Epistemology and the Hemispheres



From the moment we are born, we are left in a world where there is more uncertainty and chaos than there is objective truth and simplicity. It is only natural for us to do philosophy and start to uncover some of the reasons why things are so chaotic and complex. I am not the first one to investigate the field of truth and epistemology. There have been countless philosophers and psychologists who have studied the mind and the world from different perspectives, and each of them has given their view or theory of how it all works. My aim in this post will be to provide a literature review of the various philosophers that studied epistemology and at last synthesize all the information to give my conclusion. I wrote this post because of a book I stumbled upon and found profound insight from. The book is called, Master and His Emissary, by Iain Gilchrist and there is the sequel to a more comprehensive version now called, Matter with Things. I really enjoyed reading and listening to Iain Gilchrist, who is both a philosopher and a psychiatrist. His expertise focus on the synthesis of neuropsychology and epistemological truth. Some of the questions that he asks include:

"Why is the brain, an organ that exists only to make connections divided? Why is it asymmetrical in both structural and functional respect? Why does the brain's functioning seem to depend on its being asymmetrical? And why is the major connection between the two cerebral hemispheres, the corpus callosum, getting proportionately smaller, and functionally more inhibitory rather than larger, and functionally more facilitatory..." Master and His Emissary

I will investigate these questions as we progress through the history of epistemology, but the reason why I bring these up at the beginning is that it fundamentally changes the way we look at philosophy. These questions annihilate the long-lasting debate between empiricists and rationalists, spiritualists and materialists, theists, and atheists, and so forth. The underlying theme behind the questions is that we must understand how our brain perceives the world before making bold claims about its grandiose truth. Perhaps, the greatest mistake a man can make is to believe his rationality and never question his method. How our brains come to understand the world is far more important than the reality of the world itself. Our inherent predispositions to view things in a certain manner due to the asymmetry of our brains give us reason to review neurological literature of patients with hemispheric strokes or severe epilepsies. I have found tremendous confidence in Iain's writings simply because he comes from a social humanities background, yet he is a medical practitioner. In his comprehensive writings, he cites many experimental and anecdotal findings that conclude how flawed our left hemispheric viewpoint is. But before I delve deep into the science of our embodied selves, we need to go back all the way to Socrates and look at the history of how epistemology has changed.

How did people approach the truth 2000 years back, and how have our ways of knowing developed since then? What were their methods of reasoning and rationality? What were the greatest debates? What were some profound insights that these epistemologists came to that changed future ways of looking at the world?

Epistemology is the study of truth and the questioning of how to arrive at that truth. Epistemology is very connected to existentialism because the more we know about the world, the more we know about ourselves. And the more we know about ourselves, the more we know about the world. Existentialism is more personal and self-driven, while epistemology is more social and intellectually driven. I have decided to split these two topics because there is far too much to talk about each of them. Nonetheless, it is important to know that our purpose, freedom, and value in the world only come from our interaction with that very world. We cannot intuitively know our purpose until we swim around, explore the world, and take note of some of the greatest philosophers' insights. For the sake of simplicity, I will not be addressing any moral arguments in this post. It will be more focused on epistemological concepts. That isn't to say that our moral deeds are not important to understand the truth, which even I would disagree with. But I prefer to leave my personal moral judgments aside and do philosophy from an intellectual point of view. Of course, morality will be discussed heavily when I write about existentialism, as that is where it belongs and makes more sense. 


The word philosophy means love of wisdom in Latin, but I think we take philosophy to be some sort of grandiose intellectual path. The philosophy at the core requires a soft heart filled with curiosity and wonder. The hard sciences always attempt to break things into pieces and analyze the parts to somehow conclude the whole of those very parts. Yet, this approach devalues the way the parts connect with one another and give rise to inherent being-ness. It is here that Socrates enters our discussion. Socrates clearly wasn't the first philosopher in Athens, and he certainly wasn't the only one doing philosophy. So why is Socrates so important, and why do we consider him the father of all philosophy?

In our search for truth, the first step is wonder, and this was what drives all philosophy. The first step is to ask questions, and intuitively remind ourselves that these very questions may never have any answers. Socrates is famously known for his Socratic Seminar for this very reason. He emphasized asking questions and pointing out the fallacy of truly knowing anything. In this way, he started a new way of thought, one that involved refining our idea of knowing and in turn realizing how little we truly know. In fact, Socrates never wrote anything as he realized that true philosophy cannot be done passively through reading, rather it must be done through analytical questioning.

