Introductory dialogue in a series (of 6?)
Series title: “Attention as a Moral Act”
(Upcoming 2nd one on “Valueception”.)
McGilchrist Objective? – the opening para of the Intro to TMWT says it.
[Quote added – hat-tip Artun]
“I believe we have systematically misunderstood the nature of reality, and chosen to ignore, or silence, the minority of voices that have intuited as much and consistently maintained that this is the case. Now we have reached the point where there is an urgent need to transform both how we think of the world and what we make of ourselves; attempting to convey such a richer insight is the ambition of this book.”
Polymathic? – Trivium – interest from childhood and Winchester school.
Sacred connection? – from a godless household discovered theological interest in the arts and classics as an undergraduate – before his Oxford PPE / philosophy / history / literature / classics post-graduate trajectory – so not just a conclusion of his later research work. [Post Note: Iain’s earlier educational trajectory he describes further in this HTLGI conversation with Hilary Lawson.]
Subsequent Trajectory? Oliver Sacks was one of his first contacts with the mind-body “lesion literature” and moving into medicine, neurology, psychology and psychiatry.
John Cutting at the Bethlem & Maudsley – introduced to split-brain fascination, before Baltimore abnormal / lesion / split-brain research associated with mental / medical conditions.
Louis Sass – Madness and Modernism – extraordinary influential read.
Schizoid / deluded, individual and society lost touch with right-brain capability – hence the books TMAHE & TMWT over 20 years, originally whilst working (in Baltimore).
Vanessa Dylyn documentary – The Divided Brain and many household names.
The McGilchrist Manoeuvre – Jonathan Rowson’s term. Chapter 20 of TMWT is the “door” assuming you already have a general idea of Iain’s hypothesis. The Coincidence of Opposites “Coincidentia Oppositorum“. Not just reductionism, but the law of non-contradiction, are the barriers. Need both thing (left) and opposite (right) and their integration, both are “good” and important. (Is that all JR is dubbing the manoeuvre? Yes it is – he quotes his own definition later. In terms of opposite brain hemispheres, already clear from TMAHE.)
Important – little used – concepts in this chapter are:
- Hormesis – poisons in small quantities can be beneficial. We (and trees) need adversity, headwinds real and metaphorical. Just right amounts / concentrations of stuff – eg water in whisky, cocoa in chocolate
- Syllapsis – (to be added)
- Enantiodromia – Jungian term for the idea that things include their opposites and one can morph into the other over time. The road up is the road down, depending how you look at it.
Definitely a Taoist, could be a Christian. They’re not incompatible.
So why “attention”? – simply that left and right attention are of different nature, and therefore how we attend gives us different knowledge of the world. It’s a moral act – we are not simply observers, we are decisive creators in our choice of attention to the world.