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February 27th, 2021
A fascinating aspect of the brain is how the two halves are connected. Give it some thought and it might seem a bit strange that the brain is divided. What is that all about? Why isn’t there just one brain as opposed to two seemingly identical halves?
The two halves communicate primarily through a window called the Corpus Callosum, and the way they primarily communicate is through inhibition. Perhaps the best way to imagine this inhibition is to think of yourself as part of a two person team, and each of you on this team has trained for two different parts of the game you both play. Now, when playing the game a circumstance arises that is your specialty, and by now taking the lead you inhibit your team mates participation so that you can do what you do best. This is a rough analogy of how each hemisphere attempts to make the best contribution to what’s going on.
The two halves as detailed by Iain McGilchrist, are actually in conflict with one another, and for good reason: each one has a different perspective on what’s going on, and depending on what’s most important, the relevant hemisphere exhibits a bit more influence.
One important contradiction is the tension between humility and conviction. Achieving a big goal requires an often unrealistic optimism that it can be accomplished. But at the same time, a humility about the current state of progress is essential in order to make the next best step over and over until that mountain of a goal is achieved. This sort of tightrope walk is exactly the kind of dichotomy that the brain’s division is set up to handle, as long as one hemisphere isn’t primarily dominate with an outsized influence.
While the cause and effect here is likely not perfect, we can see how this would work in analogy: too much humility and nothing grand ever gets accomplished. Too much vision and we spend all our time in the clouds, never addressing the cold hard facts of reality. We can all likely think of specific people who fall into either category, but strangely, the people who are repeatedly successful fall into both categories.
Balance is achieved through tension in the same way gravity pulls us to fall off the tight rope both on the left and the right sides as we walk.
Harmony isn’t the absence of forces, but a combination of them.