"I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others." Socrates.

When Socrates went around asking questions of Athenians, he quickly realized the ignorance of their own misunderstanding. He realized that far too many people think they know a lot about themselves and others, but when asked the right questions, hardly anyone gives the correct answers, if any answers. In Plato's Apology, Socrates says,

"I thought to myself, I am wiser than this man; for neither of us really knows anything fine and good, but this man thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas I, as I do not know anything, do not think I do either. I seem, then, in just this little thing to be wiser than this man at any rate, that what I do not know I do not think I know either."

The implication of this is truly enormous for the current population. Our understanding has to continually be refined before we come to a definite conclusion because if another Socrates does come into our world, we must be prepared to answer his difficult questions. Only by affirming that we do not know anything in the current moment, can we truly be motivated to seek the truth. But even when we think we have arrived at the truth, it is best to continue refining it to the best ability. 


Socrates wrote very little, but it was his student and pupil, Plato, that brought his teachings into the world. Some even say that Plato put words into Socrates' mouth by writing about the various things he thought were important, not necessarily the ones Socrates thought were. Nonetheless, his views are useful and are often the foundation for metaphysical philosophy. Plato is mainly known for his Theory of Forms. This is aligned with the story of Allegory of the Cave written in The Republic. The allegory highlights the human condition, which is filled with ignorance. Even if someone were to escape the caves and look at a reality beyond the shadows, when that person comes back, no one would be interested in hearing him. The process of enlightenment, according to Plato, follows a similar structure. Wise people are able to realize the subtleties of our materialistic world and see beyond them, as Plato puts it, see at their true forms.

"People are born blind and do not have the capacity to see. Those with free will have sight but can abandon it by shutting their eyes. And those who are able to see beyond the shadows and the lies of their very culture will never be understood, let alone believed by the masses." The Republic.

The true forms of things do not lie in their material constructs, but rather in their inherent qualities. For Plato, the cave is a representation of our senses, which only output the immediate world in front of us. But that world is only a shadow of a more real-world which is outside that cave. This real-world consists of metaphysical attributes that are only understood by doing philosophy and meditation. What is the truth? Socrates thought truth must be examined by questioning, while his student, Plato thought that truth must be sought by overcoming your sensory modalities. We now turn to Descartes, who took this skeptical ideology even further. Plato points out that these forms that eternal, never changing, and inherently good. Such things include beauty, justice, unity, truth, and value. He argues that we fall in love not with a person, but with the idea of beauty. This metaphysical attribute of beauty is subtle and only available through the more gross environment. Trees, for example, are inherently aesthetic because their attributes of unity, life, and love give us a reason to enjoy them. The physical character of the tree is meaningless but because it holds these metaphysical attributes, it is of value. His ultimate theory is that all things are made of the same form or fabric. All things have this goodness within them, and that is why all things exist in the world. Nothing is truly evil, the evil thing just has less goodness within it.

