Article

Left and Right in the Bible from a Neuropsychological Perspective

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Abstract

Although in several neuropsychological works dealing with hemispheric specializations a few passages of the Bible referring to the left and the right have been mentioned now and then, a systematical study with a neuropsychological approach to this topic was still a missing link. By using concordance texts from the Bible books of the Hebrew Canon (Old Testament, OT) and from the New Testament (NT), all the verses containing any reference to the left and the right (OT = 151, NT = 49 verses) have been identified and classified into 10 groups: (1) references to space, (2) symmetric sayings, (3) the right hand is the favorite hand, (4) right eye preference, (5) God's right hand, (6) the right side is more prestigious, (7) the right side in liturgy, (8) left hand preference, (9) fatal left-hand shots, and (10) on the left side. Some statistical considerations have been put forward and a neuropsychological, anthropological approach has been suggested for the purpose of interpreting the most interesting verses. According to the author of the present paper, it would be worthwhile commenting on some texts of ancient and modern literature not only from a linguistic, historical, religious and theological point of view, but also by means of a neuropsychological approach.

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... Following these epistemological considerations, 20 years ago, Fabbro (1994Fabbro ( , 1995 studied the Hebrew Bible and New Testament from a neuropsychological perspective. In the following sections, we present a critical review of studies that have applied a neuropsychological approach to ancient literature. ...
... After reading Jaynes' work, one of us decided to apply the neuropsychological paradigm to concepts of 'right' and 'left' in the Bible (Fabbro, 1994(Fabbro, , 1995. The functional differences between the right and left hand correlate to the two cerebral hemispheres' distinct specializations (McManus, 2004). ...
... Biblical texts have been analyzed in their original languages using historical and critical research methods that identify all occurrences of terms meaning 'right' and 'left' (Fabbro, 1994(Fabbro, , 1995. In the Jewish Bible, 177 verses contain either of the two terms, while New Testament verses contain 49 references. ...
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The present work introduces the neuropsychological paradigm as a new approach to studying ancient literature. In the first part of the article, an epistemological framework for the proper use of neuropsychology in relation to ancient literature is presented. The article then discusses neuropsychological methods of studying different human experiences and dimensions already addressed by ancient literatures. The experiences of human encounters with gods among ancient cultures are first considered, through the contributions of Julian Jaynes and Eric R. Dodds. The concepts of right and left in the Bible, and that of soul are then discussed. Ecstatic experience in Paul of Tarsus is also presented, with a particular focus on glossolalia. Neuroscientific differences between mindful and unitive meditative practices are then described referring to ancient Buddhist literature, and finally a brief description of dreams in ancient Greek literature is proposed. Neuropsychology variously enables a more profound understanding of themes characterizing human experiences that ancient literature has already explored; these investigations prove that the collaboration of neuroscience and humanistic studies can return fruitful and interesting results.
... Fabbro (1994) les nomme « coup mortel de la gauche », nous considérons que cela symbolise le malheur ressenti par la mort de l'être touché. 4 Si dans les autres passages nous concluons, par la présence de différents mots ou idées, que la droite a une image positive et la gauche a une image négative, ce verset est emblématique dans la mesure où il y a une évocation ...
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La relation de la culture et de la religion est réciproque. Les cultures sont sous l’impact des religions et celles-ci subissent également l’impact des cultures. Ainsi parfois ce sont les éléments culturels d’une ethnie se manifestent de manière plus importante dans la religion de cette dernière, et parfois ce sont les enseignements religieux qui influencent la culture. Les côtés droit et gauche forment une opposition qui a des retentissements dans les deux domaines de la culture et de la religion. De par son existence dans les textes religieux, ce couple acquiert une connotation religieuse assez forte ; il a en plus une place importante dans différentes cultures que ce soient monothéistes ou même païens. Dans cet article, nous essayerons de nous pencher dans un premier temps sur l’origine et l’influence de ce couple dans l’un ou l’autre des domaines de la religion et de la culture où un schéma physique devient le critère du Bien et du Mal. Nous nous interrogerons sur son aspect multidimensionnel et étudierons les spécificités de ce couple évoquant un dualisme fort. Ainsi nous étudierons les impacts mutuels des connotations religieuses et culturelles de ce couple et ce à travers l’étude de différentes cultures. Dans un second temps, nous nous intéresserons aux textes sacrés de différentes religions afin d’y repérer les évocations à ce dualisme. Nous pourrions ensuite porter un regard comparatif sur les textes provenant de différentes religions et nous attarderons notamment sur la jurisprudence chiite qui s’avère un terrain fertile à l’existence de ce dualisme qui servirait d’un point de repère entre le Bien et le Mal.
