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History and Neuroscience: An Integrative Legacy

Stephen T. Casper
Isis
Vol. 105, No. 1 (March 2014), pp. 123-132
DOI: 10.1086/675554
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/675554
Page Count: 10
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History and Neuroscience: An Integrative Legacy
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Abstract

ABSTRACTThe attitudes that characterize the contemporary “neuro-turn” were strikingly commonplace as part of the self-fashioning of social identity in the biographies and personal papers of past neurologists and neuroscientists. Indeed, one fundamental connection between nineteenth- and twentieth-century neurology and contemporary neuroscience appears to be the value that workers in both domains attach to the idea of integration, a vision of neural science and medicine that connected reductionist science to broader inquiries about the mind, brain, and human nature and in so doing supposedly resolved once and for all questions germane to the human sciences, humanities, and arts. How those attitudes were produced and reproduced first in neurology and then in neuroscience; in what way they were constructed and disciplined, thereby eventuating in the contested sciences and medicines of the mind, brain, and nervous system; and even how they garnered ever-wider contemporary purchase in cultures and societies are thus fascinating problems for historians of science and medicine. Such problems shed light on ethics, practices, controversies, and the uneasy social relations within those scientific and medical domains. But more to the point of this essay: they also account for the apparent epistemological weight now accorded “the neuro” in our contemporary moment. They thus illuminate in a rather different way why historians have suddenly discovered the value of “the neuro.”