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The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image
     

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image

4.2 10
by Leonard Shlain
 

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From the author of the bestselling Art and Physics comes a new book with breathtaking implications. Making remarkable connections across a wide range of subjects, including neurology, anthropology, history, and religion, Leonard Shlain argues that the development of alphabetic literacy itself reinforced the human brain's left hemisphere -- linear,

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The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict between Word and Image 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a dedicated reader with many thousands of books behind me, I have rarely put down a volume saying, "This book changed my life." By that I mean that I will never think about certain things in the same way. For decades I have wondered why religions are so damned complex and counterintuitive; why there had to be a "dominant" sex; why war, torture, and inhumanity in civilized societies. Why was the Old Testament God so self absorbed, so remote, so vengeful? Why was the New Testament Jesus transmogrified from a simple carpenter whose greatest act was dying, then disappearing from the tomb, when his living was the examplar of dignity, tolerance, gentleness and kindness? Why do people of the book (representing the world's three great literate religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) seem to be the most resistant to modernism? These questions and many more were answered in this book. The writer, whom I tried but failed to understand in "Art and Physics," captured my attention in this book immediately with his blend of religion, philosophy, human behavior, and history. I feel changed by at last being able to relate the rise and fall of civilizations to a meaningful series of developmental events. This should be fascinating reading for anyone interested in why people act like they do from the Garden of Eden to today's corporate culture. Dr. Shlain has really gotten my attention and I recommend this book to everyone I know.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm intrigued, but not surprised, by the polarized remarks elicited by this book - great books do that, and this one is no exception. The premise of Dr. Shlain's book cuts to the moral-ethical core of Western and Eastern civilizations and addresses the provocative question, why do men rule instead of women? Of course, by men he means masculine 'virtues' of agression, physical domination, might-makes-right, survival of the fittest, id-ego, and all those other explanations that we men use to justify our wants and needs. The author asks simply, why didn't feminine values (nurturing, loving, inclusion) reign supreme? The answer that he proposes is based upon the well-known split-brain phenomenon in neuropsychology, i.e., each human being harbors two distinct personalities governed by separate regions in the right and left hemispheres. The masculine left brain specializes in analytical, rational thought processes used in alphabet-based language and mathematics. The feminine right brain uses intuitive, wholistic thought processes important in metaphor-based language and image recognition (for more information, read about Dr. Roger Sperry's Nobel Prize winning studies and the related titles below). Dr. Shlain proposes that male domination corresponded with rapid development of the left brain promoted initially by the invention of the alphabet (and further expanded by progress in mathematics, writing, and the printing press). At each stage, he cites cultural changes that devalued feminine values and promoted male domination. Not since Freud has there been such a bold, innovative attempt to understand the source of the battle of the sexes. This book will be of interest to anyone unsatisfied with the standard theories couched in psychoanalytical and evolutionary perspectives. This book reaches for a higher ground of discourse between the sexes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the book because I was able to apply some of my own knowledge of the history of the Universe (evolution) in order to understand the view of the shaping of 'man'kind. I struggled with my religious beliefs while reading the book. I no longer envision God as a man with a white beard looking down at me. This book questions the authority which the written word can have upon people (religious books for example). It does NOT question the virtues of Moses or Jesus or Buddha or Muhammad or the Tao Way. It did show me some ugly history that religious followers might not want to know. 'Witch burning' of precious but overly powerful women by a church biased toward men is just one. It makes me think abstract beliefs (combined with a powerful communication process) and masculine values that are recognized more than feminine ones, has caused some problems in the past. The author made a stiking, but logical, blow at languages that have the weak and powerless words usually in the feminine tense. I'd treat the author to lunch anytime just for thinking so originally. Even if everything in the book is not perfectly true, the major 'bones' of the communication tools affecting the way humans think is (I believe) in conjunction with the truth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A 'absolute' read for academicians, historians, sociologists, psychologists, philosophers. educators, et al. It is one of the most explanatory surveys of the evolution of the human condition (sociology) that I had the good fortune to come upon. The now obvious limitations of language as they impinge upon rationalist attempts to evaluate existential realities are here given biological,sociological and historical foundations. Millenia of distortions vis a vis 'male-female' orientations are factually and reasonably addressed with definitively substantive argumentation. The bibliography and chapter notes make this a classic research 'tool' for any student of the afore-mentioned diciplines. Additionally, it offers any person in positions of social responsiblity (government and politics) a realization of the 'roots' of generally accepted social attitudes and conditions of human behaviors. It is a 'must' read for anyone who offers to 'speak to' or 'legislate for' society, national or international. I cannot recomment it too highly.
ChefGeorge More than 1 year ago
I have given several copies of this book to my daughters and friends. The writer challenges the reader to rethink old paradigms and examine the relationship of power to knowledge. Whether it be a Higher Power or career power, power is found in knowledge and wisdom. The book moves the reader through time examining those who hold the domain of the Word and therefore power. The reader is left feeling very empowered to live in our current world and challenged to gain more knowledge. . . and therefore power. Prepare to buy this book for others, especially who those who may be on a spiritual quest or may need encouragement toward empowerment.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazingly deceptive treatise--it is well written and enchanting, but horribly derelict in correlation to reality. The author begins with a crusade and fits disparate, unproven and controversial data from unknown and suspect sources, mixes in a bit of breast beating apology, ('Don't take anything in this book to be truthful--just interesting!')and serves up a polemic. Yes, Virginia, men are different from women--but to blame literacy is a stretch. I love books so much that I could never throw one away--so I left this one on an airplane 'accidently'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I look at my bookcase and what do I see? Books by women... many books by woman. I go to the library and who do I see? Women reading...women reading books. We are a remarkably literate gender and one for whom written communication seems to come so naturally. As a budding author with a background in psychology and education I simply do not think that the author has effectively supported his rather outlandish thesis.