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Half-Brain Fables and Figs in Paradise: The 3D Mind, Volume 1

In his three-book exploration of signs and synapse, Jacques Chevalier explores the links between brain science, studies of symbolism, and debates in ancient, modern, and postmodern philosophy to shed light on how brain and signs in language actually interface. In The 3D Mind the author pursues this dialogue across disciplines through an elegantly simple plan that mirrors the three-dimensional structure of the brain, proceeding from the saggital (right-left) to the axial (top-down) and the coronal (front-rear) dimensions of neuropsychology. rnrnHalf-Brain Fables and Figs in Paradise starts the trilogy on the lateral plane and explores the tendency of each hemisphere to specialize but also to complement or supplement the other hemisphere. Brain and sign processing is thus shown to involve bimodal weavings or reticles of right-hemispheric similarities and left-hemispheric differences. Chevalier goes on to illustrate how whole-brain connectivity generates the crisscrossings of oppositions and metaphors in language, using symbolically rich material ranging from Western naming practices to expressions of ethnobotany in the bible (figs in Genesis), poetry (Longfellow’s Evangeline), and native Mexican mythology. Three major philosophical implications follow from Chevalier’s “theoreticle” perspective on the weavings of signs and synapse. First, the integrative concept of “nervous sign processing” should be substituted for models of the brain and the intellect that separate biology from mental and cultural activity. The subject matter of “semiosis” is both physical and communicational. Second, sign reticles are orderly and chaotic at the same time. They are subject to patterns of convergence but also to lines of divergence that defy simple modeling, whether analytical or dialectical. Third, sign events are governed by the principle of conferencing, not referencing. They do not refer to things or thoughts signified through representational means. Rather they confer meaning through “signaptic” conversations, reticles of fine lines evolving in language and in neural cells alike.

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