Mind-body problems

Emily Martin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In this article, I lay out some of the cultural assumptions in recent accounts of mind and brain in neuroscience, in which it is argued that human social activities can be reduced to neural processes in the brain. Since the current dominance of these accounts in the United States threatens the work of social and cultural anthropology and other non-reductionist disciplines, I develop some ways the arguments of their critics can be bolstered with insights from anthropology. I ask what social features of the present context could be inciting this turn to a hyper-rational, neuronal account of human consciousness, and explore fear of the newly valued irrational energy (akin to mania) often required by contemporary entrepreneurial capitalism as a possible source. To counter the forms of individual subjectivity encouraged by neuroreductionism, I argue that ethnography could contribute to a form of subjectivity that renders individuals thinkable only as social beings.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)569-590
    Number of pages22
    JournalAmerican Ethnologist
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Aug 2000


    • Capitalism
    • Cognitive science
    • Language
    • Manic depression
    • Metaphor
    • Neuroscience
    • Stock market
    • United States

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology


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