The expectations on brain research have never been greater. The EU and the US gigantic multi-billion projects are only a part of a movement which has made Professor Patrick Aebischer at EPFL and others term the epoch that we now are living in the Century of Brain. The expectation on the result of this movement for more knowledge about how the brain is working is multidimensional. Christer Johansson, Professor of History of Ideas at Umeå University, writes the following:
”Ancient philosophical and existential questions is expected to finally get an answer, complicated medicine problem will be solved, global drug-markets evolve and in the next step it is indicated a possibility of a totally new society, all this would be based on the findings of the neuroscience.”
Neuroscience and its critics
In the spirit of this neuroscience movement a neuroculture has progressed where the prefix neuro is used in the most shifting contexts like neuroethics, neurophilosophy and neuropedagogy. The mentioned area could be seen as a reaction on the policies that has governed the school which too a large extent is built on old traditions instead of science.
However, a neuro-critical literature with a growing amount of titles is beginning to gain ground. It is based on the hype around neuroscience and especially its sub-parts. The focus is on the risk that it will reduce values, feelings and behaviour to exclusive activities in the brain. Additionally the experiments that are carried out in labs, the critics claim, can not be directly transformed to the real world. As well as that this brain-based view of humanity, maybe this is the main line of critics, is too individualistic and that the human thereby is not seen in a social context. Again the historian Christer Johansson writes according to that the neuroscience view of humanity according to the critics leads to a disloyal society that does not take care of its citizens: ”If it goes bad for you, do not blame the environment, blame the brain. If you not feeling good, buy psycho-pharmacy, not counseling.”
Ideologically based critics
This is basically an ideologically-based critic that has very little to do with science. Partly it is a part of the philosophical discussion about if the human exist for the society or if the societal institutions exist for the individual. In the first case individual differences is not relevant while in the other the neuroscience is crucial to research individual differences. And for instance try to cure the differences that concerns diseases, so that everybody, not only the ones that fit the mould has the possibility to live a decent life.
Written by LarsGöran Boström©
Neurovetenskap som frälsare och hjärnspöke Svenska Dagbladet den 10 juni 2011 http://www.svd.se/kultur/understrecket/neurovetenskap-som-fralsare-och-hjarnspoke_6306380.svd