of really was a bit of a circular argument that he does believe there is spirit, say, which gives meaning. If we ignore it, and just be Left brain, meaning is lost to mechanistic processes.

As he said, using an ontological argument (that than which nothing can be greater). to prove an ultimate exists

kind of that spirit exists because there is ultimate meaning (in refutation to Modernism and Postmodernism atheist existentialism, say). And because ultimate meaning exists there is spirit. (haha)

He called it some kind of Pantheism, and even that spirit is a phase of matter existing as, and in, All the cosmos – but really, if you dig deep into his cosmology, it is Jedi. ‘Feel the Force Luke, it is all around you, it is in everything,,, the direct quote from the movie (dude where’s my car)

” Nelson : Deep inside your consciousness you must look. Concentrate on the knowledge inside you must. Zelmina, Space Nerd #3 : Does he have to talk like that? Christie b***r : I like the way you talk.
haha – but although I agree with McGilchrest 100% on how much I despise Nihilism and existentialism, and poststructuralism, and even Utilitarianism – he stands back from saying what I feel must be said:

That that is Evil, that it hates good which is why it refutes it by negating it. See, that is the problem with his cosmology – It has good as inherent, but skips actual malevolent evil.

If you ever have made it to tour Auschwitz it is quite a experience. One can feel Evil – it is as clear as the sun shining, it is all around…Weird – and I have felt it in other places. If you have felt evil – you believe.

Pick and Chose Pantheism – bit of Hindu, touch of Buddha, dash of Shinto, some Victorian ‘Benevolent Pantheism’ from the Romantic Poets (he does think poetry is in its own realm)….. It is not a religion, it is Hippy Spiritualism. It is a lazy cop-out. (to me)

His whole thing – – Left brain, the mechanical watchmaker and fileofax, right brain, the creativity, compassion, love, poetry, art…..Gray and white, no black – no Dualism…….I do not believe it…..

Instead of good and evil he has good and Nilos, nothing. And he says Nothing is winning now (left Brain, Modernism) This horror of the Liberal Left; Left Brain existentialism is just – what? lack of creativity? No it is Evil, it is Satanic.

He lives on Sky – I recommend some good Anchorite biographies. Maybe the Desert Fathers, Mont Athos – I find his cosmology as bleak as he finds the modernists….. Oh, well…

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Referencing the other of today’s Unherd offerings, an example of Dark Satanic Mill?

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I think you are overly simplifying his world view. Read his book “The Matter With Things” and then comment. I don’t find it circular or simplistic at all. More like “integrative”.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Referencing the other of today’s Unherd offerings, an example of Dark Satanic Mill?

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I think you are overly simplifying his world view. Read his book “The Matter With Things” and then comment. I don’t find it circular or simplistic at all. More like “integrative”.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

I enjoyed it, but it kind of really was a bit of a circular argument that he does believe there is spirit, say, which gives meaning. If we ignore it, and just be Left brain, meaning is lost to mechanistic processes.

As he said, using an ontological argument (that than which nothing can be greater). to prove an ultimate exists

kind of that spirit exists because there is ultimate meaning (in refutation to Modernism and Postmodernism atheist existentialism, say). And because ultimate meaning exists there is spirit. (haha)

He called it some kind of Pantheism, and even that spirit is a phase of matter existing as, and in, All the cosmos – but really, if you dig deep into his cosmology, it is Jedi. ‘Feel the Force Luke, it is all around you, it is in everything,,, the direct quote from the movie (dude where’s my car)

” Nelson : Deep inside your consciousness you must look. Concentrate on the knowledge inside you must. Zelmina, Space Nerd #3 : Does he have to talk like that? Christie b***r : I like the way you talk.
haha – but although I agree with McGilchrest 100% on how much I despise Nihilism and existentialism, and poststructuralism, and even Utilitarianism – he stands back from saying what I feel must be said:

That that is Evil, that it hates good which is why it refutes it by negating it. See, that is the problem with his cosmology – It has good as inherent, but skips actual malevolent evil.

