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Thread: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

  1. #1
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    Post Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    I first read this hypothesis in a book by Derrick De Kerckhove bought in 1993 , Mind,Technology and Busines ; the conceptual core is this:our brain is made up of 2 hemispheres , the left one rules over logic and rational thought while the right one over emotions and other things like this.
    Then , how we "feed" our left hemisphere?
    the answer is:by using our right arm and leg more the left ones , and by reading a rightward alphabetical writing system , in fact when we read a text from left to right , we "decode" it throu our eye's right semi-fields , whatever we read/see by the right eye semi-field , then it goes to our left hemishpere , and viceversa.
    There are several proofs in history that make this hypothesis my favourite one :
    in Wester world , great scientific accomplishments occured at the same time of great spread of literacism , a literacism supported by a righward alphabet , it could be the greek one , or the latin , but it's important that this alphabet isn't leftward (lije , for instance , the hebrew and the arabic) ; another coincidence occured during the Renaissance contemporary vith the Gutemberg's invention of the press.

    I'm gonna post exerpts in English . . .

  2. #2
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    Post Re: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    From www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~skoyles/jsbs.htm The origin of Classical Greekculture:

    Hunter-gatherers of the alphabet.


    Classical Greek culture differs from that of previous societies. Previous theorists have attributed this to the Greek alphabet (which differed from its precursor, the Semitic alphabet in containing vowel letters). I review recent research upon the reading of vowelled(rightward) and unvowelled(leftward) alphabet writing. Earlier writing systems were phonetic - in spite of this, research together with palaeographic evidence suggests that the first people to read phonologically were the Greeks.

    I propose that two "chains" of literacy and corresponding interactions between literacy and societies exist: transparent (closely associated with phonological reading) and opaque (associated with non- phonological reading). Opaque literacy enhances and produces authoritarian structured societies; transparent literacy in contrast is anti-authoritarian. I suggest this trait inhibited the rise of elites in Greek society. Human communities (such as hunter-gatherer bands) without elites show (a) individualism, (b) debate and (c) equalitarianism. I conjecture the major cultural, intellectual and social innovations of the Classical Greeks relate to (1) the inhibition of elites by the Greek alphabet; (2) which created human culture based upon individualism, debate and equality - human traits last expressed in hunter-gatherer bands (3) but which lead to cultural and intellectual innovations because they existed within the technological circumstances of urban life.

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    Post Re: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    Western civilization starts with the Classical Greeks (500- 300 B.C.). (then , after being moribund for a thousand and a half period , it was born again a bit before Renaissance . . .)Their culture was both (1) extraordinary and (2) important. (1) Extraordinary, in that within a few generations occurred profound and widespread changes which were both intellectual: the rise of philosophy, intellectual questioning, logic, and axiomatic mathematics; and social: the start of democracy, individualism, realistic art, non-traditional attitudes. (2) Important, in that these changes have effected or formed the basis of much of later and present day human existence.

    . . .

    The 2 alphabets (our , that of whites , and the other , that of irrational , superstitioius people like arabs and jews...)
    The Semitic alphabet is not vowelled . . .
    The Greeks when they took over the alphabet extended its vowel representation making it full and consistent.This was done by developing the mater lectionis principle by which consonant letters could additionally represent weak vowels to one where formerly Semitic letters solely represented Greek vowels (the vocalisation of speech). The invention of vowel letters happened once.(when you read an alphabet with vowels , your eye's right semi-field decode it much bettere , so you're using your brain's left hemisphere...)

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    Post Re: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    The psychology of reading vowelled and unvowelled words.

    Ancient Greek was phonologically transparent. Though Greek has many descendants most have lost its transparent regular one phoneme for each letter and one letter for each phoneme. Most modern European scripts including modern Greek lack a one-to-one relationship, as often many phonemes are represented by more than one grapheme. One European script is particularly irregular - English - its graphemes often represents many phonemes - in the case of the letter "a" ten of them. This is unfortunate since most reading research has been carried out upon English. This irregularly of course affects the ease and even possibility of phonologically decoding English words.(is this a proof why anglo-speakin' people fall so often in irrational politically correct behaviours , while , at the opposite , this don't occur to Germans and Slavs? )

    The psychological and palaeographic evidence suggests that the Greek alphabet was the first script to be phonologically (then throu the left hemisphere , then rationally...)read. This happened as a direct consequence of its innovation of vowel letters - the characteristic many theorists in the past have claimed give it special effects upon reading and thought.


    How could phonological reading change society and culture?

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    Post Re: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    The two causal chains of literacy

    A great variety of literacy/culture theories have been suggested.
    General to them is an attempt to model the impact of literacy upon society in terms of single effect common to all scripts. One of the major social effects of literacy is upon the construction of new forms of power. Thus the social and political effect of literacy is sensitive to the type of literacy and hence the transparency or opacity of writing used by a society. This interaction between script and power can be described in terms of two causal chains.

