Seven ways to …

Hibai Unzueta asked the “people familiar with Iain McGilchrist’s thinking” for a “pragmatic summary” or a “clickbaity ’10 ways you can become more right-hemisphere dominant’“. There was none, and so I had to write one myself:

1. Be aware of what’s not ‘right-brained’ and question it. That’s easier than trying to describe and chase holistic wisdom and creativity.

2. Be wary of isolating and fixing. Of all things discrete, separable, bounded, focused, local, decontextualized, static and finished, of certainty and binarism, of mono-causalistic mechanisms.

3. Be wary of fragmenting and grouping. Of premature pigeon-holing, of hierarchical classifications and tree structuring, of seeing a whole as an agglomerate of parts.

4. Be wary of the linear and sequential. Of overly goal-directed narrow paths. Even of searching as opposed to browsing.

5. Understand representations and handles. Grasping with the right hand or with the mind works similarly, and we need wrapped concepts for referral and manipulation, but they are tools and not reality.

6. Don’t misunderstand generalizations and rich pictures. Rich pictures are not just the ‘big picture’ of zoomed-out, wrapped, closed parts. And generalizations apply to two or multiple concrete situations, unlike abstractions that apply to none.

7. Then, be open to associations. To relationships and connections, to the salient and outstanding, to context, patterns, and gestalt, to the individual and unique, and to recognition. Automatically.

Notes I used McGilchrist’s lists of hemisphere difference from Chapter 2 of “The Master and his Emissary” and from the Introduction of “The matter with things” (p. 66 – 69), Jenny Mackness’ summary wiki, Sloww’s infographic, and my own old summary page.

Since the question was about thinking, I did not cover some remaining topics such as empathy, “the Other”, “being in the world”, or emotion. I also omitted the debate of whether the two modes of brain operation should be named by the two hemispheres.

On the other hand, I added some aspects that are, IMHO, pertinent and compatible with McGilchrist but not opined by him. In particular, these are the ideas of wrapping/ nesting (in items 3, 5, 6) and intentionality (4).

While I owe to him the notion of an “apophatic” process (negating, sculpting away), my approach to the ‘right hemisphere’ by subtracting what it is not, is my own, because I found it very difficult to follow his verbal account of non-expressible phenomena — even though his attempt was much more successful, IMHO, than Heidegger’s.
Pictogram of a Todo list with 7 entries.
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5 Responses to Seven ways to …

  1. Pingback: The Matter With Things. Chapter 2: Attention – Jenny Connected

  2. Use paradoxical thinking.


  3. Thank you for this! Oddly, I realize using your list that this is how I teach history. If I’m correct, the right brain would be focused on dates, events, chronology. The left on contextualization and patterning. I had never connected that before.


  4. Apologies on my comment: I meant the *left* brain is focused on dates, while the *right* on contexualization!


  5. x28 says:

    Thank you Jenny for the link.
    Thank you Bruno and Lisa for the interesting connections which I had not thought of.


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