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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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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.

18 people found this helpful

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An Intelectual Masterpiece !

A most interesting and thought provoking book. As someone with an interest in brain lateralisation & function, I have read part one of this book (The Divided Brain) twice. But I never got round to the part two, (How the Brain Has Shaped Our World). This was mainly due to personal laziness, but at over 600 pages it is quite a tome, and it's not exactly light reading. I was delighted to see it available on audible and have now completed it from cover to cover, enjoying every moment. As well as the obvious neuroscience and psycology, it also covers philosophy, history, art and music. The only downside is Mcgilchrist is such an undisputed genius, it does leave one feeling somewhat intellectually lacking. Joking aside, it's a truly great book and highly thought provoking. A++++

8 people found this helpful

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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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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Disappointing ... poor narrator spoils great book!

A great book from a great mind ... but absolutely ruined by an appalling narrator !

Not only does the narrator's diction make it difficult to listen to ... his inexpressive and monotonous drone sounds like a computer-synthesised voice.

The narrator clearly isn't grasping what he's reading in real-time - and this failure to understand leaves him unable to infuse what's written with any kind of conversational expressiveness or tone.

I downloaded this audio-book because the written work is pretty dense and with the greatest respect to Dr. McGilchrist, a little impenetrable due to the convoluted writing style, lengthy sentences and small page font ... so, rather than making this great work more accessible, the audiobook makes things worse.

Extremely disappointing !

4 people found this helpful

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really compelling

the book is great. felt like it addressed questions that I didn't realise I'd been asking all along. it has changed the way I think about language/music/philosophy and many other aspects of life!

the earlier more scientific chapters are quite long but worth it so don't give up!

wouldn't recommend relying on the audio version alone though, as it is complex at times so having the physical copy can help revisit earlier passages.

I listened to the audiobook while following along with the physical copy

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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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A fascinating book, but poor narration

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

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World-Altering

The best non-fiction book I've ever read, hands down. Will change the way you see the world and yourself.

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Read this book

The scope and breadth of this book is quite paradigm changing. I feel I understand a bit better how this world I live in has been shaped in regard to the left and right hemispheres of the brain in a societal way and also how my own personal brain works too. I have now bought this book as I want to re-read it again myself as the ideas and amount of research within this book is amazing.
Cannot recommend highly enough, even though the narration is slightly monotone the content saves it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nikos
  • 08-04-20

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

1 person found this helpful