Decisive Emotions

Nice piece from Antonio Damasio

Thanks to Marsha on MD for posting the link. Topical for me right now because of the Iain McGilchrist I am currently reading. The indecision of rationality. In the clip we don’t hear what the specific brain lesion / abnormality is, but this is very much about the left-brain being out of touch with the right-brain and the somatic self – its immediate, emotional, holistic, wiser, more-real gut-feelings, etc. Left-brained rational analysis is a very poor substitute for a decision – it’s autistic.

Not ready to blog a review of McGilchrist yet. A massive and deeply researched tome – hundreds of references per chapter. The first half is excellent – very comprehensive collection of sources illustrating left and right brain behaviours and their interdependencies – particularly the “right > left > right” loop pattern – real-world-experience before abstracted-analysis before value-judgement-and-action. His thesis is that “the western mind” is suffering from the left-brain gaining dominance (the Emissary over its Master to coin the Nietzschean phrase in his title) as a disease – a mental disorder. In the second half of the book, which I’m only part through – he applies this notion to the schools of thought from the pre-Socratics to the post-Modern. Less convincing arguments than the first half, but a clear agenda, consistent with so much other reading.

Like Haidt’s Happiness, the ultimate message appears to be wisdom in balance.

[Post Note : Should make it clear here, Damasio is talking about rational vs emotional impairment, not specifically about left-right brain differences – as I noted, the particular lesion is not explained in the short clip. Similarly although McGilchrist IS talking about left-right brain interactions, he does not characterise their difference as simply rational vs emotional, more narrow / closed vs broad / potential. Need to listen to and/or read the wholes.]

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