Wholeness, Imagination, and Cosmos with Iain McGilchrist, Ralston College, USA

  Wednesday 13th to Friday 15th March 2024, 5pm to 7pm
(in-person event – and recorded for registered attendees) 

Event description.

The Sophia Lectures explore the perennial questions of philosophy as they bear on the meaning and value of modern life.  While the lecture series aims to make sense of our contemporary moment, it does so through the study of Western culture’s foundational texts, ideas, and spiritual insights

This year’s Sophia Lectures – Wholeness, Imagination, and the Cosmos – will be given by the distinguished psychiatrist, neuroscience researcher, philosopher, and literary scholar, Dr Iain McGilchrist. 

The word ‘cosmos’ implies a beautiful and harmonious whole. For at least the last 300 years, and arguably much longer in the Western world, we have come to see the universe as at best a mechanism, if not a mere agglomeration of material bits and pieces, without intrinsic order, purpose, or meaning.  Its wholeness has been lost, and with it our capacity to understand ourselves in relation to that whole.  This follows an exaggerated tendency to use our analytic, and therefore naturally fragmenting, faculty to the exclusion of our capacity to see complex wholes, and above all to understand the profoundly relational nature of all that exists.  This tension arises because of the necessary evolutionary specialisations of the two cerebral hemispheres, a tension which can and should be fruitful; we need harmony between both ways of being in the world if we are to flourish.  In the absence of that harmony, the harmony that brings depth to life, the world is drained of its meaning.  But crucially, though each hemisphere plays a role, they are not of equal import. 

In these three lectures, Dr McGilchrist will draw on neuropsychology and physics, as well as the Humanities – philosophy, poetry, music, painting, and myth. He will elaborate the important differences between the two hemispheres in three principal respects; first, in regard to the important creative dance between division and union, in which each plays a part, but which must be brought together in a union at a higher level; second, the importance of this cooperative relationship being asymmetrical in nature, as well as the part played by asymmetry in every part of the cosmos, especially in life and beauty; and third, how to understand paradox – in particular how we can begin to make sense of the concept of the infinite. Dr McGilchrist fears that if we fail to understand these matters, we will continue to sleepwalk into the abyss. 

Please join us for one or all of these lectures:

  • Session 1: Division and Union
  • Session 2: Symmetry and Asymmetry 
  • Session 3: Finitude and the Infinite

These events are free, open to the public and will be recorded. 

To reserve your place and further details (including location), please register here here.