If you ever have made it to tour Auschwitz it is quite a experience. One can feel Evil – it is as clear as the sun shining, it is all around…Weird – and I have felt it in other places. If you have felt evil – you believe.

Pick and Chose Pantheism – bit of Hindu, touch of Buddha, dash of Shinto, some Victorian ‘Benevolent Pantheism’ from the Romantic Poets (he does think poetry is in its own realm)….. It is not a religion, it is Hippy Spiritualism. It is a lazy cop-out. (to me)

His whole thing – – Left brain, the mechanical watchmaker and fileofax, right brain, the creativity, compassion, love, poetry, art…..Gray and white, no black – no Dualism…….I do not believe it…..

Instead of good and evil he has good and Nilos, nothing. And he says Nothing is winning now (left Brain, Modernism) This horror of the Liberal Left; Left Brain existentialism is just – what? lack of creativity? No it is Evil, it is Satanic.

He lives on Sky – I recommend some good Anchorite biographies. Maybe the Desert Fathers, Mont Athos – I find his cosmology as bleak as he finds the modernists….. Oh, well…

andy young
andy young
1 year ago

Excellent article. There are so many comments I would love to make, but I’m trapped in a world of left brained mundanity at the moment – although it’s right brained Love that’s making me do it. I reckon another year (tops) & I’ll be finished the near Sisyphean task I’ve taken on. If I haven’t shuffled off by then I’m hoping to start seriously engaging my brain (both sides) again.

andy young
andy young
1 year ago

Excellent article. There are so many comments I would love to make, but I’m trapped in a world of left brained mundanity at the moment – although it’s right brained Love that’s making me do it. I reckon another year (tops) & I’ll be finished the near Sisyphean task I’ve taken on. If I haven’t shuffled off by then I’m hoping to start seriously engaging my brain (both sides) again.

David Pogge
David Pogge
1 year ago

I don’t know what is more striking, the trivializing of the true complexity of neuroscience or the facile application of a jargon-based fantasy to the real issues of the world. The same points could be made without a bogus effort to ‘neuroscientize’ them, and one might then be able to take them more seriously.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  David Pogge

The most erudite comment so far, thank you.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  David Pogge

The most erudite comment so far, thank you.

David Pogge
David Pogge
1 year ago

I don’t know what is more striking, the trivializing of the true complexity of neuroscience or the facile application of a jargon-based fantasy to the real issues of the world. The same points could be made without a bogus effort to ‘neuroscientize’ them, and one might then be able to take them more seriously.

edward coyle
edward coyle
1 year ago

I read this with interest. Jumping from basic neuroscience to civilisation is always a tricky step. But intriguing. As I read this the quotation from William Blake , in his early prophetic work ‘The marriage of heaven and hell’ – the tygers (sic) of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.’ And one does certainly feel the horses of instruction have the upper hand these days. Thought provoking

edward coyle
edward coyle
1 year ago
Reply to  edward coyle

The quotation came to mind –

edward coyle
edward coyle
1 year ago
Reply to  edward coyle

The quotation came to mind –

edward coyle
edward coyle
1 year ago

I read this with interest. Jumping from basic neuroscience to civilisation is always a tricky step. But intriguing. As I read this the quotation from William Blake , in his early prophetic work ‘The marriage of heaven and hell’ – the tygers (sic) of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.’ And one does certainly feel the horses of instruction have the upper hand these days. Thought provoking

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago

Nice discussion, but it seems to me that our current state religion, wokeness, is most surely not suffering from too much scientific reductionism and dry logic.

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago

Nice discussion, but it seems to me that our current state religion, wokeness, is most surely not suffering from too much scientific reductionism and dry logic.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

The right brainers find having to undertake so much of life via internet/ on line extremely difficult, and this is the final takeover of the left brainers.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

The right brainers find having to undertake so much of life via internet/ on line extremely difficult, and this is the final takeover of the left brainers.

Paolo Canonica
Paolo Canonica
1 year ago

I think this is a series of sound points. A little ironic though that to reach the conclusion that society should be more holistic McGilchrist feels the need to constantly refer to the brain – a very reductionist explanation!

