The aim of this article is (1) to investigate the ‘neurosciences’ as an object of study for historical and genealogical approaches and (2) to characterize what we identify as a particular ‘style of thought’ that consolidated with the birth of this new thought community and that we term the ‘neuromolecular gaze’. This article argues that while there is a long history of research on the brain, the neurosciences formed in the 1960s, in a socio-historical context characterized by political change, faith (...) in scientific and technological progress, and the rise of a molecular gaze in the life sciences. They flourished in part because these epistemological and technological developments were accompanied by multiple projects of institution-building. An array of stakeholders was mobilized around the belief that breakthroughs in understanding the brain were not only crucial, they were possible by means of collaborative efforts, cross-disciplinary approaches and the use of a predominantly reductionist neuromolecular method. The first part of the article considers some of the different approaches that have been adopted to writing the history of the brain sciences. After a brief outline of our own approach, the second part of the article uses this in a preliminary exploration of the birth of the neurosciences in three contexts. We conclude by arguing that the 1960s constitute an important ‘break’ in the long path of the history of the brain sciences that needs further analysis. We believe this epistemological shift we term the ‘neuromolecular gaze’ will shape the future intellectual development and social role of the neurosciences. (shrink)
Max Weber and Ernst Toller are regarded as political opposites with the former viewed as the responsible realist and the latter as an ethical idealist. I argue that this contrast between the two is not as great as is customarily thought.
Legitimating the use of metaphysics in scientific research constituted a farreaching methodological revolution, invalidating the inductivist demands that science be guided by empirical information alone. Thus, science became tentative. The revolution was established when pioneering historians of science, Max Jammer among them, exhibited the working of metaphysics in scientific research. This raises many problems, since most metaphysical ideas are poor as compared with scientific ones. Yet taking science to be the effort to explain facts in a comprehensive manner, makes some (...) metaphysics unavoidable, and presents the better metaphysics as the possible frameworks within which older scientific theories may be reinterpreted and improved and newer ones may be developed. (shrink)
This article argues against Catton and Dunlap’s claims that the natural environment has been ignored or downplayed in American sociology before the emergence of environmental sociology in the 1970s. By reviewing a collection of 86 sociology textbooks between 1894 and 1980, the article provides quantitative evidence regarding the scope and types of references to the natural environment in mainstream sociology. The bulk of the article is based on an interpretive-historical analysis of the different representations of the environment in the textbook (...) literature. This analysis is carried out from the perspective of the sociology of knowledge, whereby sociological ideas about nature are interpreted in terms of their intellectual milieu and social context. The main finding is that the ‘natural environment’ has been interpreted in different ways and has been put to a variety of epistemological and ideological uses — particularly positivism and functionalism — throughout the history of the discipline. (shrink)
Exploring the apparent tension between Foucault’s analyses of technologies of domination – the ways in which the subject is constituted by power–knowledge relations – and of technologies of the self – the ways in which individuals constitute themselves through practices of freedom – this article endeavors to makes two points: first, the interpretive claim that Foucault’s own attempts to analyse both aspects of the politics of our selves are neither contradictory nor incoherent; and, second, the constructive claim that Foucault’s analysis (...) of the politics of our selves, though not entirely satisfactory as it stands, provides important resources for the project of critical social theory. (shrink)
The conventional interpretation of Adam Smith is that he is a prophet of commercialism. The liberal capitalist reading of Smith is consistent with the view that history culminates in commercial society. The first part of the article develops this optimistic interpretation of Smith's view of history. Smith implies that commercial society is the end of history because (1) it supplies the ends of nature that he identifies; (2) it is inevitable; and (3) it is permanent. The second part of the (...) article shows that Smith has some dark moments in his writings where he seems to reject completely such teleological notions. In this more civic humanist mood he confesses that commercial society does not supply the ends of nature, nor is it inevitable, nor is it permanent. Both views exist in Smith and the commentator is forced to choose between passages in Smith's work in order to support a particular interpretation of the former's view of history. (shrink)