Rene Descartes

One of the most famous quotes of philosophy is "Cogito Ergo Sum" or as translated in English, "I think, therefore I am." It was this profound insight that Descartes received while writing his very long and comprehensive book, Meditations. Descartes was a rationalist, and he built on the idea that we cannot trust our senses to provide accurate information about the world or ourselves. He was also a profound skeptic and came up with an evil demon thought experiment. He supposed that what if there was an evil demon or some external entity that deceives us in the way we look at the world. This demon's only job was to make sure you were satisfied with your delusion of reality and never to question its validity. In his eyes, there was no way to be absolutely 100% sure that what he perceived as real was actually real, and there was no way to deny or absolutely be 100% sure that a demon did not exist simply to deceive his mind. But as we know, Descartes was able to overcome this skepticism by providing a simple premise. He stated that if he was able to think about the deception, that meant that he existed for sure. If he was able to think about this potential demon figure, then that meant that the demon figure couldn't really deceive him. Descartes believed that if he was able to doubt reality, then he was able to exercise his free will, and that meant he existed. An entity cannot doubt something that doesn't exist for if it truly did not exist, there would be no way of doubting it or conceptualizing it. In other words, since we are able to think of things, their parts or at least some of their parts must exist. There are many philosophical counters to this argument, and I do not have the time to go through them. My goal was simply to present Descartes' thinking. Personally, I think he was mistaken in thinking that he exists because he is able to think. A clear counter-example would be that I think about unicorns, but they don't really exist. So how can I be sure that the thing that I am thinking about is not just a combination of real and unreal things? Food for thought. ' It is funny enough to mention Descartes thought that the soul resided in our brains, mainly in the pineal glands. This is hysterical because the pineal glands, alongside the pituitary, are key to our endocrine and autonomic nervous systems. The endocrine system regulates hormones and in turn gives us subjective emotions such as sadness, anger, and happiness. the pineal glands are also involved with wakefulness cycles, which is perhaps why Descartes thought our souls resided in them. Similarly, the autonomic nervous system helps us survive and make sure we learn safety and avoid danger. Both of these systems are regulated by the hormones that are signaled from the pituitary glands. Ironically, pituitary glands are more associated with emotional learning than they are with rationality and reason. It is funny that Descartes thought that the nexus of our core resided in the pineal glands. i can understand maybe the reference to the increased alertness and awareness that comes from a highly active pineal gland, but it seems farfetched to say that our soul is it. If the soul is defined as the entity that does the reasoning, it would follow that the frontal lobes mainly the prefrontal cortex are more associated with it rather than the limbic structures.

The other major contribution that Descartes brings is mind-body dualism, which is aligned with the pituitary gland. He postulates that the mind is separate from the body, and is divine in itself. However clearly, we know how embedded the mind and body are, and that our brains, which are part of the physical body, literally determine our ability to make decisions, think and even do philosophy. With all these flaws, Descartes' philosophy does influence the way we look at epistemology. It is the errors in philosophy that propagate it towards the truth, and hence Descartes's mistakes aren't all in vain. The truth we search for is constantly dependent on the subject and object, which are actually one but mistaken to be seen as dualistic. Descartes believed that if the subject were to think of a particular object, that would mean that that object is in some relation to the subject. After all, the mind cannot think of something that has no relation to its previous knowledge. Even the unicorn is possible to be thought of because of my relation to thinking about horses, and my relation to watching TV shows. Whatever my mind perceives is a product of how the various objects in the world are related to the core subject, which I call 'Me' or 'my mind. I will conclude his section by reporting this quote, which sums up his philosophy:

"I saw that while I could pretend that I had no body and that there was no world and no place for me to be in, I could not for all that pretend that I did not exist. I saw on the contrary that from the mere fact that I thought of doubting the truth of other things, it followed quite evidently and certainly that I existed; whereas if I had merely ceased thinking even if everything else I had ever imagined had been true, I should have had no reason to believe that I existed. From this, I knew I was a substance whose whole essence or nature is simply to think, and which does not require any place, or depend on any material thing, in order to exist."

Immanuel Kant

We have only been talking about rationalists so far, and it is natural that rationalists predominate over empiricists in the earlier stages of scientific discovery. Of course, now that we have greater tools for understanding the physical world, we can allow empiricists to guide us to view the world from a sensory modality. Kantian philosophy also follows a more rationalist approach. He believes that our underlying moralities and social progression rely on our ability to reason and think about things from a rational perspective. This rationale perspective is focused on logic, deduction, and language. Kant's transcendental idealism is one of the most important ideas in the history of epistemology. I quote his summary below:

"We have therefore wanted to say that all our intuition is nothing but the representation of appearance; that the things that we intuit are not in themselves what we intuit them to be, nor are their relations so constituted in themselves as they appear to us; and that if we remove our own subject or even only the subjective constitution of the senses in general, then all constitution, all relations of the object in space and time, indeed space and time themselves would disappear and as appearances, they cannot exist in themselves, but only in us."

