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The Elusive BrainLiterary Experiments in the Age of Neuroscience$
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Jason Tougaw

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300221176

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300221176.001.0001

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Before Neuromania

Before Neuromania

(p.39) 1 Before Neuromania
The Elusive Brain

Jason Tougaw

Yale University Press

Chapter 1 examines influential texts published during the 1990s, by Oliver Sacks, Kay Redfield Jamison, Temple Grandin, Richard Powers, and David Lodge. The argument of the chapter is that these writers had not yet coalesced into a school or tradition but that they shared a set of implicit assumptions. All of these texts emphasize the fundamental roles of physiology in the making of identity but suggest also that physiology is meaningful only in the personal, social, and political contexts of live experience. In addition, they represent their writers’ attempts to blur lines between C.P. Snow’s infamous “two cultures”—science vs. the humanities—by emphasizing the phenomenology of living with a brain. While these texts helped established a zeal for neuroscience that would later be termed neuromania by theorists critical of simplistic cultural responses to neuroscience, they also contained the seeds of more sophisticated approaches to understanding relations between brain, self, and culture.

Keywords:   Neuromania, Two cultures, Phenomenology, Physiology, Identity

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