Monday, January 30, 2017

Critiquing the neuro-turn

Roger Cooter has an article on why the neuro-turn in popular and academic culture needs to be taken seriously. I tend to regard it as 'neo-phrenological phantasy' (eg. see  previous post), but Roger cautions against being "so lightly dismissive". The neuro-turn may be affecting how we view ourselves. Furthermore, it seems to be beyond criticism, or, as Roger puts it, "the neuro-turn stymies ... its own critique".

As an example, another recent paper I have read is about One hundred years of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. Whilst discussing the heritage of Adolf Meyer and Paul McHugh for current american psychiatry, it suggests that, "One happy byproduct of current research is that ... the competitive jousting between the 'biological' and psychological' ...[has] dissipated". It goes on:-
It has proven difficult to maintain such debates when research now shows the human brain responding robustly to all manner of psychological, pharmacological, and stimulatory interventions.
So, I've been wasting my time trying to encourage this debate! Studies that literally 'light up the brain' have shut down the argument.

Roger describes the attractions of an ahistorical, posthumanist worldview, which may help to mediate neoliberal politics. At least he concludes that critique is even more "vital and urgent". So, maybe I need to keep going.

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