What Kant is referring to is the foundation of transcendentalism. It is the notion that the world is literally re-presented to us through our senses and transduced by our nervous system. We cannot appreciate the truth of nature without adding layers of our own physiological and psychological patterns. He adds further that things cannot exist outside the mind because their very essence lies in the way we interpret and intuit them. In other words, if we strip away all of our physiological and psychological modalities, we will also strip away the very thing that those modalities were designed to examine. This sort of idealism is often the foundation for all meditative practices. It also goes back to show us the relationship between the subject and object phenomenon. The subject is the awareness that does the re-presentation, while the object is the thing that is represented; but this object is not outside the mind. Contrarily, the subject can't exist either without having the task of examining the object, for if the qualities of the world were to be taken away, there is nothing to attend to. And if there is nothing to attend to, the subject has no entity or essence. Transcendentalism, as studied by Ralph Emerson and Henry Thoreau, takes this even further and notes that a divine or spiritual force pervades all things in the world. Therefore, even if the objects are only re-presentations of the mind, the divine energy in those objects exists outside the mind. That divine energy pervades all mental conceptions, and it actualizes the object to come into being without there being a subject involved. We can never experience things in themselves, but only their appearances as they are posited by faculties. For me to be self-conscious, I cannot be absorbed in my own perceptions and representations, but rather be able to distinguish myself from the world. Yet how is this possible if self-consciousness is a product of the mind itself? How can the self see itself without truly changing its essence? This topic requires another post, but Kantian epistemology states that a self cannot see itself without representing itself, hence it requires another faculty or some sort of divine tool to see its own true entity.

David Hume

So far we have only talked about rationalists in their pursuit of truth. They have all analyzed the various methods that can be used to understand truth. Socrates mentioned it was only truth questioning, Plato thought truth is understood through seeing inherent metaphysical qualities of objects, Descartes thought it is by affirming one's own existence through thinking, and Kant believed it was done through transcendental entities that are outside the mind. All of these come from the premise that our senses are flawed, and that we must think and reason our way towards the truth. We now come to our first empiricist, David Hume, who like the others was heavily skeptical of our understanding of the world, but instead of criticizing the senses, he promoted their use to come closer to the truth. His approach to truth is more practical and less theory-driven. His theory focuses on the experience of the world as it comes to our senses rather than the mental occupation of analyzing its constructs.

"All our simple ideas in their first appearance are derived from simple impressions, which are correspondent to them, and which they exactly represent." Treatise by Hume.

Here, he suggests that our very simple ideas are driven by impressions that accurately present things in the world. This is very contrary to Kant, who suggested the act of representation is flawed. However, for Hume, impressions are the only way we can get to the truth if any truth. Hence our best bet is to allow observation and experimentation to be our guide to create certain impressions about the world. Hume is also famously known for the Hume fork which gives us two truths: relations of ideas and matters of fact. The facts are analytic while the relations are synthetic. The facts are mainly derived from a-priori claims or from empirical analysis. For example, I can say that 2+2 is 4, or that the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, or that the president of the US is Joe Biden in 2022, and so forth. These are facts that can be examined in through our senses. On the contrary, the relations are inherently true because of logic and reasoning. They follow an if-then supposition. For example, if all bachelors are single, then all bachelors are unmarried. The second statement has to be true if the first one is true because of how marriage and being single are related to one another. In this way, we can use reasoning to determine if things are real or not based on how their relations work out in the world. For Hume, pure reason cannot tell us anything about the world, and we need empirical evidence of things to make logical claims. For Kant, it is only through reason and ideas that we can study the truth. This is why there is a fork, that represents two ways of analyzing the truth: one through observing things and making hypotheses and the other through reasoning about their relations. However, later on, Kant ended up rejecting his own idea of pure reason, and concluded that "although all knowledge begins with the senses, we can use our experiences to inform our reason, and vice versa; We can't rely on our senses alone, but nor can we rely on pure rationalization." Critique of Pure Reason, Kant. This gives us a more synthetic view that we require both experience and reasoning to come up with the truth.

