What a mess. Hacked again. This site is not some Danish household goods shop. In any case, I am back and refreshed. I noticed this is the first blog in 2019. I am resolved to do a better job of posting regularly, so please do not abandon me. The empty space was largely the result of finishing my book manuscript and getting it off to the publisher. Yes, it has found a home at Routledge. I have appeared in a number of edited volumes for them, but this this the first (and, probably, last) time all on my own. I haven’t a publication date yet, but, hopefully, this summer. To avoid suspense, here is the summary prepared for Routledge.
The Right Way to Flourish: Changing the Course of Modernity does nothing less than aim to change the course of modern civilization. It provides a powerful vision, flourishing, to light the fire of change. Flourishing is the sign of the attainment of the human biological and existential potential. Its absence, among persistent environment and societal pathologies in modern cultures, is traceable to the dominance of the isolating, controlling, self-interested left-brain hemisphere over the connecting, empathetic, caring right. Switching the perspective to the right, its beliefs in cosmic complexity and the caring human offer foundations for designing modern institutions that would avoid these pathologies and allow flourishing to emerge. Until we accept that our modern belief structure is, itself, the barrier to our dreams, we will continue to be mired in an endless succession of unsolved problems. Although not a conventional how-to book, it provides road maps toward restoring the distinctively human mastery of the right.
Echoing the clarion call of scholars of many disciplines and leaders from around the globe, the case for action now is coupled with a new critique, grounded on recent findings about the brain. The book’s central arguments incorporate the recent work of cognitive scientist, Iain McGilchrist, who argues persuasively that the human brain’s hemispheres present distinct different worlds, the nature of which determine both the kind of individual actor and the character of society. Ignored by virtually all disciplines, the dichotomous worlds of divided brain model obviate many intellectual and practical problems.
The book offers a potentially game-changing framework for change that offers permanent results, instead of the partial solutions from technological or technocratic remedies that always seem to come with serious unintended consequences, like climate change or economic inequality. It is particularly relevant to change agents in all major societal institutions, and also to those seeking positive changes in their lives.
I have been concerned about basing my work largely on that of a single other work, in this case the model of the brain of Iain McGilchrist. Serendipitously, just after submitting the manuscript, a friend put me onto another book that, quite independently, has come up with virtually the same model of the divided brain. In Leonardo’s Brain, Leonard Shlain develops the model as an explanation for the extraordinary capabilities of Leonardo, but also as a general treatment of the brain. While not so comprehensive as McGilchrist, his book is accessible, and just as convincing.
I have to be careful not to see right- or left-brains everywhere although I do think this model of thinking, action, and cultural development does explain so much of the problematic nature of private and public life in the US and elsewhere. David Brooks, this week, wrote an excellent op-ed about social isolation in the US heartland. The pain he observed in many disparate situations is, he writes, due to “our lack of healthy connection to each other, our inability to see the full dignity of each other…” The result is a “culture of fear, distrust, tribalism, shaming and strife.” Both the disconnect and the lack of empathy needed to protect another’s dignity are direct consequences of the left-brain dominance of our culture.
The remedy for this, Brooks also writes, is coming in the form of organizational structures that “weave” together the missing relationships. So far, he notes these are few and far between and have some limitations in scale because relationship are place and context situated. His solution – to attack the culture – is right on, but he misses a key point. The inter-hemispheric balance of the US brain is the underlying reason for the present state of anomie. No cultural shift can take hold until this is deliberately addressed and shift back toward the right. Brooks gets a B minus, only.