Paolo Canonica
Paolo Canonica
1 year ago

I think this is a series of sound points. A little ironic though that to reach the conclusion that society should be more holistic McGilchrist feels the need to constantly refer to the brain – a very reductionist explanation!

Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox
1 year ago

As fellow medics I have discussed The Master and his emissary extensively with my father. We do have different perspectives probably due to the generational differences, I feel that the concept of left and right brain that Dr Mcgilchrist uses seems to be too simple and binary for such a complex system as modern life. He does discuss complexity ( I have simple, complicated and complex written on my wall at work to remind myself) but then seems to push too hard for the world to fit into his way of describing it.
Always fascinating to hear him and helps me reflect on how I would describe my life and the patients I see.
Thank you UnHerd

Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox
1 year ago

As fellow medics I have discussed The Master and his emissary extensively with my father. We do have different perspectives probably due to the generational differences, I feel that the concept of left and right brain that Dr Mcgilchrist uses seems to be too simple and binary for such a complex system as modern life. He does discuss complexity ( I have simple, complicated and complex written on my wall at work to remind myself) but then seems to push too hard for the world to fit into his way of describing it.
Always fascinating to hear him and helps me reflect on how I would describe my life and the patients I see.
Thank you UnHerd

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

This is the clearest understanding I can recall reading of why we are descending into an oligarchic tyranny where people must conceal any stray thought that departs from official approval. The Chinese are showing the way but we’re right on their heels.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

This is the clearest understanding I can recall reading of why we are descending into an oligarchic tyranny where people must conceal any stray thought that departs from official approval. The Chinese are showing the way but we’re right on their heels.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago

A very informative article. The question that I would like ask is whether there is any link between this theory and Joseph Trainter’s ideas on the collapse of complex societies!?

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
1 year ago

A very informative article. The question that I would like ask is whether there is any link between this theory and Joseph Trainter’s ideas on the collapse of complex societies!?

Roger Tilbury
Roger Tilbury
1 year ago

Fascinating analysis and would explain a lot if it’s right.
Increasing screen time with left brain attention dominating would support it.
Question 2 interesting and explains why AI poetry is so awful.

Roger Tilbury
Roger Tilbury
1 year ago

Fascinating analysis and would explain a lot if it’s right.
Increasing screen time with left brain attention dominating would support it.
Question 2 interesting and explains why AI poetry is so awful.

Chuck Pezeshki
Chuck Pezeshki
1 year ago

I always like reading summaries of Iain’s work — I think this is a good one. The thing I find interesting is that the fragmentation he points out is also present in his own thinking. There also is no path to go more deeply into “how did knowledge get created in the first place?” Or how brains get programmed in the first place.
The answer to these questions exist (I have them) but I am not famous, and will never get to talk to someone like him. But for those that might wonder — here you go. https://empathy.guru/2019/04/06/what-is-structural-memetics-and-why-does-it-matter/

Chuck Pezeshki
Chuck Pezeshki
1 year ago

I always like reading summaries of Iain’s work — I think this is a good one. The thing I find interesting is that the fragmentation he points out is also present in his own thinking. There also is no path to go more deeply into “how did knowledge get created in the first place?” Or how brains get programmed in the first place.
The answer to these questions exist (I have them) but I am not famous, and will never get to talk to someone like him. But for those that might wonder — here you go. https://empathy.guru/2019/04/06/what-is-structural-memetics-and-why-does-it-matter/

Frederick Leigh
Frederick Leigh
1 year ago

The world needs less ideology, fewer false dichotomies and less reductionism masquerading as science to promote misinformation. All these inherently cause division and conflict. We need more holistic systemic approaches to our problems. We need less of that which divides us and more that unites us in freedom and love.

