Think Spiral: The Divided Brain and Classical Liberalism

31 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2019 Last revised: 4 Nov 2020

See all articles by Daniel B. Klein

Daniel B. Klein

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Iain MCGilchrist


Date Written: September 1, 2019


Iain McGilchrist richly explains the right and left hemispheres of the brain, how each functions and what each tends to do. This paper serves, firstly, as a primer to McGilchrist’s fascinating exposition. Second, it offers a formulation that uses a spiral to structure the iterative and layered relationship. Third, it presents McGilchrist’s concerns about how modernity has enfeebled the right hemisphere, and how the left hemisphere is, at it were, running amok. Fourth, it considers some of McGilchrist’s political overtones. Sharing McGilchrist’s concerns, finally, I elaborate why they might lead us to look to classical liberalism as the best way to avoid the traps of the left hemisphere, to invigorate the health of the right hemisphere, and to cope with modernity.

Keywords: Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, leadership, management, sympathy, apophatic, Aufhebung

JEL Classification: A11, A12, A13, B52, B53, D6, D8

Suggested Citation

Klein, Daniel B. and MCGilchrist, Iain, Think Spiral: The Divided Brain and Classical Liberalism (September 1, 2019). SOCIETY, Forthcoming. , GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 19-36, Available at SSRN: or

Daniel B. Klein (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Iain MCGilchrist


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