Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience

Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience

by Adrian Johnston, Catherine Malabou
     
 

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Adrian Johnston and Catherine Malabou defy theoretical humanities’ deeply-entrenched resistance to engagements with the life sciences. Rather than treat biology and its branches as hopelessly reductive and politically suspect, they view recent advances in neurobiology and its adjacent scientific fields as providing crucial catalysts to a radical rethinking of… See more details below

Overview

Adrian Johnston and Catherine Malabou defy theoretical humanities’ deeply-entrenched resistance to engagements with the life sciences. Rather than treat biology and its branches as hopelessly reductive and politically suspect, they view recent advances in neurobiology and its adjacent scientific fields as providing crucial catalysts to a radical rethinking of subjectivity.

Merging three distinct disciplines—European philosophy from Descartes to the present, Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis, and affective neuroscience—Johnston and Malabou triangulate the emotional life of affective subjects as conceptualized in philosophy and psychoanalysis with neuroscience. Their experiments yield different outcomes. Johnston finds psychoanalysis and neurobiology have the potential to enrich each other, though affective neuroscience demands a reconsideration of whether affects can be unconscious. Investigating this vexed issue has profound implications for theoretical and practical analysis, as well as philosophical understandings of the emotions.

Malabou believes scientific explorations of the brain seriously problematize established notions of affective subjectivity in Continental philosophy and Freudian-Lacanian analysis. She confronts philosophy and psychoanalysis with something neither field has seriously considered: the concept of wonder and the cold, disturbing visage of those who have been affected by disease or injury, such that they are no longer affected emotionally. At stake in this exchange are some of philosophy’s most important claims concerning the relationship between the subjective mind and the objective body, the structures and dynamics of the unconscious dimensions of mental life, the role emotion plays in making us human, and the functional differences between philosophy and science.

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Editorial Reviews

Tracy McNulty

Self and Emotional Life is a timely and wholly original intervention into one of the most debated questions of recent years: the place of the affects in psychoanalytic, neuroscientific, and philosophical accounts of the subject. It is doubly valuable in being authored by two scholars of the stature of Adrian Johnston and Catherine Malabou, philosophers whose range and depth of erudition in recent and emerging scholarship in the neurosciences (especially work on the 'emotional brain') and in clinical psychoanalysis seem to be without peer among scholars working at this intersection today.

Slavoj Žižek
While neuroscientists joyfully proclaim the death of philosophy and psychoanalysis, Self and Emotional Life enacts the necessary countermove. It conclusively demonstrates, from a strict materialist standpoint, how brain sciences cannot account for the unconscious processes discovered by Freud and how they remain entangled in a cobweb of their own philosophical presuppositions. The book's subtitle could have been 'prolegomena to any future relationship between philosophy, psychoanalysis, and neurosciences'—which is why it should be read by everyone in these fields.

Antonio Damasio

I have often been surprised by how Continental philosophy and psychoanalysis has managed to ignore biology and at times even reject it. It made no sense to me, and it clearly makes no sense to Johnston and Malabou, who embrace neurobiology and are enriched by it. Their book makes for valuable and often pleasurable reading.

Mark Solms

This book flows from the obvious conviction that a philosophy of subjectivity simply cannot ignore the body and must engage with today's biological sciences. The authors' conviction that the link between the subject and the body is best theorized in relation to affect is perhaps less obvious to some, but surely equally correct. It is no surprise, then, that their book touches on many of the deepest questions confronting the mental sciences of our time. It will provoke much disputation--even outrage--yet it focuses our attention on just the right questions.

Slavoj iek

While neuroscientists joyfully proclaim the death of philosophy and psychoanalysis, Self and Emotional Life enacts the necessary countermove. It conclusively demonstrates, from a strict materialist standpoint, how brain sciences cannot account for the unconscious processes discovered by Freud and how they remain entangled in a cobweb of their own philosophical presuppositions. The book's subtitle could have been 'prolegomena to any future relationship between philosophy, psychoanalysis, and neurosciences'--which is why it should be read by everyone in these fields.

Notre Dame Philosophical Review - John Protevi

a major contribution to the important materialist turn in continental philosophy.

Irish Left Review

... Postulating common ground between [neuroscience, psychoanalysis, and philosophy], and a language for mutual understanding, is the uncommon achievement of Johnston's and Malabou's book.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231535182
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
05/14/2013
Series:
Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
17 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

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What People are saying about this

Antonio Damasio

I have often been surprised by how continental philosophy and psychoanalysis managed to ignore biology and at times even reject it. It made no sense to me, and it clearly makes no sense to Catherine Malabou and Adrian Johnston, philosophers and psychoanalysts, who embrace neurobiology and are enriched by it. Their essays make for valuable and often pleasurable reading.

Mark Solms

This book flows from the obvious conviction that a philosophy of subjectivity simply cannot ignore the body, and therefore simply must engage with today's biological sciences. The authors' conviction that the link between the subject and the body is best theorized in relation to affect is perhaps less obvious to some — but surely equally correct. It is no surprise, then, that their book touches on many of the deepest questions confronting the mental sciences of our time. It will provoke much disputation — even outrage — but it focuses our attention on just the right questions.

Slavoj Žižek

While neuroscientists joyfully proclaim the death of philosophy and psychoanalysis, Johnston's and Malabou's Self and Emotional Life enacts the necessary counter-move. It conclusively demonstrates, from a strict materialist standpoint, how brain sciences cannot account for the unconscious processes discovered by Freud, and how they remain entangled in a cobweb of their own philosophical presuppositions. The book's subtitle could have been "Prolegomena to any future relationship between philosophy, psychoanalysis, and neurosciences" — which is why it should be read by everyone in these fields.

Slavoj iek

While neuroscientists joyfully proclaim the death of philosophy and psychoanalysis, Johnston's and Malabou's Self and Emotional Life enacts the necessary counter-move. It conclusively demonstrates, from a strict materialist standpoint, how brain sciences cannot account for the unconscious processes discovered by Freud, and how they remain entangled in a cobweb of their own philosophical presuppositions. The book's subtitle could have been "Prolegomena to any future relationship between philosophy, psychoanalysis, and neurosciences" -- which is why it should be read by everyone in these fields.

Tracy McNulty

Self and Emotional Life is a timely and wholly original intervention into one of the most debated questions of recent years: the place of the affects in psychoanalytic, neuroscientific, and philosophical accounts of the subject. It is doubly valuable in being authored by two scholars of the stature of Adrian Johnston and Catherine Malabou, philosophers whose range and depth of erudition in recent and emerging scholarship in the neurosciences (especially work on the 'emotional brain') and in clinical psychoanalysis seem to be without peer among scholars working at this intersection today.

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