William James

By the time the argument between Kant and Hume had ended, the rationalists and empiricists had already realized the fallacy in the fork and had started to come up with a more holistic approach. It was then that William James started his philosophy of pragmatism. Personally, I have been heavily influenced by James because of his background in the psychological, neurological, and religious areas. He is known to be the founder of modern neuropsychology and psychophysiology. Many of our neurological models come from his understanding of how our nervous system related to our behavior and mood. The James-Lange theory suggests that our feelings are embodied in our physical bodies and that each conscious experience of emotion has a physiological marker preceding it. The physiological markers can be either in the brain or in the bloodstream through hormones. Regardless of what the actual markers are, the principle is that our unconscious processing precedes our conscious experience of the world. From a pragmatic viewpoint, James always saw empiricism as more dominant than rationality. His expertise in the medical field gave him the foundation for making claims about the brain and its neurons. It was at this time in history that the scientific revolution had begun to really accelerate and lead to newer findings. We had only started to know more about the brain and the nervous system. James' passages on habit and instinct suggest that all our knowledge comes from the way we attend to different things in the world. Our attention is fluctuated and is modulated by the things we are habituated to attending. James suggests that before we can even be aware of what to attend to, our unconscious processes already start to distinguish things as desirable and not desirable. In this way, we construct the world through our own presupposed habits. This is why James emphasizes the importance of building good habits and being attentive to your own tendencies. Later on in his life, James turned towards religion as he found it more synthetic and less tedious. His book, Varieties of Religious Experiences, suggests that there is no absolute truth that we can understand. Instead, truth is something that becomes part of the experience of phenomena. Truth is a tool used to experience reality in a way that doesn't seem ambiguous or obsolete. In other words, truth happens and is not something that is fixed in place. I quote him,

"Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events. Its verity is in fact an event, a process: the process namely of its verifying itself, its veri-fication. Its validity is the process of valid-ation."

Truth is a process, that is in constant flux, and is influenced by conditions and events. Anything can be believed as true if it happened enough times and had the right conditions for its presence. James' pragmatic approach is the common ground in today's science. Our science is revolved around the idea that truth is something that is constantly worth pursuing but never settling for. Hence, the scientific method requires all theories to be falsifiable. If a theory is not falsifiable, it is not testable. As contradictory as it may sound, the pragmatic approach looks at truth as an untruth if the right conditions for the truth do not appear in the real world.

Iain Gilchrist and the Hemispheres

We finally arrive at the most modern theory of epistemology, one of my favorite ones involving the two hemispheres. William James had already started bringing the brain sciences into the field of philosophy when he started writing, but our current models of the brain give us much more information to make concrete theories about the world. Iain Gilchrist, as mentioned earlier, is a psychiatrist and a philosopher who writes about the differences between the hemispheres and their implication on our view of the world.

"It is not what each hemisphere does, but how it does it that matters. Each hemisphere is involved in everything, true enough; just in a quite different way."

The neurosciences have always emphasized how lateralized our brains are and that each hemisphere is functionally and anatomically very similar to its counterpart. Yet, from case studies and experiments with patients with one-sided strokes or lesions, we can start to see how drastically different the hemispheres work in their approach to understanding the world. The gross explanation is that the left hemisphere is apprehensive, while the right is comprehensive. Again, these claims are made from scientific experimentation and the analysis of how patients act when they have strokes on either side. Gilchrist notes that the patients that have a left-sided stroke continue to perceive the world, just not understand its complexity. They are still able to make general assumptions about objects and their places but are unable to give you the exact details of them. On the other hand, patients with a right-sided stroke completely lose the intimate connection with the self and become more isolated. This is because the right hemisphere is responsible for synthesizing implicit information about the world. So even if people can pinpoint the objects and ideas in their minds, they cannot refer to their context and therefore they cannot see the world as a whole, but only in its pieces. In this way, the left hemisphere apprehends data from the world and creates categorical and analytical models of it through its algorithms. While the right hemisphere is more abstract and relies on working on a more synthetic level and incorporating moment-to-moment context. Gilchrist uses the metaphor of a master and his emissary in his first book to describe the roles of each hemisphere.

"In terms of the metaphor of the Master and his emissary, the Master realizes the need for an emissary to do certain work on his behalf (which he, the Master, must not involve himself with) and report back to him. That is why he appointed the emissary in the first place. The emissary, however, knowing less than the Master, thinks he knows everything and considers himself the real Master, thus failing to carry out his duty to report back." 

