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Left-brain thinking is destroying civilization

Dr. Iain McGilchrist’s UnHerd interview is worth watching. Such a profound thinker, whether you agree with him or not.

Dr. McGilchrist is a neuroscientist and philosopher. His book The Master and his Emissary (2009) sets out the idea that the Western society has become dominated by narrow left-brain thinking, which is destroying the civilization.

The ‘left hemisphere delusion’ described by Dr. McGilchrist is such a profound insight that everyone should at least give some serious thought to what he is saying, whether you would reach the same conclusion or not. I do. 

He is not making a political statement. The ‘left-brain’ refers to the left hemisphere of the human brain, which works in concert with the right hemisphere of the brain. The two hemispheres have distinct functions and characteristics. The left is more computational and procedural, while the right more perceptive and holistic.

The asymmetrical design of the human brain has deep implications.

A purposeful design

Unlike Dr. McGilchrist’s own explanations, I do not believe the left and right asymmetrical design of the brain is a result of evolution. The theory of evolution is a faith-based hypothesis which places certain key cause and effect relationships backward. It is true that a life form needs to perform two distinct functions, one a narrow 1° focus on the task (say, a prey) before the front eyes, while the other a broad 360° perception of the environment. Although the need of these functions is real in relation to the environment as far as survival is concerned, the brain structure is not a result of evolution, but the result of intelligent design by the Creator.

In addition, the animal survival aspects of the narrow focus and broad perception is itself a narrow view of life, especially when it comes to a human being. Man is designed to be a middle layer interfacing between the physical and the spiritual. And the human brain is especially designed to fulfill that universal function, which is the core purpose of the creation.

If consciousness is an ontological primitive (see below), which is equivalent to acknowledging that there is a mind behind the material, why is it difficult to acknowledge the master Mind behind the whole creation? Unexplained compliance with the correctness dictated by a pseudoscientific theory of revolution is the worst kind of scientism which is so eloquently refuted by Dr. McGilchrist himself. More on this topic, see: Science & Faith.


Dr. McGilchrist also articulated his view of the consciousness.

“Consciousness is an ontological primitive. It is not derived from things. It is not secreted from the brain.” – one of Dr. McGilchrist’s statements that stuck with me.

The statement is not surprising to me, as I happen to mostly agree with him. But I appreciate the power of Dr. McGilchrist’s words and conceptualization.

The reason I qualified my statement above by the word ‘mostly’ is because I do not believe human consciousness is entirely independent from and pre-existing prior to human mind. It is a result of interfacing between the spirit and the physical (brain specifically). And the spirit was ‘breathed’ into Adam by the Creator (Genesis 2:7). It is therefore a mixture, but primarily prior to the brain.  But that is a different topic.