Introducing the Catholic Hemisphere. Part Two of Two.
About the Hemisphere Hypothesis
Straight explanations are dryer than Las Vegas in July (unless you're standing in front of the Bellagio Fountains), but I guess I need to explain the Hemisphere Hypothesis. You can find my full explanation here, but here's a summary:
Iain McGilchrist published his bestseller, The Master and His Emissary, in 2009. He followed it with his massive two-volume The Matter with Things, in 2021.
They're daunting and nuanced works, but they can be boiled down to three points:
- The left hemispheres and right hemispheres of our brains do the same things.
- But they approach things differently: they attend to the world differently. The left hemisphere is the servant ("emissary"). It is the hemisphere that gets things done; it carries out tasks. The right hemisphere is the master. It sends the left hemisphere into the world with the tasks and then "hangs back" and reads poetry, listens to fine music, and attends to the greater good (while the left hemisphere is out there, grappling in the mud).
- Even though the right hemisphere is supposed to be the master, the left hemisphere has usurped the master role. Modern culture is a left-hemispheric culture, creating all sorts of problems.
About the Catholic Hemisphere
I should be clear: McGilchrist's Hemisphere Hypothesis isn't Catholic. It isn't even religious. If I had to put it in a category, I'd say it's "applied science." It's neuroscience applied to studies in humanities (history, philosophy, literature) to create a useful understanding of the world, including modernity.
Catholicism, on the other hand, is a religion, which is an area where McGilchrist treads lightly (reserved for the last chapter of his massive two-volume tome).
Catholicism is also the intersection between the world and heaven, Christ's ark to carry as many souls as possible. It is a worldly institution with other-worldly aims. And it was instituted by God Himself.
So here's the thing: Catholicism isn't just a religion. It is the Thing that encompasses all things. The only thing that falls outside its all-encompassing reality is non-reality: falsity, evil, ugliness.
The Hemisphere Hypothesis--being chockful of truth, reality, and beauty--belongs to Catholicism.
The Hemisphere Hypothesis is as symbiotic with Catholicism as the Bellagio fountains and other attractions are to the Las Vegas strip. The Las Vegas strip doesn't need the attractions, and it would exist without them, but they certainly enhance the experience.
Such it is with the Hemisphere Hypothesis. It enhances the world and, thereby, enhances Catholicism, especially in these troubled modern times.
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