Keynote lecture

The Myth of Logic and the Logic of Myth

Iain McGilchrist


Keynote lecture
12:45 - 14:15

If we had to describe the famous Scottish psychiatrist/philosopher Iain McGilchrist in a Dutch context, héd be some kind of combination of Dick Swaab and Hans Achterhuis. For twenty years, the British psychiatrist worked on his book on the functioning of the two halves of the human brain and the way in which they affect the development of our culture, consciousness and society.

The lecture will be an exploration of some of the misconceptions about the nature of reason, the nature of intuition, the part they play in the creative process, and their impact on the divided nature of the brain. Why is the brain divided? In his book ‘The Master and his Emissary’, Iain McGilchrist argues that the left and right hemispheres each have a distinct ‘take’ on the world – most strikingly, the right hemisphere sees itself as connected to the world, whereas the left hemisphere stands aloof from it. This affects our understanding not just of language and reason, music and time, but of all living things: our bodies, ourselves and the world in which we live.

We need both hemispheres; the left hemisphere, however, has become so dominant that we are in danger of forgetting everything that makes us human. McGilchrist traces how the left hemisphere has grabbed more than its fair share of power, resulting in a society where a rigid and bureaucratic obsession with structure, narrow self-interest and a mechanistic view of the world hold sway, at an enormous cost to human happiness and the word around us.

Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist and writer. Before he came to medicine, he was a literary scholar -- and his work on the brain is shaped by a deep questioning of the role of art and culture. As his official bio puts it: "He is committed to the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context, that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise -- the culture which helps to mould, and in turn is moulded by, our minds and brains.”

His Tedtalk about the real differences between the left and right halves of the human brain in an animated version. Very enlightening.