The Master and His Emissary


Epicurus: Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

One response was that God made everything, including evil, but Genesis 1:2 says darkness is what was there before God got started! Another answer might be that God knows better, hasn’t shared His reasoning with us, but Epicurus must have jumped to the wrong conclusion, because God Is Good. Period.
A conundrum? ..without answer?

I’m reading (and recommending) “The Master and His Emissary” by Ian McGilchrist. He’s a neuroscientist writing about the history of our thinking and philosophy in the light of the ever dis-integrating and distancing functions of the left and right brain.

We (in The West at least) are currently in a historic phase of left-brain dominated thought, in which paradox and metaphor are regarded as error. In contrast, at the arrival of previous ages such as the Renaissance, Romanticism, and early Greek philosophy, (when the portraits all looked right!) and the right brain has dominated, allowing our thoughts to accept mystery, the un-graspable, to even recognise the unfamiliar and assimilate an ever changing world view while deploying the left brain as an inward-focused machine for categorisation. The left brain is an indispensable servant but an untrustworthy master. In cases where the right brain is suppressed, patients might even deny the existence of their own left body! (While the right brain experiences the whole body, the left brain is only aware of the right side, so that a right-brain-damaged patient might complain, there’s “an arm” in my bed!).

Evolutionists have established that we could sing before we could talk. Language is not the toolbox of knowing and thought, but a mechanism that diminishes or misrepresents them, to gain individual and corporate power. What do you think of that!?

Through ages such as late Greek philosophy, the dark “Enlightenment”, and Modernism, (when the portraits all looked left!) and we stop being “present” and get carried away with re-presentation, including confusing mere language with true thought, (problems can in fact be solved and computation executed without language) and also confusing money with wealth (seen that?!) and confusing understanding with mere knowledge, truth with mere facts. Post modernist mathematicians like Kurt Gödel realised that every calculus of representational logic eventually becomes self-defeating, stumbling and tripping over paradox. The equally difficult book “Gödel, Escher and Bach” by Douglas Hofstadter ironically takes a completely left-brained approach in trying to recruit Gödel in explaining how the creative individual “soul” (or at least, a “mind”) can be constructed from the chemical automaton he sees in our brain. In the preface to the 20th anniversary editiion, Douglas ends up wondering what his own book is about!

If you fancy a serious read, and don’t mind reading the odd page several times,.. I recommend the far more satisfactory book by McGilchrist, which seems to discover the “soul” somewhere in the space, the relationship between the Master and the Emissary in our bicameral brain.

Maybe start first with “I and Thou” by Martin Buber?

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