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

Author(s) : Iain McGilchrist

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

Book Details

  • Publisher : Yale University Press
  • Published : 2012
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 544
  • Category :
    Neuroscience
  • Category 2 :
    Popular Psychology
  • Catalogue No : 33349
  • ISBN 13 : 9780300188370
  • ISBN 10 : 0300188374

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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, he 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.

About the Author(s)

Iain McGilchrist is a former fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, a fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and former consultant psychiatrist and clinical director at the Bethlem Royal & Maudsley Hospital, London. He has been a research fellow in neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and has published original articles and research papers in a wide range of publications on topics in literature, philosophy, medicine, and psychiatry. McGilchrist is the author of Against Criticism (Faber, 1982), The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World(Yale, 2009), The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning: Why Are We So Unhappy? (Yale, 2012), and is currently working on a project entitled There Are No Things, to be published by Penguin. He lives on the Isle of Skye.

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