... First, anthropological sources have long pointed out an association, culturally largely invariant, between "right" and "correct", "good" and "favorable" and between "left" and "depraved", "sinister" or "gauche", respectively (Hertz, 1909). This association is not likely to be due to peripheral factors like manual dexterity and skill, but rather reflects a more general tendency to expect safety in the right hemispace and danger on one's left (Fabbro, 1994;Tan, 1998). Whether these expectations are based directly on (unilateral) neural networks common to the analysis of both space and emotions or whether they reflect more abstract congruency effects in the frame of a metaphorical representation of affect (Crawford et al., 2006;Meier & Robinson, 2005) is currently a matter of debate. ...
Article
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... As Giotto amply illustrated, leftward and rightward directions not only affect perceptions of movement and time, but also they allude to moral status. In the New Testament, the left is associated with evil, sin, the Old Testament, worldliness and non-belief in the Christian god, while the right is associated with righteousness, spirituality, and accepting the truth of the New Testament (e.g., Fabbro, 1994). Giotto and his contemporaries spectacularly displayed the connection between left-right and evil-good in the numerous Last judgements over the main portals on the westside of naves, where Jesus with His left hand sent the wicked to hell, and with His right hand, the virtuous to heaven. ...
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Giotto's Arena Chapel frescoes, dating from the early fourteenth century, provide salient illustrations of two types of embodied perceptions. One is universal, a consequence of biology and the physical laws of nature, linked to the vertical dimension of space, and impacting on affect and moral judgement. The other is culturally determined, acquired from the direction of reading script and affecting perceptions of directions of movement, time and causality. Giotto's intuitive use of embodiments, the result of a newly evolving realism in painting, may have prompted late mediaeval chapel-visitors to empathize with the storied biblical characters, so that figures that were once only the object of religious veneration and awe were now made into living beings with a shared humanity, resulting in an awakening of a personal agency that fueled the Renaissance and Modernism.
... Bats, snakes, and other creatures that move low to the ground or emerge from underground frequently have negative religious connotations, as does darkness (which, by virtue of the vertical luminance gradient of the ambient visual world, is more prevalent in lower space). There are also negative connotations for leftward space, both generally (e.g., ''sinister'' derives the French word for left) and in religious contexts (Fabbro, 1994;Tan, 1998). For example, Persinger (1994) found in 83% of his subjects that ''sensed presences'' in the left visual field were associated with negative experiences (e.g., fear), where 83% of right-visual field presences were associated with pleasant experiences (e.g., angels). ...
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The neuropsychology of religious activity in normal and selected clinical populations is reviewed. Religious activity includes beliefs, experiences, and practice. Neuropsychological and functional imaging findings, many of which have derived from studies of experienced meditators, point to a ventral cortical axis for religious behavior, involving primarily the ventromedial temporal and frontal regions. Neuropharmacological studies generally point to dopaminergic activation as the leading neurochemical feature associated with religious activity. The ventral dopaminergic pathways involved in religious behavior most closely align with the action-extrapersonal system in the model of 3-D perceptual-motor interactions proposed by . These pathways are biased toward distant (especially upper) space and also mediate related extrapersonally dominated brain functions such as dreaming and hallucinations. Hyperreligiosity is a major feature of mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, temporal-lobe epilepsy and related disorders, in which the ventromedial dopaminergic systems are highly activated and exaggerated attentional or goal-directed behavior toward extrapersonal space occurs. The evolution of religion is linked to an expansion of dopaminergic systems in humans, brought about by changes in diet and other physiological influences.
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Le binôme droite-gauche est un couple tirant son origine d’une dualité qui s’illustre dans un premier temps dans l’espace de la vie de l’homme de par son expérience corporelle. Cette dualité trouve des évocations dans différents domaines dont les textes sacrés. Elle explique l’opposition Bien-Mal en attribuant le côté droit aux bienfaisants et le côté gauche aux malfaiteurs qui auront comme demeure éternelle respectivement le paradis et l’enfer, selon les enseignements religieux. Dans la littérature persane qui est imprégnée par la culture zoroastrienne et musulmane, cette dualité trouve des occurrences chez les auteurs qui la manient à leur gré afin de faire véhiculer les messages et valeurs qu’ils souhaitent. Les occurrences que nous avons repérées dans la littérature persane sont significatives des différentes valeurs véhiculées par ce binôme qui représentent, comme dans les textes sacrés, une opposition Bien-Mal, supériorité-infériorité et aussi l’attribution du côté gauche, étant inférieure, à la femme tout en gardant l’idée de la totalité de l’espace quand il s’agit de ce couple en colocation.
