With Robin Zebrowski, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
The divide between the sciences and the humanities has not been significantly reduced even in spite of convincing arguments that the unified knowledge of the two disciplines would be beneficial. Both neuroscience and cultural studies can be said to be engaged in the task of studying humanity, but they proceed from very different levels of analysis. Neuroscience examines one of the most fundamental levels of our physiology, telling us literally how we operate. Many fields within the humanities examine the artifacts or products of human cultures, giving an analysis of humanity at a level many times removed from direct physiology. This paper examines the phenomenon of neural plasticity, wherein our brains are shown to be highly elastic and not the rigid, standard, genetically-determined structures they were once believed to be. I then compare this phenomenon to the notions of hybridity and the cyborg in which several fields in the humanities have engaged. These are very different fields, and yet both tell us something significant about who we are. Both fields are engaged in the same pursuit – but from different perspectives, with different arguments, and different ways of examining the evidence. Taken together, these two perspectives become more powerful than either alone. Neither remains merely a description of some isolated phenomena in a single discipline, but instead they both combine to offer a robust picture of who we are on a physical, biological level and how that biological description is confirmed and observed when the experimental body is returned to the living culture.
Hot buffet lunch will be available for $3.00 beginning at 12:00 noon. To assure a proper count, please RSVP to Csilla Macsari by Tuesday, September 14 (email: macsaric, or call extension 2263).
This event is open to Beloit College faculty and staff only.