652 - Is Humanity In Its Right Mind? (The Rise and Rise Of The Left Brain)

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#648#649#650#651 Episode #652 - Is Humanity In Its Right Mind?
(The Rise and Rise Of The Left Brain)

#653#654#655#656

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This is a choice episode Sat 11 May 2013  Charles Eisenstein (reading), Tony Wright, Iain McGilchrist, Michael Pollan
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2 This week, a remarkable set of ideas by an unknown speaker with a highly unusual credential (a sleep deprivation record of 11 days) whom I first came across only a few days ago. His ideas are such a close fit with many of the others we have heard on the show that I felt I had to share them with you. If they are even partly true, we all need to know about it.
Tony Wright was a student of plant biology at a university in Scotland when he became interested in 'the human condition'. Over the course of two decades, self-experiments into consciousness developed into serious study. He became convinced that the mental state we regard as 'normal' - even perhaps the pinnacle of evolution - is in fact a degenerated condition. The human brain, he suggests, is not what it once was. In his 65 minute interview, Wright explains his theory that the human brain co-evolved with fruit in the tropical forests, and that since humans left that environment, we have suffered a lack of flavonoids and other biochemicals, allowing the left hemispheres to take effective control of our brains, with disasterous consequences.

To underline some of Tony Wright's points, and provide connections to other speakers, his talk is juxtaposed with material from other episodes. We begin with episode 465, a reading of Charles Eisenstein's Ascent of Humanity about the Pirahã, one of a few tribes who still live a traditional life in the tropical forest, whose language and culture is singularly unaffected by modern man. Could they, perhaps, still have a healthy balance between brain hemispheres?

For clarification of the roles of the two hemispheres, we replay the conclusion of what Iain McGilchrist had to say about brain function in episode 537:

Quotes-66.gifIf I had to sum it up, I'd say the world of the left hemisphere, dependent upon denotative language and abstraction yields clarity and power to manipulate things that are known, fixed, static, isolated, decontextualised, explicit, disembodied, general in nature, but ultimately lifeless. The right hemisphere by contrast yields a world of individual changing, evolving, interconnected, implicit, incarnate, living beings, within the context of the lived world, but in the nature of things never fully graspable, never perfectly known, as we think, and to this world it exists in a certain relationship, rather than just an objective stance.Quotes-99.gif

Iain McGilchrist, Episode 537

To finish we hear the conclusion of episode 525, Michael Pollan's ideas on changing consciousness, which seem to correlate pretty closely with Tony Wright's ideas of the co-evolution of plants and humans.
Thanks to Keith Scott Mumsby for the Tony Wright interview
The left/right brain issue is addressed with powerful tesimony in the first talk of episode 655.
This episode rebroadcasts content from episode 465, episode 525 and episode 537..
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