I realize that the divided-brain model is unfamiliar and strange to most of my readers and followers. I included some examples of how it works in explaining a wide variety of social and individual actions in the book, but I will use this blog, from time to time, to point to additional examples. Today, I have an excerpt from John Dewey’s, Liberalism and Social Action. This work was published in 1935, relatively late in his extraordinarily long productive life. He wrote:
Let me mention three changes that have taken place in one of the institutions in which immense shifts have occurred, but that are still relatively external—external in the sense that the pattern of intelligent purpose and emotion has not been correspondingly modiﬁed. Civilization existed for most of human history in a state of scarcity in the material basis for a humane life. Our ways of thinking, planning and working have been attuned to this fact. Thanks to science and technology we now live in an age of potential plenty. The immediate effect of the emergence of the new possibility was simply to stimulate, to a point of incredible exaggeration, the striving for the material resources, called wealth, opened to men in the new vista. It is a characteristic of all development, physiological and mental, that when a new force and factor appears, it is first pushed to an extreme. Only when its possibilities have been exhausted (at least relatively) does it take its place in the life perspective. The economic-material phase of life, which belongs in the basal ganglia of society, has usurped for far more than a century the cortex of the social body. The habits of desire and effort that were bred in the age of scarcity do not readily subordinate themselves and take the place of the matter-of-course routine that becomes appropriate to them when machines and impersonal power have the capacity to liberate man from bondage to the strivings that were once needed to make secure his physical basis. Even now when there is a vision of an age of abundance and when the vision is supported by hard fact, it is material security as an end that appeals to most rather the way of living which the security makes possible. Men’s minds are still pathetically held in the clutch of old habits and haunted by old memories. (Emphasis added)
He refers to the whole brain, but I read this as pointing to the left hemisphere, which is the seat of our beliefs and habits. Understanding the bicameral nature of the brain offers a new way to unlearn such old habits. One can teach old dogs (humans) new tricks, but has to know how. Whatever means are chosen, they need to engage the right-brain first.