[-empyre-] neuroaesthetics and modeling

sdv at krokodile.co.uk sdv at krokodile.co.uk
Tue Sep 30 19:21:12 EST 2008


Given that we are currently living through a major paradigm shift which 
has already ended the dominance of the group of discourses we usually 
name as "neo-liberal ". I think that it might be time to readdress the 
assumptions in the below paragraph - most obviously the the idea that 
neo-liberalism is "non-interventionist" for it wasn't, and was never 
intended to be "non-interventionist". Rather neo-liberalism, whether in 
the European form or the anarcho-liberal American form was always about 
a general formalization of the powers of the state and the organization 
of society on the basis of the market economy and the extension of the 
market economy into all aspects of human society and even into the human 
subject. Which is a rather different thing than what is implied below.  
If this current crisis does finally announce the end of neo-liberalism, 
which seems obvious, then the question of whether the network society, 
the distributed model can survive will become extremely interesting over 
the next few years. Can they survive in a more state-interventionist 
period ? A period when the the general critique of the state which 
identifies its destructive and harmful effects stops....

So then - what else disappears with the end of the dominant discourses 
of neo-liberalism ? Certainly the market based understandings of human 
society (for example Becker and Bourdiou), but also those 
psuedo-scientific discourses that reflect this...

I only raise this to point out how the below does not reflect the 
present but a yesterday that has passed.


Lucette Cysique wrote:
> 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
> distributivity.
> Lucette
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