The neurosciences have spawned in only a few decades both a hegemonious neuro-culture and a neural subjectivity (i.e. Fernando Vidal’s “cerebral subject”, Nikolas Rose “neurochemical self”). How we experience ourselves and the world increasingly hinges on neurological rather than psychological and internalistic notions. Within the field of the sciences themselves the prefix “neuro” becomes ubiquitous. Approaches, such as neuroeducation, neuropolitics or neuro-aesthetics, are prone to flood our contemporary life-world.
But what if these swift and sometimes blunt and misplaced expropriations of the neurosciences tell us something essential on the neurosciences themselves, and, in particular, on the wedding of the neuro with the sciences? In other words if there is such a thing as “neurologisation” (spawning a neuro-culture and a neuro-subject) does this then not warrant a closer critical-philosophical scrutiny of the neurological turn in Academia (affecting thoroughly and even revolutionizing the humanities) and how it interacts with processes in culture and subjectivity?
In this respect, the pregnant question is: what are the conditions of (im)possibility of both neurology (as it is inevitably embedded in cultural, political and popular contexts), and the other sciences (seeking to overcome their own terms of impossibility with the supposed firm and neutral neurosciences)?
The urgency of a “critical neuroscience” addressing these questions lies in the fact that the neurological turn risks not just to neglect the dimension of critique, but also to obviate its possibility. Is there still any outside, any beyond, from where a critical approach is viable? Or might it be that the critical potential is to be found within the very neurological itself? The question (and the wager?) of this series is: can this potential be put to work so that it, on its turn, plays a role in the processes of the ‘making up’ (Ian Hacking’s term) of people, society and (neuro)science?
This initiative brings together 6 people who work on the topic of the neurosciences. 6 different approaches: phenomenology (Jan Slaby, Free University Berlin), clinical psychoanalysis and neuropsychoanalysis (Ariane Bazan, UL Bruxelles), cognitive neuropsychology (Aikaterini Fotopoulou, King’s College London) culture and ideology critique (Marc De Kesel, Artevelde Gent/KU Leuven/Radboud Nijmegen), history of philosophy (Howard Caygill, Kingston University, London) and social cognitive neuroscience (Vittorio Gallese, University of Parma). 6 state of the art way-ins to open up the perspective of a critical neuroscience; exploring the ethics, the philosophy, the politics and the policies of this neuro-era.