During the post-Second World War period, Adam Smith’s moral theory was down-played and he acquired the undeserved reputation of an amoral, radical individualist. The trend in recent scholarship has been to rehabilitate him as a moral theorist and this article continues that trend. After a sketch of Smith’s moral theory, the article addresses his little-studied views on moral education. This education is important in the creation of human excellence and social stability. Smith offers a series of recommendations about the moral (...) education of the young. For him, liberal society needs moral education: some of it is to be provided privately and some is to be provided by the public. (shrink)
This article explores the extent to which Heidegger promises a novel understanding of the concept of time. Heidegger believes that the tradition of philosophy was mistaken in interpreting time as a moveable image of eternity. We are told that this definition of time is intelligible only if we have eternity as a point of departure to understand the meaning of time. Yet, Heidegger believes that we are barred from such a viewpoint. We can only understand the phenomenon of time from (...) our mortal or finite vantage point. Contrary to the tradition of philosophy, Heidegger argues that time does not find its meaning in eternity, time finds its meaning in death. The article takes Heidegger's position to task. It argues that it is not evident why Heidegger's account of time should in any way be superior to the traditional conception of time. Drawing on the criticism raised by Lévinas and Blanchot, that death — like eternity — is never at our disposal to understand the phenomenon of time, it shows that although Heidegger is aware that death is never an event in our life, he nonetheless claims that it is the awareness of our finitude that informs our understanding of time. Yet if Heidegger does not see it as a problem that death is never at our disposal, then it becomes questionable whether Heidegger's initial critique launched against the tradition of philosophy still holds, because it is no longer evident why it matters that eternity, as a point of departure, is never at our disposal to understand the phenomenon of time. (shrink)
In this article, cognitivism is understood as the view that the engine of human (individual and collective) action is the intentional, dispositional, or other mental capacities of the brain or the mind. Cognitivism has been criticized for considering the essence of human action to reside in its alleged source in mental processes at the expense of the social surroundings of the action, criticism that has often been inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein's later philosophy. This article explores the logical extent of the (...) critique of cognitivism, arguing that by positing collectively shared knowledge of criteria as the engine of human action many such critiques themselves display latent cognitivism. (shrink)
This text represents an exploration of the possible significance of Bernard S. Cohn's 1980 essay, `History and Anthropology: The State of Play', for understanding the present of historical anthropology and its futures. My discussion has two aims: (1) to reflect on both Bernard S. Cohn's pedagogy and mode of inquiry; and (2) to explore the complexity and nuance of citationality as a generative principle within the constitution of historical anthropology's subject. Toward this, I examine Cohn's notion of `the colonial situation' (...) and reflect on how the emergence of the human sciences is intertwined with the proliferation of colonialism's enduring legacy within postcoloniality. (shrink)
This article concerns the emergence of psychological constructs of personal power and control in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s and the ways in which they contributed to contemporary political explanations of social unrest. While social scientists and politicians at the time saw this unrest as a social problem that posed threats to social cohesion and stability, they located its cause not in the power structure of society but in the individual’s sense of his or her own powerlessness. (...) The article discusses ‘locus of control’ as the central construct in new psychological explanations of powerlessness which drew on personality theory and behavioural psychology. The first half of the article traces the rise of the self-managing subject in behavioural psychology, identifying a key shift in conceptual, strategic and technical emphases, away from using behavioural approaches to modify the behaviour of others and towards developing ways of enabling people to manage their own behaviour. In the second half it examines the ways in which locus of control and related constructs were used to account for the educational under-achievement and political militancy of poor, black people in the United States. These explanations implicated individual helplessness and a sense of powerlessness in black people as a major social problem in the USA during this period: as a threat not only to personal development but, in particular, to social stability. In the process of this analysis I aim to demonstrate that the deployment of these constructs did more than reformulate old social problems in new ways; it enabled new social problems to be identified for which these constructs could offer explanations and solutions which both appealed to political authorities and helped to shape their conceptions of the ‘problem’. (shrink)
This article considers the concept of the utopia from the point of view of garden design. It begins with an evocation of the `Jardin de Julie', the literary garden described in Rousseau and acutely analysed by Louis Marin. It then passes to a series of actual gardens created by the French contemporary designer Bernard Lassus, in which the use of landscape effects is seen as achieving similar dislocations of space and incitements to the imagination.