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Manuscript Monday: The Master and His Emissary

On this weeks Manuscript Monday Meredith recommends The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist

This book brings new meaning to the expression I’m of two minds on the matter. I’m not even done this book yet and I’ve already recommended it to people. It’s immensely thought provoking, and has changed the way I experience the world. It made me question what it means to know.

The book starts out describing the characteristics and strengths of both brain hemispheres, leaning heavily on split brain and brain injury studies to highlight differences. That alone is fascinating. According to McGilchrist, the left brain specializes in narrowly focussed attention, while the right practices broad, sustained attention. Both are important for survival, but in today’s modern world, the left brain’s detail oriented, finite approach seems to have been deemed superior over the right brain’s big-picture, dynamic view of the world. The second half of the book explains how we got there. If you’re like me, you might be also be wondering how we can exercise our big-picture understanding to approach big ideas and challenges.

A bit of warning: there’s a lot of book here. I suspect there are graphs and diagrams throughout. I don’t know because I bought the audio book. I find it a little heavy to listen to, and am contemplating procuring a hard copy.

Who’s the Master and who’s the Emissary? The answer may change how you view the world.

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