Chapter
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Research has shown that when persons with normal hearing accompany their speech with gestures, right-handers use more right-hand gestures, and left-handers use more left-hand gestures, although to a lesser extent (D. Kimura, 1973a, 1973b, Neuropsychologia, 11, 45-50, 51-55.). Comparable differences have been found in deaf persons when signing, with the direction of hand dominance for signing in both right- and left-handers corresponding to that for nonlinguistic actions (J. Vaid, D. Schemenauer, U. Bellugi, & H. Poizner, 1984, Hand dominance in a visual-gesture language. Paper presented at BABBLE, March, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada). In this paper, I recount early theories and observational data about hand dominance for gesture and signing, both in the hearing and the deaf. Several of these early theories and observations anticipate current work and also suggest new avenues for investigation.
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Natural speaking is accompanied by greater overt motor activity than occurs in several non-speaking activities. The increase is especially marked for free motions of the hands (“gestures”), and particularly of the right hand. The right-hand activity is related to left-hemisphere control of speech functions, as determined by a dichotic listening task.RésuméL'acte de parler est accompagné par plus d'activité motrice que celle qui survient dans plusieurs activités non verbales. L'augmentation est spécialement nette pour les libres mouvements des mains (gestes) et particulièrement cuex de la main droite. L'activité de la main droite est en rapport avec le contrôle hémisphérique gauche des fonctions du langage tel que l'a déterminé une épreuve d'écoute dichotique.ZusammenfassungDas natürliche Sprechen wird von grosserer Motorik begleitet als dies bei verschiedenen nicht-sprachlichen Aktivitäten der Fall ist. Die Zunahme ist besonders deutlich bei den freien Bewegungen der Hände (“Gesten”) und vorzüglich der rechten Hand. Die rechtshändige Motorik steht in Beziehung zu der linkshemisphärischen Kontrolle der Sprachfunktion, was bestimmt werden kann durch eine dichotische Hörprüfung.
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Arm movements were both videotyped and recorded with potentiometers attached to the arms, during speaking. Flexion-extension and supination-pronation were compared in detail in left and right arms during free movements made bilaterally or with one arm at a time. The right arm was found to make more direction changes per movement than the left arm, but no differences in onset or termination time, or in duration of movement were found. The results are discussed in terms of the nature of left-hemisphere control of left and right arms in proximal free movement.RésuméOn a enregistré sur vidéo et avec des potentiomètres attacheés aux bras les mouvements des bras pendant la parole. La flexion-extension et la supination-pronation étaient comparées en détail au niveau des deux bras durant des mouvements libres exercés bilatéralement ou par un seul bras á la fois. La direction du bras droit était plus souvent modifier pour chaque mouvement que celle du gauche mais il n'existait aucune différence dans les temps de début ou de terminaison, ou de la durée des mouvements. On discute les résultats sur la base du contrôle hémisphérique gauche des deux bras dans les mouvements libres de l'extrémite proximale.ZusammenfassungArmbewegungen wurden auf Videofilm aufgenommen und mit Potentiometern registriert, die an den Armen während des Sprechens befestigt waren. Beugung und Streckung und Supination und Pronation wurden bei links-seitigen und rechtsseitigen Extremitäten während freier Bewegungen, die bilateral oder mit einem Arm in einem gegebenen Zeitpunkt gemacht wurden, genau verglichen. Der rechte Arm unternahm mehr Richtungs-änderungen pro Bewegung als der linke, aber es fanden sich keine Unterschiede im Zeitpunkt des Einsetzens oder der Beendigung oder in der Dauer der Bewegungen. Die Ergebnisse werden in dem Sinne diskutiert, daβ eine linkshemisphärische Kontrolle für den linken und den rechten Arm bei proximalen freien Bewegungen besteht.
Article
G. E. R. Lloyd has argued that Parmenides ‘probably held that the sex of the child is determined by its place on the right or left of the mother's womb (right for males, left for females)’. It is the purpose of this paper to challenge this assertion by re-examining the primary evidence of fragments 17 and 18 of Parmenides as well as the tangled mass of testimony of the doxographers, Censorinus, Aëtius and Lactantius. In so doing I shall consciously observe a sharp distinction between theories of sex differentiation and theories of heredity since I shall argue that the confusion of the two subjects has led to distortion of Parmenides' doctrines.