The Alphabet Versus The Goddess

Leonard Shlain

About the author, from the Preface:  “I am a surgeon. . . .  As a vascular surgeon operating on carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain, I have had the opportunity to observe firsthand the profoundly different functions performed by each of the brain’s hemispheres.  My unique perspective led me to propose a neuroanatomical hypothesis to explain why goddess and priestesses disappeared from Western religions.”

With this beginning, Shlain proposes, as described on the back cover “that the rise of alphabetic literacy—the process of reading and writing—fundamentally reconfigured the human brain, and brought about profound changes in history, religion, and gender relations.  Making remarkable connections across brain function, myth, and anthropology, Leonard Shlain shows why agricultural preliterate cultures were principally informed by holistic, right-bring modes that venerated the Goddess and feminine values and images.  Writing, particularly alphabets, drove cultures toward linear left-brain thinking.  This shift upset the balance between men and women, initiating the decline of the feminine, and also ushered in the reign of patriarch and misogyny.  Examining the cultures of the Israelites, Greeks, Christians, and Muslims, he reinterprets many myths and parables in light of his theory.  Shlain traces the effect of literacy on the Dark Ages, May, Gutenberg, the reformation, and the witch hunts.”