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Catherine Malabou - What Should We Do With Our Brain?

Catherine Malabou - What Should We Do With Our Brain?

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Published by curioushairedgal
neuro plasticity, conscioussness of the brain
neuro plasticity, conscioussness of the brain

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Published by: curioushairedgal on Jan 12, 2013
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03/25/2013

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CATHERINE
MALABOU
WhatShould
We
Do
with
Our
Brain?
Foreword
by
MarcJeannerodTranslated
by
SebastianRand
FORDHAM
U
NJVE.RSlTV
PRESS
New
York
_2008
 
Introduction
Plasticity
and
Flexibility-For
a
CtnlScWumess
of
theBrain
Thebrain
is
awork,and
we
donotknowit.
We
are
irs
subjec,s-aurhorsand
ptodnCisatonee---and
we
donotknowit.
"Human,
maketheitownhistory,burtheydonotknowthatthey
make
it,"
says
Marx,intendingrherebytoawakenaconsciousnessofhistoticiry.
In
acettain
way,
such
WOtds
applypreciselytoourcontextandobject:"Humansmake,heitownbrain,
but
rheydonotknow,hattheymakeit."h
is
notaqnestion
of
effectingatrickyrhetoricalmovebycorruptingthis
fine
phrasefutrhebenefit
of
ouranalysisor
of
accedingtothefaciliry
of
afotmalanalogy.Quiterhecontrary,
,he
bondbetweenbtainandhistory---eonceprslongtakento
be
anti
thetical-
is
nowestablishedwithcenainty.
The
strucruralbondhete
is
so
deep,hatinacertain
sense
itdefinesan
identity.
It's
no'
jus'rhatrhebtain
has
a
his-
tory-which
is
sometimesconfusedwirhtha,
of
irs
constiiUtion
as
an
objeCi
of
rhe
sciences-bur
rhatit
is
ahistory.
I
 
Infact,today
we
cansaythatthere
emts
aconstitutivehistoricity
of
me
brain.
The
aim
of
thisbook
is
preciselytoawakenaconsciousness
of
thishistoricity.]t
is
no
longerimportanttoaskwhetherbrainandconsciousnessareone
and
thesame
thing-let
us
put
asidethisoldandspeciousdebate.Insread
we
mustconstitutethis
mange
ctiticalentity,atoncephilosophical,sci,ntific,
and
political,thatwould
be
a
comdousness
of
t h ~
brain.
It
is
totheconstitution
of
thisnewgenre---open
to
everyone-that
thequestion
What
should
we
do
with
Our
brain?
invites
us.Wehavenotyetassimilatedtheresults
of
thetevolutionarydiscoveriesmadeoverthelastfiftyyearsinneurosciences(that
is
to
say,
thegroup
of
disciplinesthatstudymeanatomy,physiology,andfunctioning
of
thecentralnervoussystem,orCNS'),resultsthatcontributemoreeverydaytomerefutation
of
erroneousyetnonethelessmysreriouslypersistentpictures
we
stW
have
of
thebrain.Alteadyin1979,intheptefacetohisbook
NeuronalMan,
JeanPierreChangeuxdeclaredthatourknowledgeinthefield
of
neuroscienceshadexperiencedanexpansionmatchedonlybythegrowth
of
physicsatthebeginning
of
thecencuryandmolecularbiology
in
the1950s.
The
impact
of
thediscovery
of
the
syn-
apse
and
itsfunctions
is
comparabletothat
of
theatom
or
DNA.Anewworld
is
emerging,andthetimeseemsripe
to
openthis
field
of
knowledgetoawidetpublicthanthespecialistsand,
if
possible,toshareme
researchers'
enthusiasm.
2
But
this
communication,thisopening
tothe
public
at
large,
thismating
of
enthusiasm,nevertookplace.Twenty
five
years
later,theassessmentremainsthesame:
"The
impasse
0
nthetopic
of
thebtainis,with
few
exceptions,
2
Introdllction
total."3Evenifmanythingshavechanged,even
if
theneuroscienceshavebecome"curring-edge"disciplines,even
if
medicalimaginghasmadepalpableprogress,even
if
the
~ ~ c o g n i t i v e
sciences"haveattainedthestatus
of
autonomous
disciplines,'
and
even
if
thenumber
of
articlesaboutthe
CNS
inthemainstreampress
has
multiplied,neuronalmanstillhasnoconsciousness.Inthis
sense,
we
are
stW
foteign
to
ourselves,at,hethteshold
of
this"newwo
rld,"
which
we
fajJ
torealizemakesupourveryintimacyitself."We"have
no
ideawho
~ C w e ] ]
are,
no
ideawhat
is
inside
' ~ u s . ~ ]
Of
course,wehave
all
heardpeopletalkaboutneuron"synapses,connections,neIWorks,differenttypes
of
memory.Everyoneknows
aboutneurodegenerativedisorders,such
as
Alzheimer'sor
Parkinson's.Many
of
us
haveseen,inhospitals,the
output
screen
of
afunctionalneural-imagingmachine.Some
of
us
knowthattodayit
is
possible,thankstonewMRJ
and
PET
rechnologies,S
to
observethebrain
in
vivo,
in
real
time.
Everyone
says
thatpsychoanalysis
is
losingimportance,andeveryonehears'alk,rightorwrong,abouthowtheonly
ef-
fectivecurefornervousdepression
is
,hechemicalkind.We
all
knowaboutMAOIs
Or
SSRJs;6
we
arevaguelyfamiliarwiththewords
serotonin,
noradnnalin,
and
nmrotrammit-
fer,
and
weall
knowaboutmeneuronalorigin
of
tobaccoordrugaddiction.
We
knowthatit
is
nowpossible
to
sucoessfullytransplantahandandthat,hebraincanreconstiruteitsbodilyschematoincludeforeignmembers.
We
haveheardaboutacerrainability
on
thepatt
of
thenervous
sys-
temtotepair,atleastpartially,some
of
thedamage
it
sus
tains.
The
word
resilience
is
norunknownto
us.?
The
problem
is
,hat
we
donot
see
thelinkthatunifies
all
thesephenomena,names,andsituations,whichareherepucposefuUylistedcompletelyatrandom
and
appeattohavenothing
in
commonwithoneanomer.Thislinkexists
Introductio..
3

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