Cognition is not limited to the isolated (= dumbed down) brain

Very interesting Conference on “General Organology”, taking off from Bernard Stiegler’s work: Date: 20-21-22 November 2014, Location: University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.

Under the rubric Neuroscience and Cognition is a text written by me that has some relevance to my recent discussion with R.Scott Bakker:

General organology discusses the brain in its imbrication with social and technological organs. The brain is the privileged object of study and experimentation, and of possible manipulation, by the fast-advancing neurosciences. It is also the subject of new experiences and new forms of expression and action in its encounter with the new digital technologies, capable of extending our capacities for surveillance and control. A new form of power, neuropower, may extend, reinforce, and multiply the processes of de-individuation set in motion by the increasing exploitation of our drives by the capitalist machine (as exemplified in the rise of “neuromarketing”). However, the passage from the “reading brain” (Maryanne Wolf) to the “digital brain” (Bernard Stiegler) coupled with the continuing progress of the neurosciences open up the possibility of human “enhancement” as one mode of pursuing our psychic and collective individuation. The unprecedented technological possibilities of enhancement and/or control acting at the level of the central nervous system crystallize the urgency of the ethico-political questions that must be posed by such an organological reflection: How can we comprehend and evaluate the proposed supplementations and modifications to our constituted functioning? Who will benefit from such cognitive and behavioral adjustments? How can we make use of these techniques to further both individual autonomy and social justice? (I thank Anais Nony for helpful conversations leading to the formulation of this paragraph).

Commentary: I think Bakker’s perspective is incompatible with any idea of the enhancement of cognition, as for him all cognition is “incompetent” as apprehension and theorization of reality. This comes from his model of cognition centered on the individual brain, forgetting all technical inscription and equipment and all collective rectification. True I may misremember the colour of my tie at my birthday last year, but I can perhaps look at a photo or ask my wife.

All science, remarks Bruno Latour, is “equipped and rectified”, which contributes to its efficacity as cognition. The individual biologist in a cognitive scientist’s artificial lab experiment may misidentify the causes of a blionking light, but the very same day he may discover a cure for the cognitive scientists leukemia. Whose cognition trumps whose non-cognition? Claims that “all cognition is theoretically incompetent” are based on the lack of imagination of the claim-maker.

 

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6 Responses to Cognition is not limited to the isolated (= dumbed down) brain

  1. rsbakker says:

    “I think Bakker’s perspective is incompatible with any idea of the enhancement of cognition, as for him all cognition is “incompetent” as apprehension and theorization of reality. This comes from his model of cognition centered on the individual brain, forgetting all technical inscription and equipment and all collective rectification.”

    Hmm. Obviously you’ve missed all the material on what BBT means for the posthuman: http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/2006/

    You can’t disagree with something you don’t understand. By this point it’s becoming clear that you *need* to discredit the theory, that this has more to do with saving face than anything substantial. I would actually welcome this, if you would actually engage the theory, as opposed to applying ‘BBT’ to these caricatures you keep offering up. For people alienated by the ‘sound’ of the theory, I’m sure this kind of disinformation is quite effective. But it does you no favours whatsoever, Terence.

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  2. terenceblake says:

    The fact is you solicited me, see here. I do not need to discredit a theory that holds no interest for me.

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  3. terenceblake says:

    There is the crux: “Why all the posts?” This is something that you cannot “pretend” away, it is there for all to see. I have responded to you at length, at your request. So forget all the rhetorical questions, forget all the insinuations and the browbeating, reply to my posts. I do not think you are capable of replying, because you do not even understand the simplest of my arguments. Unlike you I am a very pedagogical guy. So the problem is not on my side.

    Cut the bloat. Your blog posts are horrible to read. All the rhetorical questions and the theatrical gasping, that’s not philosophy, that’s not at the level of the debate.

    You asked me to cut the personal aspersions, and I did. You asked me to cut the allusions to your particular position and I did. I dedramatised and I generalised. Are you capable of doing the same thing?

    I have respected your every demand, and still you are not content, because not only do I disagree, but I find your ideas theatrically expounded, narrow-minded, scientistic, self-contradicting clichés. You already knew I thought this, despite my diplomatic formulations from our earlier discussions, it was very clear. So why did you come to me?

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