Notes from 11/22/2011 Meeting of The Neurosciences and the Humanities Working Group at Kent State

At the November 22, 2011 meeting of the Kent State University Neurosciences and the Humanities Workgroup, we discussed:

Jack, Jordynn. “What are Neurorhetorics?” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 40.5: 411-437.

Jack, Jordynn and L. Gregory Appelbaum. “‘This is Your Brain on Rhetoric’: Research Directions for Neurorhetorics.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 40.5: 411-437.

Neurorhetorics yields two perspectives > rhetorics of neuroscience and the neuroscience of rhetoric

brain imaging books > popularlizations by non-specialists in conjunction with specialists > Picturing Personhood

imaging > representations > metaphors

Kelly Joyce – book on brain imaging

science and technology studies

go in with cultural critique

contested methodologies, unacknowledged cultural assumptions filtering into the scientific domain

this is what we are trained to do

Isaac Asimov’s son David, “man of leisure,” but could he have a mental disability? Asperger’s Syndrome?

rhetoric > not just analyzing it retrospectively > develop a pedagogy > teach why and how to do things critically

captivation in general of the brain

visual rhetoric – style, repetition, etc.

humanities > what we do matters, change people, now we can go beyond anecdotes and subjective experiences

ways of thinking, metacognition

John Medina – Brain Rules

Daniel Kahneman – Thinking Fast and Slow > economist > decision making > “Why Hawks Always Win” > cognitive studies vs. brain studies > decision making stuff is hot now

I talked about my Studying the Brain, Writing the Mind writing class at Kent State

music and cognition > relationship to language > music experience influences our use/formation of language > surgeons and scientists > more likely than other professions to be musicians

music and connection to emotional systems > is it quicker to the brain? > it seems that with language there are more systems involved > abstraction of language > emotion and music > where does it come from?

musicology and evolution

Denis Dutton – Art Instinct, talks about Schonenberg, wired for art > collaboration > Steven Pinker > Language Instinct, we are wired for language

Dutton discounts all early 20th century art > pleasure for tradition learned or tradition withheld

why would humans make art? sexual reproduction > attraction > instrumental reason: mating > what about today? what about dead artists?

Aristotle > everything is poetry to him > he doesn’t divide art into separate categories that we use today > all mimesis

creativity > interpretive issues > how do we interpret what culture that we encounter?

fuzzy logic > mathematics > engineering > approximations over precision > aperture control in digital cameras use this > discussion about the term “fuzzy”

(423) neural substrate (the set of brain structures that underlies a specific behavior or psychological state, from wikipedia), neural correlates (A neural correlate of a content of experience is any bodily component, such as an electro-neuro-biological state or the state assumed by somebiophysical subsystem of the brain, whose presence necessarily and regularly correlates with such a specific content of experience, from wikipedia).

Godel’s incompleteness theorem and language, open system, language breaks down all the time, expressing the ineffable

meaning in language is always deferred

Cavel > Wittgenstein > his quarrel with Derrida > must we mean what we say > contextual meaning of utterance [Derrida > no original meaning > deconstruction ad infinitum]

definitions are rhetorical constructions > how we deliberate meanings, how we define makes us lock heads

Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time > crosses YA, adult “boundaries” > autism > autistic character who cannot see things from other people’s perspectives > his parents also shown to be this way > telling a story, we can come to an insight that we can come to through rhetorical analysis, etc.

the other articles in this special issue of RSQ are not meta-neurorhetoric, they are doing neurorhetoric

for next time: philosophy of mind

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.