Imagery and the AlphabetwithLeonard Shlain, MD (1937 – 2009)

Books Mentioned In This Interview

This video is a special release from the original Thinking Allowed series that ran on public television from 1986 until 2002. It was recorded in about 1998. 

In ancient times, says Leonard Shlain, human societies universally worshipped the image of a goddess. Sometime about 5,000 years ago a massive shift occurred in which the gender of the diety changed. He presents his hypothesis that this change is related to the introduction of the alphabet and its effects upon the human brain. He notes that in the west, witchhunts and other effects of male-dominant society occurred at a time of rising literacy. He also suggests that the rise of feminism in the twentieth century is correlated with increased use of imagery as a result of film and television.

The late Leonard Shlain, MD, was an associate professor of surgery at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco. He is author of Art and Physics and The Alphabet Versus the Goddess.

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Published on July 15, 2023


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