[-empyre-] neuroaesthetics and modeling

Lucette Cysique lcysique at stvincents.com.au
Mon Sep 29 20:07:07 EST 2008

I have been busy working on my science!
Testing a model that did not work... ;)

So, after consulting some other scientists, we define another model..
This model is informed by both the aim of clinical neuropsychology and their
application to statistics.
I guess what is important is that the scientific data could not be forced into a
model and needed revisions. I guess like Khun describes it a bit. But he forget to
much of the socio-political context for me...

I think the idea of model is crucial
My impression is that behind any model there is a political agenda and this is
not something negative per se.
What is problematic for me is that many scientists using these models are more or
less aware of it.

I like to think that one of the role of artists and philosophers is to remain
critical of these models. I believe the no-model approach is also a model (if i
understand well and may be referred to what is called data-driven approach in
science more and more commonly used in neurosciences).

I would tend to agree with Steve Kurtz, that science-art collaboration should be
based on a political project. I use political in its "noble" meaning, close to
philosophical and progressive. I think alliances happened anyway, but more
progressive alliance have to happen. I think science is inclusive of many
conservative assumptions that need to be challenged. I believe it is important so
that the funding of sciences goes also to more progressive political/scientific

While some cognitivist works can be interpreted in a right-wing political
framework, I think the alternative to brain modularity (it is how I understand
your use of cognitivism) which is distributed networks, connectionnism,
distribution of cognitive functions rather than strict localization.. etc.. in
fact borrows a lot from the current socio-economic context of neo-liberalism.
Behind are chaotic mathematics, which have now been used as models in fields as
different as meteorology, finance, genetic, physics and of course neuroscience. I
find that in some ways, these mathematical framework which is now omnipresent has
some kind of inescapable determinism in that the crises are to be expected but
cannot be predicted accurately (I borrow from my discussion with Melinda Cooper
"life as Surplus" and recently John Sutton which I was very happy to meet). The
meaning emerges from the complexity of relations and can grow in many
impredictible ways. This kind of reasoning is convenient for a neo-liberal agenda
of non-interventionism... I believe it is capitalism reinforcing its logic in a
loop. And eventually for scientists and especially for clinical scientists in
particular, it lacks of explanatory power.

As much as it is a scientific advance to conceive brain functioning as
distributed, it reaches its own limitations already. I think these models forget
the question of power. In neurosciences it may be conceptualized as some
constraints on the neurocognitive processes (the spectrum of color that we can
actually see as human; certain brain structural invariance between humans), but
more complexly the current socio-cultural context and how it marks interactively
our brains (for example, gender difference in brain functioning). For what is
question of social functioning, the very common error of scientists (whether
modular or not) is to believe that because something is seen as "belonging" to the
brain, the biology, then it must be innate or hard-wired. However, it seems that
what is learned can become hard-wired...

What is hard to explain is when, how and if "power"/constraints come into play
and then when, how, this may interact with what is called functions


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