The Psychology of Consciousness by Robert E. Ornstein (W. H. Freeman £1 50)
CENTRAL to the theme of this book is the concept of the bifunctional brain in man. The theme is not more formidable than what its author, Professor Robert Ornstein, attempts — the recone ciliation of the two basic approaches to knowledge, the rational and the 'intuitive.
The measure of his success may be judged from the clarity with which he describes the brain's specialised function.
This specialisation of function, he makes clear, also occurs at higher 'levels of mental activity. The left hemisphere of the brain (connected to the right side of the body) is predominantly involved with analytical, logical thinking.
This hemisphere seems to
proce.es, information sequentially, and 'it controls the verbal and mathematical skills which are tamsured by I.Q. tests. The right 'hemisphere is primarily respe-itsible for our orientation In space, recognition of faces, artistic creativity, and physical self-awarenew
Compared to the mainly a.ntal yti cal and sequential
operation of the left 'hemisphere, that of the right hemisphere seems to be more 'simultaneous and more intuitive.
The different functions of the two brain hemispheres may be the basis for important differences 'between individuals
and between cultures. According to Professor Ornstein, western thought, with ilts emphasis Cin verbal and mathematical 'rationality, is
left-hemisphere dominated; eastern thought, 'particularly as manifested in Yoga, Zen and Sufism, is primarily influenced by the right .hemisphere.
This 'book is an attempt to redress the balance, to begin to integrate the rational and intuitive a pproaches to knowledge, and to consider the essential complementarity of these two modes of consciousness.
What is needed now is a new synthesis : in the wools of William Blake, a "cleansing of the doors of perception." Ornstein believes that contemporary psychology its undergoing the first stirrings of such a synthesis.