What a beautiful metaphor for how our hemispheres work with one another. The left hemisphere is very analytical and hyper-focuses on the details while losing the picture of the bigger context. It is sent out to find those details and bring them back to the right hemisphere, however, it ends up making its own patterns based on the information it finds. Thus, we start to see the world in very reductionist ways, where we lack any sense of intuition and meaning and focus more on pattern-seeking through algorithmic methods. Even if we try to distinguish the very characteristics of each of the hemispheres, we are only using the left one, because that is the one that sees the world in a categorical representation. If we bring the right hemisphere along and use other methods such as art and imagination, we start to see how limited language truly is. All speech is present in the left hemisphere, yet the prosody and gestural processing is done in the right. The left is focused on paying attention, while the right is set back and more available for awareness of various processes. Even the mechanisms of anxiety and depression correlate to the theory. Depression has hypofunction in the left hemisphere, which is the more analytical one. This means our analytical thinking and ability to pay attention are minimized and we tend to be demotivated to attend and be interested in the world around us. On the other hand, anxiety has hyper functionality in the left prefrontal cortex, which again shows that our analytical mind has become overactive and that we need to take a step back and increase the right side's role in aiding context, nonjudgemental awareness and become more aligned with our bodies.

"If a neuropsychologist had to choose three things to characterize most clearly the functional contribution of the right hemisphere, they would most probably be the capacity to read human face, the capacity to sustain vigilant attention, and the capacity to empathize." Master of Emissary.

The right hemisphere is well aligned with tasks that involve memory and emotion. Reading faces and empathizing with people can't be done simply by an algorithmic program that measures certain conditions and tries to match them each time a stimulus is present. So the left brain isn't useful in this manner. Instead, the right brain is more dominant in bringing intuition and memory and allowing emotion to give us the intimate feeling of knowing someone or being able to love something. There are four things that the left hemisphere does, which are problematic to our way of understanding the truth. They are presented below:

"First, the left hemisphere view is designed to aid you in grabbing stuff. Its purpose is utility and its evolutionary adaptation lies in the service of grasping and amassing 'things.' Second, the left hemisphere view offers simple answers. Its mode of thinking prizes consistency above all and claims to offer the same mechanistic models to explain everything that exists. Third, the left hemisphere's worldview is easier to articulate. The left hemisphere is the speaking hemisphere: the right hemisphere has literally no voice. Fourth, since the industrial revolution, we have created a world around us which, in construct to the natural world, reflects the left hemisphere's priorities and its vision." Master and His Emissary.

Every time I read or write these things, I feel great profundity in Iain's writings. I can tell how his theory of interhemispheric difference is grounded in research and detailed analysis. After all, he is a medical scientist and his philosophy is grounded in empirical data. His comprehensive literature review can be found in either of his books, where he highlights how he comes to conclusions of interhemispheric differences. Anyways, let us analyze each of the ways the left hemisphere obstructs our view of truth.

Firstly, the left hemisphere is grabbing stuff, which is similar to the apprehensive analogy. The truth cannot be grabbed by trying to see reality in patterns of 'things.' Things are simply impressions of our psyche imposing themselves onto the world. So naturally, grabbing things, or becoming obsessed with possession can be dangerous in our quest for the truth. To counter this, we can say the right hemisphere is relinquishing and letting go. These concepts come in Buddhism, where truth is understood not by examining things but by letting go of all conceptions of the mind and being aware of what comes and goes. Grabbing and relinquishing the need to be balanced to seek the truth.

Second, the left hemisphere offers simple answers through its mechanistic models. The left side loves analysis and breaking things down into smaller pieces. In fact, our institutions are designed to teach us this type of thinking. We want to learn more about the parts of a piece than to look at it as a whole. We want to see the mechanism in which cells become tissues, tissues become organs, and organs become organ systems. This mechanism is mainly through language or visualization.

Gilchrist writes, "When this sort of thinking encounters a problem in reconciling apparent irreconcilables- for example, matter and consciousness, it simply denies that one element or the other exists. That is very convenient.

So the left brain, often, gives up or doubts things that are complex or have no inherent mechanism. Instead of embracing that 'I do not know Socrates' approach, we simply reject the claim of some abstract thing or entity existing. This is what happens with scientific authors, who rely too much on their empirical data. They assume that truth is mechanistic in nature and that all things can be understood by breaking them down into words or ideas. Perhaps the truth lies in the complexity and things beyond words. You can't provide a mechanism for something that cannot be explained.

Third, the left hemisphere is associated with speech, so naturally, our intellectual communication is dominated by it as well. Even as I write this, or talk to a friend about this, I am using the same side that I am attempting to avoid or use less of. We can't escape the left side's language-oriented approach. As humans, we have relied too much on speech to express our needs and ideas. But at the same time, we must understand its limitations. Explicit speech is irrelevant if it has no implicit meaning. In other words, besides the words, I need to know their cultural significance, their historical value, and the overall context of the situation. I need to pay attention to the way the language is presented and the gestures that are used. All these things are comprehended by my right hemisphere to aid my holistic view of truth. Agnosiac patients, who have right parietal lobe damage, though not able to identify objects, are able to tell when someone is lying just based on how the speaker talks. It is the vocal tones and the subtle speech gestures that aid them to know this. This is precisely the right side's role.

