McGilchrist and Late Modern Madness

I am slowly working my way through Iain McGilchrist’s marvelous new book The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World. It is certainly makes for rewarding reading, and has led me back to some earlier postings in The Chrysalis for which McGilchrist provides an even fuller account. Those postings explored the limitations and functional deficiencies of the Late Modern Mind, or what Jean Gebser called “the mental-rational” (or “perspectival”) structure of consciousness now functioning in “deficient mode”. McGilchrist’s thesis about the “two modes of attention” of the divided brain, and the problem of the hypertrophy of the left-hemisphere mode helps deepen our appreciation for Gebser’s diagnosis of our present condition. So, let’s review once more those earlier postings in light of McGilchrist’s insights.

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The Global Brain is the Monkey Mind

The “Global Brain” refers to what is called the “distributed intelligence” (caveat there) constituted by the global internet. The term “Monkey Mind”, which you probably have heard, comes from Buddhism and refers to the inner chatterbox that is our ordinary, everyday mind, leaping from one fragmented thought, feeling, image, dream, fantasy, memory to another and basically recites our routine, fragmented belief system to us over and over again — the mental merry-go-round. Jung refers to that as “associative thinking”, which physicist David Bohm referred to as memory-based thinking as distinct from “intelligence” per se — which is the mode of insight. Iain McGilchrist, in his description of the functioning of the brain’s left-hemisphere, also uses the phrase “house of mirrors” to describe what Buddhists would call “Monkey Mind”. This is one of the great benefits of studying McGilchrist’s work on neurodynamics — the insight it provides into the workings of the Monkey Mind.

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Gebser and McGilchrist

A brief remark on some striking similarities between Jean Gebser’s history of consciousness structures and Iain McGilchrist’s neurological discoveries.

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