    The opaque chain
    If a writing system is phonologically opaque then for cognitive reasons it will be read lexically(irrationally) , in consequence, many texts will be unreadable as their words will be hard to read or unrecognisable. This matters when writing preserves laws and sacred traditions. Though usually laws and traditions are communicated orally their preservation in writing changes who interprets them. (say the Koran , Talmud , but not "our" Bible and Vangles that can be translated into many many languages)
    In these societies the central texts will only be readable and so criticizable by those with a direct interest in preserving their authority. They will gain power: literacy will be associated with privilege and sought out as a socially important and respected skill.

    The transparent chain
    A separate chain is associated with phonological transparent writing. Phonologically transparent writing is read phonologically. This enables its readers to read every word in a text provided it is in their spoken vocabulary. This will make the written laws and traditions of a society transparent to comment. This will effect the opportunities and circumstances by which power is delegated through such texts. Their transparency will restrict the opportunity of people to interpret them. Any literate person will be able to subject them to comment, criticism and alternative interpretations. Literacy will not be valued but taken for granted - a task considered sufficiently low status for delegating to slaves. Thus phonologically transparent written texts are unlikely to provide the source for political and social power. A society with phonologically transparent script could still delegate powers to certain groups but through factors other then literacy.

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    Post Re: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    Characters of our Western civilization

    Naturalistic art (and realistic)

    According to art historians (Gombrich, 1977) Greek art and sculpture from about 500 BC became realistic making images and forms with the natural appearance of people, things and events. This development in art is unique to the Greeks. It is strikingly absent in the images created by other societies whose images were nonrealistic conventional and traditional. As Gombrich (1977:103) observes the "Egyptian painter distinguished, for instance, between a dark brown for men and a pale yellow for women's bodies. The real flesh tone of the person portrayed obviously mattered as little in this context as the real colour of a river matters to the cartographer".

    Naturalistic art is peculiar in art in being orientated to the experience of the individual spectator - the problem which defines its success is its ability to invite the onlooker into a reality - a portrait or event created by the artist. Greek art seeks to create illusions in paint and form with the immediate visual experience of an actual entity or scene. Greek art raises in people questions that might be asked of an actual person: "why does this individual stand like that?", "what is this person feeling?" and "what might he say". A realistic work seeks not only to create realism but also emotional reactions in the individual spectator for instance of the pathos or beauty, emotions they would feel when physically present with actual people or situations. A non-representative example of this is the distortion the Greek sculptors made to the Parthenon marbles to correct for the effects of perspective on them when seen from below. These corrections only make sense in the context of the need to create convincing realism for spectators. Not all realistic art is Greek.

    Democracy

    Modern western democracies owe their existence to the example of ancient Greek democracy. The Greeks had no example to follow but had to invent it But why? The question though one of the most important in the social sciences is rarely asked. It has four characteristics of interest (for discussion of Greek particularly Athenian democracy see Aristole, Politics.

    . . .

  7. #7
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    Post Re: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    Brain Hemispheres, Writing Systems and Worldviews
    pages.citenet.net/users/ctmz0565/webdoc3.htm

    "The human mind and the new communication technologies"
    an interview with Derrick De Kerckhove
    http://www.mediamente.rai.it/mmold/e...d/dekerckh.htm

    Educating the Hebrew brain
    http://home.nycap.rr.com/porush/Dave...w%20brain.html

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    Post Re: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    I think that your hypothesis is plausible, logical, and, overall, brilliant. Congratulations on having discovered and clearly expressed a highly significant insight

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    Post Re: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    This is an Addendum, rather than an reply.
    Whilst reflecting upon this admirable article this afternoon, a thought occurred to me: What are we to make of those ancient peoples who wrote in boustrophedon (as the ox turns in plowing) i.e. alternately from right to left and left to right. They must have been VERY confused people, wouldn't you think ?
    To us, who are accustomed to writing from left to right, this would be a very difficult and tiring way to write. What, I wonder , were the thought processes of those who wrote this way ?
    It's interesting to note that nobody ever retained this practise for very long. It was always abandoned early,in favor of writing from left to right. I cannot think of a single Semitic culture which ever wrote in boustrophedon (maybe the Phoenicians ?) The Egyptians used it, but they were Hamitic. (Note that, in boustrophedon, it was necessary to reverse the characters as well as the direction of writing.)
    I can't help wondering: in addition to the difficulty of writing the characters "backwards" was there not a subtler psychological reason to abandon this scheme of writing ?

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    Post Re: Is Western Civilization offspring of our brain's left hemispheres dominance

    I think this theory fits in very well with Julian Jaynes' theory about the emergence of consciousness by the separation of the left brain from the right brain's dominance. I think I had brought up the subject here last year?

    Have either of you read the later printing (1990's) of Prof. Julian Jayne's "The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind."? I have a tendency to believe that European/Western man *is* Unicameral (left brained) man - and that other civilizations and societies not yet civilized, still exhibit bicamerality - which also exists in the West amongst not only schizophrenics, but religious fanatics and other 'throwbacks' to the primitive mind-set (ie, not fully conscious human beings.)
    --------------------------------------------------------
    There is nothing the matter with Americans except their ideals. The real American is all right; it is the ideal American who is all wrong. ~G.K. Chesterton

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