Logic and Inspiration – forging the connection

einstein

In school, from kindergarten to university and by society at large, you are taught to think. Intelligence is greatly valued and it is indeed a magnificent thing. You are taught how to take things apart – but not so much how to put them together. Generally, the emphasis is on non-constructive rather than on constructive thinking. We see the same in the media: everyone loves criticism and relishes stories of failure.

Right or wrong

Throughout your school career, the focus is mainly on all that is wrong with what and how you think. You are taught to recognise your errors, more than to recognise your strengths. You are criticised for mistakes in grammar, in spelling, in logical reasoning, and so on.
The red pen is omnipresent. The things that you do well, your bright ideas and creative solutions, tend to get ignored. Not surprisingly, research shows that most people are well-trained in using their left brain hemisphere. In western society, the intellect, arithmetic, reading, details, analysis, reasoning and logic take precedence over intuition. The intuitive right-hand hemisphere provides for a broader view, it maintains overview and is where new ideas originate. But we continue to be taught not to make mistakes, rather than to focus on originality. As a result, we are conditioned to act carefully and logically, and in so doing we also train and heed our own internal critic. 

Logic and intuition

Nietzsche and Einstein already told us so. The power of thought is very handy and indispensable, but logic alone will not produce any outstanding discoveries. In our society, the emphasis is on using the logical capacities of the left brain hemisphere.
But didn’t we also have another brain hemisphere? What use do we make of our right-hand hemisphere?
And what does this do for us?
Our brain is divided into two halves that each have their function. Put simply, the left side processes information bit by bit, with a keen eye for details. The key words here are logic, sequential, textual and analysis. The right hand processes information as a whole, so here the key words are synthesis, emotional expression, context and oversight.

Whenever you read a text, you do so word after word. Reading is typically a left brain activity. When you spot someone you know in the street, then you recognise this person in an instant. Here we see the right-hand side in action, which enables us to process a lot of information at once.

The challenge is to have both sides of the brain working in equilibrium. Using both sides makes you more creative and more innovative. You develop your vision and can also make this concrete and tangible. You can maintain an overview and identify connections. These are indispensable skills, now that we are progressing beyond the age of information. It will enable you to live on the basis of logical reasoning as well as of intuition.
And, not insignificantly: acknowledging both your left and right-hand hemispheres ensures that you can always choose an alternative approach to a situation. 
It is not so much a choice of left versus right, but a matter of bringing both into harmony. 

Reading tip:

A whole new mind, by Daniel H. Pink - ISBN10  1594481717 / ISBN13  9781594481710.

A quick sketch of some of the differences between the left and right brain hemispheres: 

Functions of the left-hand hemisphere::

Function of the right-hand hemisphere:

  • logical
  • detail
  • reality
  • practical
  • names of things
  • facts
  • words and language
  • present and past
  • arithmetic and science
  • comprehension
  • knowledge
  • recognising
  • patterns / order
  • strategy
  • safety
  • the bigger picture
  • impulsive
  • imagination
  • symbols and pictures
  • sense of time
  • philosophy
  • religion
  • meaning
  • conviction
  • appreciation
  • spatial awareness
  • fantasy
  • functional insight
  • seeing possibilities
  • taking risks

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