Neuroscience and critique. Exploring the limits of the neurological turn
Recent years have seen a rapid growth in neuroscientific research, and an expansion beyond basic research to incorporate elements of the arts, humanities and social sciences. It has been suggested that the neurosciences will bring about major transformations in the understanding of ourselves, our culture and our society. In academia one finds debates within psychology, philosophy and literature about the implications of developments within the neurosciences, and the emerging fields of educational neuroscience, neuro-economics, and neuro-aesthetics also bear witness to a ‘neurological turn’ which is currently taking place.
Neuroscience and Critique is a ground-breaking edited collection which reflects on the impact of neuroscience in contemporary social science and the humanities. It is the first book to consider possibilities for a critique of the theories, practices, and implications of contemporary neuroscience. Bringing together leading scholars from several disciplines, the contributors draw upon a range of perspectives, including cognitive neuroscience, critical philosophy, psychoanalysis, and feminism, and also critically examine several key ideas in contemporary neuroscience.
With contributions of: Marc De Kesel, Jan De Vos, Nima Bassiri, Peter Reynaert, Jessica Pykett, Cynthia Kraus, Philipp Haueis and Jan Slaby, Adrian Johnston, Ariane Bazan, Vittorio Gallese, Mark Solms and Joseph Dumit
'De Vos and Pluth deliver what is really needed today: a critique of neuroscientific reason in the strict Kantian sense. They avoid the twin trap of either succumbing to the fascination with brain sciences or their desperate humanist rejection. Instead, they ask the truly relevant questions about the exact status of neurosciences, as well as about their epistemological, ethical and political implications. It’s a book for those who still dare to think!'
Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
'The contributors to Neuroscience and Critique bring cutting-edge theoretical concepts and debates to bear on the claim that research in neurology can finally explain the formation and operation of our subjectivity. The ‘limits’ of the neuro-turn turn out to be intrinsic to our nature as human subjects, a nature that neuroscience caricatures as it attempts to capture it. This book intensifies the terms of critique so that we are able to see how we might escape neuro-reductionism while embracing the indeterminate and ethical choices that real ‘critique’ requires'.
Ian Parker, Psychoanalyst in Manchester and Professor of Management, University of Leicester, UK
Several of the writings engage actively with psychoanalysis (Lacanian, primarily), feminism, queer theory, and Marxism, and the decided majority of the essays’ authors are from Europe, not the United States. I say this to entice, not to scare off, those interested; and to ensure them they will find Neuroscience and Critique likely to be one of the most stimulating and thought-provoking books they will have read in recent years. (...)
A concluding chapter, written by an anthropologist who has studied the culture of science, medicine, technology, and neuroscience, notes that the chapters in Neuroscience and Critique often contradict each other, and open more questions than they answer, and that the editors make no particular effort to synthesize the various contributions. In a different context and a more cynical voice, such a conclusion could turn a potential reader away. I found, instead, that—although I struggled to digest the profusion of rich, often unfamiliar, and frequently unexpected ideas in Neuroscience and Critique—this concluding appraisal underscored the value of the effort it took me, and will likely take other readers from more clinical backgrounds, to engage the volume under review.
Richard Ruth, excerpt from "Thinking About Psychology and the 'Neuro-Turn'. A Review of Neuroscience and Critique: Exploring the Limits of the Neurological Turn" published in: PsycCRITIQUES - July 11, 2016, Vol. 61, No. 28, Article 9
Neuroscience and Critique appears in an established genre – but it has significant virtues of its own. Central among these is the sheer breadth of its scholarship: this is a properly interdisciplinary collection, featuring not only philosophers with interests in critical theory and/or psychoanalysis, but also a geographer, an anthropologist and STS scholar, a neuroscientist, and a psychologist, among others. What holds this disparate collection of interests together is a commitment to not only some kind of critical engagement with neuroscience – but also a shared attention to what, precisely, critique can do, even to what critique might be, as it gets more widely entangled in neuro-sciences and neuro-cultures. (...) Neuroscience and Critique made me think hard (harder than I am used to) about the potent range of practices that we might arrange under the sign of ‘critique,’ as well as the very different inheritances and stakes of those practices.
Des Fitzgerald's review for The History of the Human Sciences: http://www.histhum.com/?p=195