Bio-Social Methods for a Vitalist Social Science

Bio-Social Methods for a Vitalist Social Science

Bio-Social Methods for a Vitalist Social Science An observer who declares himself to be an anthropologist of science must be a source of particular consternation (Latour and Woolgar, Laboratory Life, 1979, p19)

the new brain sciences share much with more general shifts within contemporary biological and biomedical sciences: at their most sophisticated, they are struggling toward a way of thinking in which our corporeality is in constant transaction with its milieu, and the biological and the social are not distinct but intertwined

(Nikolas Rose, Neuro, 2013, p3) scientific facts exist only within styles of thinking (Ian Hacking, The Social Construction of What? 1999, p60) The affective turnexpresses a new configuration of bodies, technologies

and matter instigating a shift in thought in critical theory (Patricia Clough, The Affective Turn, 2007, p2) The envelope of what we call the political must increasingly expand to take note of the way that political attitudes and statements are partly conditioned by intense autonomic bodily

reactions that do not simply reproduce the trace of a political intention and cannot be wholly recuperated within an ideological regime of truth (Nigel Thrift, Intensities of Feeling: Towards a Spatial Poltiics of Affect, 2004, p58) there is no reason for those from the social and human sciences to fear

reference to the role of the human brain in human affairs, or to regard these new images of the human being, these new ontologies, as fundamentally threatening (Nikolas Rose, Neuro, 2013, p3) [Affect] theorists are gripped by the notion that most philosophers and critics in the past have overvalued the role of reason and

rationality in politics, ethics, and aesthetics, with the result that they have given too flat or unlayered or disembodied an account of the ways in which people actually form their political opinions and judgments. (Ruth Leys, The Turn to Affect: A critique, 2011) many sociologies have little sense of how the social is done or holds together.

They ignore the material practices that generate the social (John Law, Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics 148) Anyone who believes that the laws of physics are mere social conventions is invited to try transgressing those conventions from the windows of my

apartment. I live on the twenty-first floor (Alan Sokal, A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies, 1993) The avalanche of neuroscientific research and its popular presentations are generating a growing belief, among policymakers and in public culture, that human neurobiology sets the conditions

for the lives of humans in societies and shapes human actions in all manner of ways not amenable to consciousness (Nikolas Rose, Neuro, 2013, p226) It is vital that the Civil Service has the skills, expertise and capacity to ensure that government decision-making is supported by high quality evidence. David Halpern has a

proven track record of using evidence and behavioural insights to drive real change across government. I look forward to working with David as we seek to embed What Works thinking across the public sector. (Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary, 2013) Preserving and integrating the forms of expertise and the discourses about human

nature and the human lifeworld that philosophy, anthropology, sociology, history and other humanities disciplines provide, is necessary in the face of neurosciences expansion and unquestioned cultural and institutional capital (Suparna Choudhury and Jan Slaby, Critical Neuroscience, 2012, p3)

If the objects of medicine are enacted in a variety of ways, truthfulness is no longer good enough. Somehow questions need to be asked about the appropriateness of various enactments of the body multiple and its diseases. (Anne Marie Mol, The Body Multiple, 2002, viii) many of today's affect theorists seek

to recast biology in dynamic, energistic, nondeterministic terms that emphasize its unpredictable and potentially emancipatory qualities (Ruth Leys, The Turn to Affect: A critique, 2011) current theories about science do seem to undermine scientific authority, at a time

when scientists want to claim their lost innocence, to be pure, unsullied seekers after truth. That is what the science wars are about (Dorothy Nelkin, What are the science wars really about?, 1996) Social constructionists make clear that official ideologies about objectivity and scientific

method are particularly bad guides to how scientific knowledge is actually made. Just as for the rest of us, what scientists believe or say they do and what they really do have a very loose fit. (Donna Haraway, Situated Knowledges, 1988, p576) I call for the Left to reclaim its

Enlightenment roots. We're worried above all for the social sciences and the humanities, not the natural sciences. (Alan SokalMystery Science Theater, 1996) what should we do with the consciousness of the brain that does

not simply coincide with the spirit of capitalism? (Catherine Malabou, What Should We Do With Our Brain? 2008, p12) When universities are more interested in patent royalties than in the open sharing of scientific information, the public suffers. There are hundreds of important political and economic issues

surrounding science and technology. Sociology of science, at its best, has done much to clarify these issues. But sloppy sociology, like sloppy science, is useless, or even counterproductive (Alan Sokal Mystery Science Theater, 1996) I would like to insist on the embodied nature of all vision and so reclaim the sensory system that has been used to

signify a leap out of the marked body and into a conquering gaze from nowhere (Donna Haraway, Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective, 1988, p581) the goal is to work towards an integrate approach to behaviour that situates the brain and cognition in the

body, the social milieu, and the political world (Suparna Choudhury and Jan Slaby, Critical Neuroscience, 2012, p3) What the new affect theorists and the neuroscientists share is a commitment to the idea that cognition or thinking comes too late for reasons, beliefs, intentions, and meanings to play the

role in action and behavior usually accorded to them. The result is that action and behavior are held to be determined by affective dispositions that are independent of consciousness and the mind's control. (Ruth Leys, The Turn to Affect: A critique, 2011) Its true that certain peopleare not likely to find advice or instructions in my

books to tell them what is to be done. But my project is precisely to bring it about that they no longer know what to do, so that the acts, gestures, discourses that up until then had seemed to go without saying become problematic, difficult, dangerous (Michel Foucault, 1981) Focussing on the brain narrows the

geography of mind from a diverse, interconnected system (a mutuality of moodsobjects-neurotransmitters-hormonescognitions-affects-attachments-tears-glandsimages-words-gut) to a landscape within which the brain, as sovereign, presides over psychological events (Elizabeth Wilson, Neurological Entanglements 2011, p280)

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