Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World


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Published USA, 2019 (2nd edition)
Based on a vast body of experimental research, Iain McGilchrist argues that the left and right hemispheres have differing insights, values and priorities. Each has a distinct take on the world. Most strikingly, the right hemisphere sees itself as connected to the world, whereas the left hemisphere stands aloof from it. This affects our understanding not just of language and reason, music and time, but of all living things: our bodies, ourselves and the world in which we live. We need both hemispheres but, the author argues, the left hemisphere has become so far dominant that we are in danger of forgetting everything that makes us human. Iain McGilchrist takes us on an extraordinary journey through Western history and culture. He traces how the left hemisphere has grabbed more than its fair share of power, resulting in a society where a rigid and bureaucratic obsession with structure, narrow self-interest and a mechanistic view of the world holds sway at an enormous cost to human happiness and the world around us.

Iain McGilchrist is a former consultant psychiatrist and now works privately in London.
Paperback. 534 pages

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