Leonard Shlain: Imagery and the Alphabet (excerpt) — A Thinking Allowed DVD w/ Jeffrey Mishlove

NOTE: This is an excerpt from the two-part, 60-minute DVD.

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 sex 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.

Leonard Shlain is 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.

Published on August 31, 2010