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Publisher's Summary

In a book of unprecedented scope Iain McGilchrist presents a fascinating exploration of the differences between the brain’s left and right hemispheres and how those differences have affected society, history and culture. 

McGilchrist draws on a vast body of recent research in neuroscience and psychology to reveal that the difference is profound: the left hemisphere is detail oriented, while the right has greater breadth, flexibility and generosity. 

McGilchrist then takes the listener on a journey through the history of Western culture, illustrating the tension between these two worlds as revealed in the thought and belief of thinkers and artists from Aeschylus to Magritte.

©2010 Iain McGilchrist (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about The Master and His Emissary

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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating book - some flawed philosophy

Excellent and rigorously scientific exploration of hemisphere differences.

I rate it less than five stars because it engages in victim-blaming of Galileo, in the way that many Catholics do; 'it was his own fault for having a prickly personality'. Pretty disgusting excusing of threats of torture, for the 'crime' of publicising evidence that went against the Church's dogma.

Also, he fails to properly understand Dawkins, offering a truncated and dismissive recounting of memetic theory, without properly engaging with it - save to decry it as being based on Left- hemisphere reasoning, which isn't really an argument. One gets the feeling that the author has ulterior motives for disagreeing with what he calls 'the Dawkins Delusion' - I suspect McGilchrist is a theist and for some reason chooses to hide this from the reader.

There were other philosophical arguments in the second half of the book which I personally found disagreeable but were less egregious.

A great book in the first half, where it bases its reasoning in science, but weaker in the second, where the author goes into history and philosophy. Always remember to think for yourself and question where the author might be coming from.

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Excellent book worth the time and money

McGilchrist writes in high English, and comes across as long winded especially in the second half however the content is not lacking his overview of the left and right half’s of the brain with clinical examples is on point shedding light on the current political leftist situation as more akin to a mental illness then a life style chose, contrary to popular beliefs.

Suggestion to the author, omit referencing to the quantum physicist as it does nothing for their egos and if memory serves me correctly they are over due in their completion of that fusion machine.

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  • Nikos
  • 08-04-2020

Highly informative

It's a highly informative book. Even though I don't 100% agree with everything said, I feel it helped me make a shift in the way I look at things

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  • Jim Vaughan
  • 19-09-2020

Revolutionary Re-enchantment

If, like me, you despair of reductionism, over-simplification, the disenchantment and commodification of animals and the living world which allows the ruthless exploitation of the planet, this book explains why it is happening. We are half losing our minds, or at least the hemisphere that silently sees reality as a whole. Welcome instead to the machine!

McGilchrist is something of a polymath, a neuropsychiatrist with expertise spanning neuroscience, philosophy, phenomenology, biology, art history, music and literature.

This is therefore a highly intellectual and intelligent book, charting the modern cultural takeover of “left hemisphere” atomistic conceptual thinking, and the suppression of “right hemisphere” holistic perception. The verbose Emissary, has subverted the ineffable vision of the Master. We mistake our map for the territory.

As an aside, this is one of the best explications of the Phenomenology of Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and others I know.

Clearly narrated (though some pronunciations seemed a little odd at times), this is a book of huge importance for western culture at this time, and the future of our planet.

8 people found this helpful

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  • P B Hodgson
  • 15-11-2020

A must read for anyone wanting to understand being

A highly enjoyable book that lays bear the conflicts of doing science on a brain when the brain is the one doing the science, and many other fascinating mysteries of being, in a clear and eloquent way.

Exceptional

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  • Mr. T. L. Peel
  • 16-12-2020

Excellent, with many ah-ha! Moments

An amazing book that will stay with me for my life.
Note on the narration (and possibly the complexity of the information) I had to listen on 0.8 speed as I found it too fast, not least the pauses between headings seemed to quickly blend into the content...

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-12-2020

A fascinating book, but poor narration

The narration is monotone, making the complex material impenetrable. But the printed book, this audiobook is unusable.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael Noone
  • 04-12-2020

Great book on the evolution of our brain

Very deep and insightful. I painted the house in lockdown with it on audiobooks as I didn't believe I could read it slowly over days and keep the concentration on the subject as a whole. Odd part a little dull, otherwise exceptional book introducing why the brain does what, where it does it, and why. Very comprehensive.

1 person found this helpful

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