top of page

Our Next

            World View


The New Worldview Neuroscience
 
We Have 'Two Minds' to Understand 'Two Ways Things Happen'
  • Neurological brain science shows how our two brain hemispheres view the world differently
  • Our left hemisphere perceives things and events as parts and sequences, but the right 'sees' integrated wholes
  • The left perspective 'sees' predictably causal, linear processes, enabling us to manipulate and control some events
  • The right can perceive the interdependent, nonlinear networks of emergently self-organizing and self-directing systems
  • We effectively have 'two minds,' or two contrasting 'ways of mind-ing,' that must cooperate to reveal reality
  • But our modern worldview has become preoccupied with the mechanistic left hemisphere mode of understanding
  • To appreciate the new/next worldview of systems science we must re-emphasize our right hemisphere modality
Using the 'Two Minds' of Our One Brain to Understand More Realistically
Two Brain Hemispheres and Two Modes of Attending, thus 'Mind-ing,' the World
How the 'Two Mind-ings' of Our One Brain 'Attend to' the 'Two Ways Things Happen'

The human brain appears to be the most complexly interdependent, agency-driven, adaptively self-organizing system known to science.  It is said to contain some one hundred billion neurons with trillions of connections. Contemporary neuroscience research has revealed much about its structures, though just exactly how our 'consciousness' arises from those remains obscure. But then, study of all complex adaptive systems has shown these to be fundamentally unpredictable. The neuroscience now available has disproved some earlier assumptions about brain functions. One is the idea that our left and right brain hemispheres generate distinctly different cognitive functions, such as emotion in the right and reason in the left.

 

The more recent understanding is that both hemispheres participate in most types of cognitive activities. However, in doing so, they provide very different ways of  'framing' how we attend to (or 'mind') the world, and thus how we tend to experience, then interpret, phenomena.  The right hemisphere diffuses our attention across larger fields of concurrently appearing things and events, without focusing on specific parts, like viewing a crowd of people as a continuous whole. That inclusive mode of attention enables us to register a multiplicity of components engaged in recursive, interdependent relationships, from which emerges the dynamic whole of 'a crowd.' In sharp contrast, the left hemisphere promotes a narrowed focus on specific things or events. That framing of our attention excludes the majority of available information so that we can 'think' in terms of specific parts and actions. Thus the most prominent contrast between the two sides of our bi-lateralized brain is their influence on 'how' we perceive and interpret, not 'what' we think or feel.  When the right hemisphere mode is prominent we are more likely to perceive and interpret phenomena as 'complex interdependent wholes.'  When the left is dominant we are more likely to register separate parts and think more analytically. Thus we can pose the notion that we have 'two ways of mind-ing' the world.

Left hemisphere exclusive attention and right hemisphere inclusive attention 'push and pull'

on our overall awareness, interpretation, and understanding:

 

Point Specific Attention                                                                          Full Field Attention

 

 

While the right hemisphere framing provides broad , inclusive awareness of some 'field of view,' such as our extended environment, the left enables us to narrow our focus and separate specific components or events. This exclusive mode is essential for understanding sequences of predictable cause and effect, which enables us to 'grasp' and effectively manipulate, thus control, some phenomena, as in physical materials. So these two attentional modes provide us with the capacity to register and then interrelate both predictably deterministic ordering and the spontaneously synergistic, emergent ordering of complex system networks, like ecosystems or societies.

Our awareness is constantly 'informed' by these contrasting 'mind-ings'

of exclusive reduction and inclusive correlation:

'Seeing' Separate Parts & Events                            'Seeing' Interdependent Networks

 

Most importantly, though the two hemispheres have evolved as separate 'ways of mind-ing' the world, they are connected to each other and function in a complex dance of cooperation. Each can elaborate the perspective of the other, like 'zeroing in' on one person in a crowd, or 'zooming out' to perceive many things and events simultaneously. But these shifts involve one side 'blocking' the other, so that it can become primary in our awareness. Overall, it appears that we evolved to form our initial awareness of a situation through right hemisphere attention, that then is elaborated more specifically by the left modality. But that more analytical information is then 'passed back' to the right hemisphere for incorporation into its inclusive 'field' view and understanding. Our brains supposedly function best in this right to left and back to right emphasis. However, that exchange can evidently be disrupted, either by brain damage or cultural conditioning.

Studies have indicated that people from Asian cultures are more prone to scanning a scene or picture before narrowing focus on some particular aspect. Those conditioned by Western European cultures tend to seek one specific focal point immediately. That contrast is understood to be an expression of greater left hemisphere dominance in Western culture.

