The Laing Lectures 2016: God, the Brain, and Paradox

Speaker(s): Iain McGilchrist
Date: March 9-10, 2016
Length: 5h 4m
Product ID: RGDL4604S

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Over the past few centuries, argues Iain McGilchrist, Western culture has favoured a rational, fact-driven approach to analyzing the world, at the expense of a big-picture analysis that incorporates metaphor, paradox, and experiential knowledge. What are the implications of this imbalance for our contemporary culture? How does it affect our understanding of faith, truth, and creativity?

How do we think about truth? Where do we go to find it? While science and reason have undeniable power to disclose many aspects of reality, they do not reveal everything. In this lecture, Iain McGilchrist explains why we cannot rely only on the reports of science or the power of rational argument and demonstrates that it is both unscientific and irrational to do so.

What can brain science tell us about the way we conceive of the world? What are its limitations? In this second lecture, Iain McGilchrist examines space, time, and the paradoxes to which they give rise, considering what they might tell us about the ultimate nature of reality. He argues that the prevailing ethos of our society restricts our ability to understand the nature of the divine; it is accordingly unsurprising that fewer and fewer people find themselves able to embrace belief in a divine Being.

Power is often equated with the ability to control and shape reality. But is that really true? In this third lecture, Iain McGilchrist argues that powerful creativity often comes from learning not to do the things that seem obvious in the moment. Openness and receptivity bring a richer engagement with the world than efforts to forge a reality of our own making. As we reorient our understanding in this way, we begin to see striking parallels between science and theology.

See All Audio by Iain McGilchrist

Iain McGilchrist came to medicine from a background in the humanities, writing about issues in literature and philosophy. He trained in medicine because of an interest in the mind-body problem and practised in psychiatry and researched in neuropsychology, including neuroimaging. He seeks to understand the mind and the brain by seeing them in the broadest possible contextu2014that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise. His most recent book, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, explores the nature of the brain's two hemispheres, their relationship to one another, and their link to the creation of our consciousness and our culture. He is working on books about creativity and mental illness and the current plight of the humanities, and is one day hoping to complete a short book of reflections on spiritual experience.

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