Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Power, Spirituality and the Modern Mind
The modern mind and the way that we employ it is not "natural". The way we think and feel is not purely genetically determined. We use our brains far differently from the way our ancestors used them. The advent of writing, mass reading (the printing press) and computers and the internet have all heralded massive shifts in the way we operate mentally. In recent decades research has clearly shown that the brain is far more plastic than once thought. Repeated habits of thought and action imprint themselves upon the brain and its neuro-chemical pathways.
For example, long hours using the internernet tends to activate the the left-frontal area of the brain. This enhances visual spatial intelligence and the capacity to efficiently sort data into categories (schemata). However, as Nicholas Carr points out in his brilliant book The Shallows, recent research indicates that this enhancement comes at the cost of mathematical and linguistic intelligences and critical reasoning; and arguably retards the capacity to feel at depth, moralise and to assimilate wisdom. I'll be saying more about this in upcoming weeks.
For those interested in the historical interplay between scientific rationality, religion and mysticism, I have uploaded Chapter 3 of my book Integrated Intelligence to scribd.com. (it is in academic form, however). For those not inclined to read the whole chapter, you may be interested in the "map" at the end of the chapter which outlines the interplay of the history. You can read it here: