The availability of new technologies for visualizing brain activity generated great expectations to identify the centers responsible for human action and behavior and to “reduce” all mental processes to neuronal states. Some scientists even called society to adapt to the new insights from brain research by giving up outdated concepts of autonomy and free will. This project spurred harsh critiques from philosophy, sociology, and cultural studies, diagnosing the rise of a new phrenology. A critical neuroscience group took up these criticisms and pledged for a more nuanced reflection about the political, historical and ethical contexts and implications of current neuroscience and argued for an integration of societal concerns into the research agenda – rather similar to the agenda for responsible research of the EU. With the development of more sophisticated visualization strategies, new sub-disciplines emerged, integrating sociocultural aspects into neuroimaging. Social and cultural neuroscience replaced overstated reductionist claims without leaving the overarching naturalist epistemology, but extending the ontological realm. New research objects such as empathy, religion or ‘Western’ vs. ‘East-Asian’ attitudes of thinking started to populate the research domain. Especially cultural neuroscience was widely celebrated as new scientific bridge across the nature-culture gulf. A closer look, however, reveals that this claim and the popular success of cultural neuroscience are based on a decisive lack of conceptual clarity. ‘Culture’ functions as fuzzy denominator for a broad range of social phenomena with unknown links to neurophysiological processes but visualized as brain states. Instead of implementing more reflexive forms of research, cultural neuroscience stabilizes problematic stereotypes and racist attitudes by an expansion of neuro-culture. In light of this deflation of interdisciplinary cooperation a more radical critique of this ideology seems in place.
|Translated title of the contribution||In search of lost culture: From neuroimaging via critical neuroscience to cultural neuroscience - and back to critique|
|Journal||Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte|
|Number of pages||20|
|Publication status||Published - 09.2018|