01 November 2012

Iain McGilchrist's "Divided Brain" - Graphic Novel Version

It should go without saying that posting this video is not same thing as endorsing it. Here are some questions to think about critically as you watch it:

1.) How does this animation largely replicate precisely the culture that McGilchrist says he is critiquing?

2.) In what way has McGilchrist really moved beyond the two hemisphere's theory he supposedly critiques at the beginning. Has he created a strawman argument?

3.) Why is it that a psychiatrist proposes that CCTV cameras are bad, and yet argues in the same breath that a deep knowledge of how our brain functions is "good". (Hint: the choice being offered here looks something akin to Neuro-North Korea versus the contemporary United Kingdom.)

4.) Why is so much money and time being used to argue for neuroscience/neurology in such eminently simplified ways when the actual subject matter  - you, know, all of human history and the brain - has been the stuff of argument for centuries?

5.) What have you really learned that was new from McGilchrist's thesis?

6.) Does it seem to you that McGilchrist may be restricting the options too much?

7.) How much are you being asked to trust in McGilchrist's authority rather than guided through the landscapes of scientific interpretations?

Variations of these questions will help you interpret the messages of neuroculture generally. It is important to not get lost in the jungle of pleasantries. McGilchrist's marketing is appropriately targeted: humans like cooperation; humans celebrate empathy; humans try very hard to support one another. And many humans are rightly concerned by the rise of reactionary religions and rightly see in science a powerful critique. To be clear, it is not McGilchrist's argument that should concern us. Our moving target here must be on how reactionary religion, reactionary politicians, and a media hungry for simplified superstitions will co-opt those arguments and use them.

Supplemental Reading: 
"The Grand Inquisitor" in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov 

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