Kenny forwarded to me a presentation by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist who experienced a massive stroke and got to experience first-hand what it's like to lose portions of the brain's functioning. It's an interesting talk, so go ahead and watch it if you haven't already.
She does a good job of differentiating the two "directions" of human thought â€“ the one that embraces the wholeness of experience, and the other that analyzes and defines and separates. I'm sure Eckhart Tolle and other mystics would applaud. And the notion that you can consciously choose to push in one direction or the other is a valid and important one.
A part of me shivers, though, when someone radically simplifies brain functions with statements like "the left hemisphere is a serial processer, and the right hemisphere is a parallel processor." I could have accepted it more if she could have said the things scientists usually say to temper such statements, like: "Now this is a gross simplification, butâ€¦" or "The way we experience the activity of the left hemisphere could be compared to a serial processorâ€¦" But when someone makes such blanket statements as unequivocal facts, especially when that person is wearing the mantle of a professional scientist, I feel like the truth is being compromised for the sake of dramatic impact.
Anyone with a stake in metaphysics should get nervous when people with clinical brain abnormalities describe their experiences in spiritual terms. The materialistic atheists are already just dying to dismiss all religious experience as arbitrary mental artifacts at best, or outright pathologies at worst. Every time some gets clonked on the head and says, "I was one with the universe!" all the skeptics say, "See? Just an artifact of the brain." That would be a logical fallacy, of course: just because a clonk on the head results in a mystic experience does not mean that all mystic experiences are merely the results of similar (seen or unseen) clonks on the head. But it still gives one pause . . .