Neuro, Chapter 5
“Perhaps arguments from neuroscience are merely being invoked to give such proposals a sheen of objectivity—for they are often criticized as arising from hopes rather than facts.” (Rose & Abi-Rached, 162)
Every time science attempts to locate a neurological basis of some social phenomena, there’s a concretization of importance: social values are substantiated as biological inevitabilities. This process of naturalization frequently serves the dominant order, as it reifies and concretizes traditional value systems.
Example: competition is a necessity within capitalism. Systems of competition are justified within Darwinian evolutionary science, leading proponents of capitalism to say, “Look, we can’t help but compete. It’s in our genes.” Repeat justifications of the social order through science ad infinitum.
Within science, the greatest disagreements arise over findings that disrupt the social order.
The scientific community has been squabbling about the existence of mirror neurons, and I wonder if they’re proving to be so controversial because they naturalize social values like empathy, reciprocity, and connectedness. Science is giving us a neurological impetus to be nice to each other—an incentive that throws a few wrenches in the cogs of modern living.