Frederick Leigh
Frederick Leigh
1 year ago

The world needs less ideology, fewer false dichotomies and less reductionism masquerading as science to promote misinformation. All these inherently cause division and conflict. We need more holistic systemic approaches to our problems. We need less of that which divides us and more that unites us in freedom and love.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Sort of Article that makes the subscription worth wading through some occasional dross. And Freddie didn’t seem to come at it with any particular thesis looking for an echo. Just good inquisitiveness and promptings. Really good.
I wonder if McGilchrist would though caution us to avoid too much generalisation of the Left and Right theory but we run away with it. His open-mindedness was almost contrary to the general theme of his theory. What is it 93billion or so neurons in the Brain thus with trillions of interconnections? – we understand so much more than we did even a couple of decades ago, esp with fMRI, but we remain v much in the foothills of comprehension of our most intriguing and mysterious organ.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Sort of Article that makes the subscription worth wading through some occasional dross. And Freddie didn’t seem to come at it with any particular thesis looking for an echo. Just good inquisitiveness and promptings. Really good.
I wonder if McGilchrist would though caution us to avoid too much generalisation of the Left and Right theory but we run away with it. His open-mindedness was almost contrary to the general theme of his theory. What is it 93billion or so neurons in the Brain thus with trillions of interconnections? – we understand so much more than we did even a couple of decades ago, esp with fMRI, but we remain v much in the foothills of comprehension of our most intriguing and mysterious organ.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Tom More
Tom More
1 year ago

All of this points to the “final cause” we largely lost sight of due to the massive error of Ockham who denied that in knowing, the mind becomes object known as Aquinas and Aristotle’s foundational sanity affirmed.
Essence and existence. Essence is the distinctness we find in existence. After this 14th century error of the Franciscan monk Ockham at Oxford, came along Hume’s self refuting epistemology and dogmatic incoherence.
We lost our understanding of God alive in His creation, of Truth, Beauty and Goodness.
So today I find myself a huge fan of Thomistic metaphysics and its affirmation that being is grounded in intelligible BEING , necessarily PERSON who again necessarily transcends our being and capacity to know but Who can share BEING with us. Person to person.
Our “final cause”, the ground of being and why being is ordered towards love and the transcendent. I am so very grateful to have been led to the rediscovery of this classic underpinning of life itself.
This was a terrific interview pointing in the same direction. Final cause. Meaning. Purpose. Love.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom More

Ockham was a Franciscan FRIAR, a Mendicant, and NOT a Monk.
The two are entirely different as you should well know.

As you obviously don’t, it rather invalidates the rest of your somewhat specious argument.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

us ” Benedictines”, of course, do!

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago

“As you obviously don’t, it rather invalidates the rest of your somewhat specious argument.”
That’s a strange conclusion. One might study the thoughts of a philosopher in great detail and yet still make some trivial error when discussing him. Friar, not monk — does it impact on TM’s comment? And are they ‘entirely’ different, or is the difference really a rather fine point? Might it have been sufficient to say that Ockham was a churchman?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

It indicates that he is not a master of his subject does it not? I’m surprised that you trivialised it.

As to the rest of his case where shall I start? In TM’s first post, 20 hrs ago, he made this extraordinary statement:-
“it was the religious, Catholics in fact who introduced
the genius of Greek philosophical realism and showed how it dovetailed with traditional monotheism. Which it does.”

Leaving aside the unusual syntax, that is a truly preposterous statement, a blatant attempt to validate Christianity by any means possible.

We all know that neither Christ, (St) Paul, Augustine or Aquinas would have lasted more than 30 seconds in in front of either the Athenian Lyceum or Plato’s Academy. To have faith is to have a closed mind, which was completely incompatible with the Greek philosophical tradition.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

It indicates that he is not a master of his subject does it not? I’m surprised that you trivialised it.

As to the rest of his case where shall I start? In TM’s first post, 20 hrs ago, he made this extraordinary statement:-
“it was the religious, Catholics in fact who introduced
the genius of Greek philosophical realism and showed how it dovetailed with traditional monotheism. Which it does.”

Leaving aside the unusual syntax, that is a truly preposterous statement, a blatant attempt to validate Christianity by any means possible.

We all know that neither Christ, (St) Paul, Augustine or Aquinas would have lasted more than 30 seconds in in front of either the Athenian Lyceum or Plato’s Academy. To have faith is to have a closed mind, which was completely incompatible with the Greek philosophical tradition.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

us ” Benedictines”, of course, do!