It’s Time to Return.

It’s time to return. I noticed a flurry of activity on the blog yesterday, but don’t know why. In any case, I see this as a signal to return in earnest. The timing is right. I can see the end of my book rewrite in sight. What started as an exercise I thought would take a matter of weeks has stretched into half a year. I am pleased with the results so far. I think it is going to be very good, but I am not quite sure. I gave about half of the book to my wife to read and keep hearing strange, ominous sounds as she is going… Read More

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Empathy and Politics

It’s Saturday. The sun is out. It’s early and my malaise hasn’t yet caught up with me, so I will try to post something. Ever since I “retired” from my active role as an academic researcher and teacher, I have been on a quest to discover what makes me and the world work the way they do. I put me first because I think I need to figure myself out before I can do the same for the world. Toward this end, I even taught a course on the history of the “self” at my life-long learning institute. My last few posts signal that I have come upon a powerful… Read More

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Some Advice to Our Political Leaders, But Not the Usual Kind

The Trump election and Presidency have exposed some serious flaws in the system of morality and laws that underpin our country. Both of these foundations are pretty good, but not good enough to maintain a fair and just order in these modern times. My recent exposure to the divided brain model of McGilchrist keeps me awake at nights with new insights about the world and myself. Since, other than news about Harvey and Irma and other tragedies, there is little to read in the news except the present follies in Washington. I do see our political system these days more and more as folly. I do not read anything that… Read More

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More Politics and the Brain

I’m stuck in my thinking about the brain as my posts surely are showing. I can’t help seeing its separate hemispheres in people’s actions and personalities. At the same time, I cannot get over how powerful this model is in coming up with cogent explanations for what I see. Most people I know directly or observe through the media seem to have relatively balanced brains with the right and left acting together to avoid dominant extreme behavior. As McGilchrist takes great pains to point out in his book, The Master and His Emissary, both hemispheres need to be engaged into order to act effectively over the long run. It’s critical… Read More

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A Few Things

It’s getting harder and harder to find anything good to write about. New situations do show up most of the days, but what is getting written about them is usually the same old same old. What is most bothersome is what is not being written about. The President, even though he is expert at getting the headlines, is not the whole story. I even wonder sometimes whether there is some strategy here. “Keep the limelight on me while the destruction goes on mostly unnoticed. I can get attention to my executive orders, allowing my people at the helms of the Departments to clean house.” The newish slogan of the Washington… Read More

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Attention, the Brain, and the President

“Attention” has been in the news more than usual lately. Among the many mental features of President Trump written about every day is his short attention span. Besides the obvious issue in taking in the necessary inputs to confront the complex problems that merit his action, inability to pay attention is a sign of how his brain works. Attention is name for the complex processes by which the brain takes in and processes inputs from the senses. Attention determines what kind of world shows up and, consequently, how we act and the kind of person we are seen to be. According to Iain McGilchrist in The Master and his Emissary:… Read More

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The Problem of Labels (Especially Political Ones)

I have been tuning into the latest misadventure of our President with more horror than usual. His reading of the events in Charlotteville is plain and simply wrong. His being our President makes the wrongness even more egregious. Once the painful response to the wrongness of his position settled down, I turned to all the comments about the situation coming from the media of all stripes. that is from “both sides.” What I see is more evidence of the unreality of public (and probably much of private) life in America today. The reality of Charlottesville is that Nazism is absolutely not acceptable. Nazism was an aberration of humanity that was… Read More

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Context and the Brain

The divided brain model suggests that the two worlds that show up in our brains display many opposing features. Today, I want to focus on just one pair: contextual (right) vs. decontextualized (left). Flourishing arises from a contextual perception of the world, one that exposes the relationships of the actor to the world. Context is the source of meaning. It relates the content of whatever shows up in the conscious field to one’s historical experience. Meaning is basically historical. It arises in the temporal flow of living. A mere snapshot of what is out there is simply a collection of objects. Each one is distinctive only to the extent it… Read More

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Flourishing and the Right-brain

After a much longer time than I had planned, I have sent off the heavily revised manuscript of my new book to the publisher. I consider the time well spent because I was able to integrate materials from McGilchrist’s, The Master and his Emissary, the book about the divided brain I wrote briefly about in my last blog. While its findings about the brain did not affect my basic theses about flourishing, it provided much additional evidence in support. It made clear that flourishing is fundamentally about living in the present moment under the influence of the right brain. It is not anything possessed by the body. It pertains to… Read More

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The Master and his Emissary

I mentioned I had come across a very interesting book that has enabled me to ground my arguments in my new manuscript even further than I had previously. I did not mean to keep the book a secret. I was waiting until a better time to discuss it. The book is *The Master and his Emissary; The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World* (Yale University Press), by Iain McGilchrist. The author is a British psychiatrist and Professor of English. The book is an amazing amalgam of his scientific thinking and ability to present ideas that challenge one’s thinking about how we do think. McGilchrist revivifies the lateralization… Read More

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