Lastly, our current world is filled with computerized and algorithmic information. Our websites and apps all have a program that indulges us to reinforce our tendencies to think with the left hemispheres. Our search engines have all the history of the past and invoke us to rely on mechanistic and concrete approaches to search things up. We no longer have discussions like Socrates asked us to, instead, we ask our questions on Google and hope that one of the websites gives us a clear and concise answer. We have become slaves of our reductionist thinking styles. We want answers fast and that is precisely what the Internet is there for. Yet, in this way, we have lost the ability to find a more holistic and deeper understanding of the truth that lives in social communication, discussion, and storytelling. This leads to my last point about epistemological methods: we need different modalities to learn things. We can't just rely on reading, writing, and math to be modes of learning and analyzing. We must incorporate the arts, anthropology, history, literature, and religion. The more synthetic our epistemological theories are, the closer they are to the truth. Perhaps there is no one truth that lies under everything, but at least if we are aware of the inherent cerebral flaws in viewing the world, we can start dodging them. The way our brains attend to the world determines how the world is colored. Therefore the balance of analysis and synthesis is the best way to go about doing philosophy.

"There are, it seems to me, four main pathways to the truth: science, reason, intuition, and imagination. I also believe strongly that any worldview that tries to get by without paying due respect to all four of these is bound to fail. " 

Iain Gilchrist, Master, and Emissary. 

 Key Takeaways

1. Philosophy starts with questioning our previous beliefs and scrutinizing our current models. Socrates asks us to involve ourselves in discussions and realize how little we truly know. This brings humility and openness to new and unknown realms of the world. 
2.  The allegory of the cave asks us to become cognizant of our ignorance. It reminds us that our whole view may just be shadows of the truth and that we may have to start looking at things more deeply. If a wise person, with convincing evidence, tells us something that may not fit our current way of looking at the world, instead of rejecting his claims, we should try exploring his ideas.
3. The great debate between the rationalists and empiricists has gone on for decades and after many attempts to rebuke one another, we come to the conclusion that neither of them can stand on themselves. Extreme rationality with skepticism, such as that of Descartes, may lead to very radical views that distort our way of looking at things. On the other hand, extreme empiricism may lead to reductionist patterns that have no contextual or personal meaning. Therefore, we should attempt to use both modes to do philosophy. 
4. The subject and object model is often seen as dualistic. We believe that there is a self that does the thinking and the objects are the things that the self attends to. However, both the subject and object only exist in relation to one another, so they cant be separate. The world and its objects are given inherent being-ness only if we choose to attend to them in certain manners while the attention or awareness itself cannot have beingness if it does not represent the world. All things exist in relationships, and the same is with matter and consciousness. 
5. The way our brains attend to the world defines how we are conscious of it and what we make of it. Understanding how our interhemispheric differences affect the way we view the world gives us insight into our flawed way of knowing and reduces our ignorance. Like, the master and his emissary, the right hemisphere presents the contents of the world to the left hemisphere, hoping that it could collect the details and bring them back to conceptualize the world as a whole. However, the greedy emissary, thinks that it knows more than the master so it views the world in pieces. If we bring other ways of knowing such as poetry, music, creative arts, literature, history, and anthropology in our approach to understanding the truth, we improve our right hemisphere processing and get a synthetic approach. Finally, since the right hemisphere is mainly involved with contextual thinking and nonjudgemental awareness, mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to improve that mode of knowing. Meditation strengthens our ability to be aware of the subtle changes in the environment without getting drawn into the fallacy of judging or coming up with mechanistic ways. 

 It is only through balancing our approach of letting go and exercising free will that we come to true knowledge about ourselves. The balance of the hemispheres can be seen in the practice of meditation, where the practitioner is first asked to apply sustained attention to a particular object and cultivate one-pointed attention. But then, later he is asked to let go and allow his awareness to take a stand back and observe whatever comes into his mind without any interference.