Tag Archives: Fernando Vidal

Somatosphere’s Book Forum – Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject

AHP readers may be interested in Somatospere’s recent book forum discussion of Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega’s Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject (discussed previously on AHP here).  The discussion includes the following contributions:

Genealogy of the Cerebral Subject
Elizabeth Lunbeck
Harvard University

All of the Other Brains
Chloe Silverman
Drexel University

Historicizing the Brain
Martyn Pickersgill
University of Edinburgh

Knowledge about the Brain and Societal Interests
Frank W. Stahnisch
University of Calgary

A Reply:
The Neuro: Modernity, Community, and Critique
Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega

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Antievolutionism & American Social Scientists

AHP readers may be interested in an article in the most recent issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society. In “Abandoning Evolution: The Forgotten History of Antievolution Activism and the Transformation of American Social Science,” Michael Lienesch (left) describes the interaction of antievolution activists and social scientists in the first half of the twentieth century. The abstract follows below.

From its inception, antievolution activism has been aimed not only at the natural sciences but also, and almost as often, at the social sciences. Although almost entirely overlooked by scholars, this activism played a significant part in the development of American social science in the early twentieth century. Analyzing public writings and private papers of antievolution activists, academic social scientists, and university officials from the 1920s, this essay recalls this forgotten history, showing how antievolution activism contributed to the abandonment of evolutionary theory and the adoption of a set of secular, scientific, and professional characteristics that have come to define much of modern social science.

Also reviewed in this issue of Isis are the English translation of Fernando Vidal’s The Sciences of the Soul: The Early Modern Origins of Psychology (reviewed by John H. Zammito), the Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective edited by Douglas A. Vakoch (reviewed by Jordan Bimm), and Laura Stark’s Behind Closed Doors: IRBs and the Making of Ethical Research (reviewed by Susan M. Reverby).

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The Idea of Censorship in Freud’s Psychoanalysis

The June 2012 issue of the British Journal for the History of Science is now online. A special issue on the topic of scientific secrecy, the issue includes a piece on Sigmund Freud that may be of interest to AHP readers. In “Blacked-Out Spaces: Freud, Censorship and the Re-Territorialization of Mind,” historian of science Peter Galison discusses the idea of censorship within Freud’s work. The abstract reads,

Freud’s analogies were legion: hydraulic pipes, military recruitment, magic writing pads. These and some three hundred others took features of the mind and bound them to far-off scenes – the id only very partially resembles an uncontrollable horse, as Freud took pains to note. But there was one relation between psychic and public act that Freud did not delimit in this way: censorship, the process that checked memories and dreams on their way to the conscious. (Freud dubbed the relation between internal and external censorship a ‘parallel’ rather than a limited analogy.) At first, Freud likened this suppression to the blacking out of texts at the Russian frontier. During the First World War, he suffered, and spoke of suffering under, Viennese postal and newspaper censorship – Freud was forced to leave his envelopes unsealed, and to recode or delete content. Over and over, he registered the power of both internal and public censorship in shared form: distortion, anticipatory deletion, softenings, even revision to hide suppression. Political censorship left its mark as the conflict reshaped his view of the psyche into a society on a war footing, with homunculus-like border guards sifting messages as they made their way – or did not – across a topography of mind.

Also included within this issue is a review of Fernando Vidal‘s interesting recent history of psychology, The Science of the Soul: The Early Modern Origins of Psychology.

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New Hist. Psych. Discipl. Talks: Vidal & Mülberger

As discussed previously on AHP (here, here, here, and here) the British Psychological Society’s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has organized an ongoing seminar series. The latest additions to the series’s lineup include upcoming talks by Fernando Vidal (right) and Annette Mülberger. On May 17th, Vidal will be speaking on “The Brains of Cinema and the Brains of Science” and on June 6th Mülberger will be speaking on “The Dangerous Path of Practical Psychometry.” Full details, including abstracts, follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, Room 544,* 5th Floor, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ (map)

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Thursday 17th May

Speaker: Dr. Fernando Vidal, (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)

Seminar title:“The Brains of Cinema and the Brains of Science”

Abstract: Cinema has been one of the major cultural spaces for elaborating and staging the belief that the brain is the only organ we need in order to be ourselves – in other words, the notion that the human being is essentially a “cerebral subject.” Since its earliest appearance in the 1930s, filmic embodiments of the cerebral subject have often incorporated scientific information. However, once assimilated into film, this information takes on a new life, and becomes part of specifically cinematographic representations and traditions. The assessment of filmic contents against their scientific accuracy dilutes the significance of cinema as a site where science-related challenges materialize under original forms.

Wednesday 6th June

Speaker: Professor Annette Mülberger, (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Seminar title: “The Dangerous Path of Practical Psychometry” Continue reading New Hist. Psych. Discipl. Talks: Vidal & Mülberger

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