December 6, 2013 · 6:00 PM
With the rapid growth of the life sciences, neurosciences and other disciplines trying to understand the human brain, the need for an anthropological perspective on such issues has never been greater. Anthropology’s objects of study are often situated on the borders of nature and culture, biology and society, the body and the mind. Science bears within it the traces of historical truths and moral economies. It is a product of what Allan Young—Professor of Anthropology and the Marjorie Bronfman Professor of Social Studies in Medicine at McGill University–calls ‘epistemic cultures’. Young argues that anthropological work has to do with unveiling the epistemological premises of contemporary science, as well as its normative impact on the way we think about ourselves, our behavior, what’s normal, and what’s not. In this regard, Young made a significant contribution to the anthropological study of psychiatric science through his pioneering book, The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (1995), in which he discusses the invention of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In recent years, his research has centered on social neurosciences, their epistemology and their conception of the brain and of human nature (Young 2011, 2012). [Except from a recent interview by Vincent Duclos. See full interview here: http://somatosphere.net/2013/10/when-anthropology-meets-science-an-interview-with-allan-young.html.
Our meeting will be a follow up to our recent gathering at IRCM to hear professor Young speak about the (Neuro)Science of Evil: how do we go about understanding empathy and cruelty, and how we attempt to pinpoint/reduce it to a certain neural mechanism.
As we ran out of time on Thursday, and Professor Young has kindly accepted my invitation to join us in our Brain-Self-Society circle for a more informal gathering where we will have better opportunities for question/answer.
it is a privilege to have him in our meet up and I highly recommend attending this meeting. Looking forward to seeing you on Friday.