Confronting the Suicidal Left Hemisphere Bias of Our Modern Worldview
gear head - thing  constellate head .png

If we correlate this view of how our 'divided brains' enable us to generate two modes of attention with the new insights of complex systems and network science, we can see the dangers of favoring the reductive, control focused left hemisphere perspective over the more inclusively holistic right one. Yet that is what our technologically preoccupied, control-obsessed modern mentality tends to do: it reflexively privileges the reductive left hemisphere mode, creating a cognitive bias in our worldview. If our modern worldview is dominated by left hemisphere attention and thought, then our difficulty in understanding the interdependent networks of self-organizing complex systems becomes not a problem with our science, but a consequence of a cognitive bias embedded in that cultural worldview. This cognitive bias has blinded us to how our behaviors have disabled the self-ordering ecological systems of the biosphere -- including the global climate system -- and how that threatens even our own survival. Our modern left-hemisphere dominated mentality is proving suicidal. Indeed, our collective behavior has been compared to that of patients with damage to their right brain hemispheres.

Our decades long, obviously ineffectual struggles to restrain the ecological and climate disrupting effects of our  behaviors are symptoms of a control-obsessed, left brain hemisphere biased, cultural mentality. In the terms of the psychology of addiction, we are addicted to that mindset and the power over things and people it has generated. We are unwilling to confront the catastrophic consequences of that 'psychological dependency.' If we were to do so, we would have to undergo a kind of 'cognitive cultural therapy' that will provoke a metanoia -- a profound and shocking 'change of mind.'

How Our Reductive Left Hemisphere Understanding Revealed Its Limitations through Systems Science

Yet this same cultural bias toward the left hemisphere attitude in modernity has led to a logical understanding of its limitations for comprehending reality: by giving rise to complex systems science. As analytical reduction to quantifiable factors and causally predictive theories, all science seems to be a left hemisphere dominated mode of attention and understanding. Yet the quantitative analysis of complex systems in nature has generated factual evidence for unpredictably emergent self-organizing systems, whose 'behaviors' cannot be fully reduced to explicit causal sequences. Our science has confounded our expectations for how it 'should' represent reality. Yet, having arrived at this factual basis for 'irreducible complexity' and unpredictably purposeful network agency through our reductive methodology, we appear incapable of fully appreciating its 'logical conclusions' because our thinking remains dominated by our left hemisphere bias. A similar trajectory of reductive analytical thinking leading to its own limitations can be seen in aspects of Western philosophical thought, mathematics, psychology, and modern art.

Using Our Right Hemisphere 'Mind-ing' to Perceive Emergent Self-Organization and Network Agency

 

Neuroscience insights into how our brain hemisphere influences our perception, thus our conception of phenomena illuminates the difficulty in appreciating the implications of complex systems science. Though systems science as a reductive left hemisphere mode of 'mind-ing' has generated evidence for a 'way things happen' that is not predictably deterministic and explicitly causal, that same mode of understanding cannot, by its fundamentally reductive orientation, fully appreciate the irreducible, unpredictably purposeful phenomena it has revealed. Only our right hemisphere modality could somehow conceive of the world as a paradoxically 'integrated whole,' composed by both predictably causal ordering and unpredictably emergent self-organizing system networks. So the neuroscience proves an essential reference for any effort to shift our cultural worldview in ways that can fully incorporate the implications of systems science. We must find ways to promote and foreground the more inclusive, holistic perspective of our innate right brain attention.

But how do we 'see' the literally invisible phenomena of synergistic network interdependecies and the unpredictable emergence of self-directing system agency? How to we 'conceive' such ultimately irreducible phenomena -- even with our right hemisphere style of inclusive attention and its holistic understanding?

Promoting Right Hemisphere Understanding through Artistic and Mythological Symbolism

Brain science can assist in discerning what types of mental activities and experiences promote right hemisphere understanding. And research indicates that the metaphorical symbolism of artistic expressions, literature, and mythological traditions are potent stimulants to that inclusive manner of 'mind-ing' the world. By correlating such symbolism with the factual insights of complex systems and network science, we can begin to understand how it actually served to assist humans to 'see,' in an imaginal yet emotionally potent manner, the strange 'way that things happen' revealed by this new science. Through that correlation we can also enhance our understanding of the implications of the science for our worldview.

More on how Our Two Hemispheres Shape Our Understanding on this Page:

One Brain, Two Minds

The New Network-based Worldview has Staggering Implications for Our Cultural Reality
(read more)
 
bottom of page