Notes and highlights for
The Master and His Emissary
McGilchrist, Iain

Preface to the New Expanded Edition

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we need to think much more in terms of widely distributed networks , rather than , as we used to do , primarily in terms of ‘ modules ’ .

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The hemispheres are vastly more connected within themselves than they are connected to one another ,

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it provides a more or less convincing account of experience , and does not depend on scientific data one way or the other to carry that conviction . You take it or leave it , depending on whether it makes better sense of your experience than any competing model

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An enormous number of observations enormously varied in kind are all consistent with this theory , and many of them are consistent with no other theory that has been proposed . We therefore can and , if we are rational , must have an extremely high degree of confidence in the theory … 6

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Even on sustained introspection , we can be only indirectly aware of the fact that reality is constructed from two incompatible world views .

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between a quarter and a third of children aged as old as five to seven are now having to be taught how to read the human face ,

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If a neuropsychologist had to choose three things to characterise most clearly the functional contribution of the right hemisphere , they would most probably be the capacity to read the human face , the capacity to sustain vigilant attention , and the capacity to empathise .

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the self - reinforcing , recursive nature of the left hemisphere’s world , a world subject to positive feedback .

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the left - hemisphere view is designed to aid you in grabbing stuff . Its purpose is utility and its evolutionary adaptation lies in the service of grasping and amassing ‘ things ’ .

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finding the language to put across the way of being of the right hemisphere is simply harder than doing so for the naturally explicit left hemisphere .

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The left hemisphere relies on concatenations of serial propositions and the literal aspects of language to make meaning explicit ; by contrast , metaphor and narrative are often required to convey the implicit meanings available to the right hemisphere , and

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We live in an era where articulating and making explicit are of increasing importance and are treated as a mark of truth , and their inverse treated with increasing suspicion .

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we have created a world around us which , in contrast to the natural world , reflects the left hemisphere’s priorities and its vision . Today all the available sources of intuitive life – the natural world , cultural tradition , the body , religion and art – have been so conceptualised , devitalised and ‘ deconstructed ’ ( ironised ) by self - consciousness , explicitness and the systems and theories used to analyse them , that their power to help us see intuitively beyond the hermetic world that the left hemisphere has set up has been largely drained from them .

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The right hemisphere’s view is inclusive , ‘ both / and ’ , synthetic , integrative ; it realises the need for both . The left hemisphere’s view is exclusive , ‘ either / or ’ , analytic and fragmentary – but , crucially , unaware of what it is missing . It therefore thinks it can go it alone .

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when , as in our society , our thinking is no longer embodied in the practices , traditions and rituals of a community , but is developed in explicit , public , often political debate , where much of its subtlety , and tolerance of necessary ambiguity , gets lost .

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if we are to survive , we need not just a few new measures , but a complete change of heart and mind .

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the left hemisphere’s vision of a mechanistic world , an atomistic society , a world in which competition is more important than collaboration ; a world in which nature is a heap of resource there for our exploitation , in which only humans count , and yet humans are only machines

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as Henry Thoreau put it , ‘ The question is not what you look at , but what you see . ’ 8

Part One   The Divided Brain

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The right hemisphere , with its greater integrative power , is constantly searching for patterns in things . In fact its understanding is based on complex pattern recognition .