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

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 2009 - History - 597 pages
5 Reviews

Why is the brain divided? The difference between right and left hemispheres has been puzzled over for centuries. In a book of unprecedented scope, Iain McGilchrist draws on a vast body of recent brain research, illustrated with case histories, to reveal that the difference is profound—not just this or that function, but two whole, coherent, but incompatible ways of experiencing the world. The left hemisphere is detail oriented, prefers mechanisms to living things, and is inclined to self-interest, where the right hemisphere has greater breadth, flexibility, and generosity. This division helps explain the origins of music and language, and casts new light on the history of philosophy, as well as on some mental illnesses.

In the second part of the book, McGilchrist takes the reader on a journey through the history of Western culture, illustrating the tension between these two worlds as revealed in the thought and belief of thinkers and artists, from Aeschylus to Magritte. He argues that, despite its inferior grasp of reality, the left hemisphere is increasingly taking precedence in the modern world, with potentially disastrous consequences. This is truly a tour de force that should excite interest in a wide readership.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4
4 stars
0
3 stars
0
2 stars
1
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - stevetempo - LibraryThing

This work is not for everyone, but I give my highest recommendation. If you have ever had an interest in the brain, consciousness, or how we all perceive and engage the world, this might your cup of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AlbertoGiuseppe - LibraryThing

A marvelous, herculean tome which points in the direction of how and where multidisciplinary studies could and should be heading in cogsci. and elsewhere. Even just the footnotes are a fountain of ... Read full review

Contents

The Master and His Emissary
1
THE DIVIDED BRAIN
15
Asymmetry and the Brain
16
What do the Two Hemispheres Do?
32
Language Truth and Music
94
The Nature of the Two Worlds
133
The Primacy of the Right Hemisphere
176
The Triumph of the Left Hemisphere
209
The Ancient World
257
The Renaissance and the Reformation
298
The Enlightenment
330
Romanticism and the Industrial Revolution
352
The Modern and PostModern Worlds
389
The Master Betrayed
428
Notes
463
Bibliography
518

HOW THE BRAIN HAS SHAPED OUR WORLD
239
Imitation and the Evolution of Culture
240

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Iain McGilchrist is a former Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, where he taught literature before training in medicine. He was Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director at the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospital, London, and has researched in neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. He now works privately in London and otherwise lives on the Isle of Skye.

Bibliographic information