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Re: Richard Dawkins, Knowledge, and Faith

Re: Richard Dawkins, Knowledge, and Faith

Here’s something apropos the discussion of pragmatic realism. My wife is reading a book called My Stroke of Insight, in which neuroscientist Jill Taylor describes her massive left-hemispheric stroke and subsequent recovery. At one point Jill’s mother is helping with the rehab by having Jill work on crossword puzzles:

My right hand was extremely weak so just holding the pieces and making comparisons took a lot of effort. Mama watched me very closely and realized that I was trying to fit pieces together that obviously did not belong together based upon the image on the front side. In an effort to help me, G.G. noted ‘Jill, you can use color as a clue.’ I thought to myself color, color, and like a light bulb going off in my head, I could suddenly see color! I thought, Oh my goodness, that would certainly make it much easier! I was so worn out that I had to go to sleep. But the next day, I went straight back to the puzzle and put all the pieces together using color as a clue. Every day we rejoiced what I could do that I could not do the day before. It still blows my mind (so to speak) that I could not see color until I was told that color was a tool I could use. Who would have guessed that my left hemisphere needed to be told about color in order for it to register?”

There are plenty of interesting things embedded in this recount, but I’ll focus on one. Neurological research has demonstrated that the right brain is dominant in color detection, but the left brain controls systematic problem-solving tasks. The implication is that, while her intact right hemisphere could see color even after the stroke, her damaged left hemisphere didn’t remember how to use color pragmatically in solving the puzzle.


Richard Dawkins, Knowledge, and Faith By: Jacob (60 replies) 6 February, 2010 - 01:49