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What should we do with our brain? / Catherine Malabou ; foreword by Marc Jeannerod ; translated by Sebastian Rand.

  • Malabou, Catherine
  • Books

About this work

Also known as

Que faire de notre cerveau? English


From the publisher. Recent neuroscience, in replacing the old model of the brain as a single centralized source of control, has emphasized "plasticity," the quality by which our brains develop and change throughout the course of our lives. Our brains exist as historical products, developing in interaction with themselves and with their surroundings. Hence there is a thin line between the organization of the nervous system and the political and social organization that both conditions and is conditioned by human experience. Looking carefully at contemporary neuroscience, it is hard not to notice that the new way of talking about the brain mirrors the management discourse of the neo-liberal capitalist world in which we now live, with its talk of decentralization, networks, and flexibility. Consciously or unconsciously, science cannot but echo the world in which it takes place. In the neo-liberal world, "plasticity" can be equated with "flexibility"-a term that has become a buzzword in economics and management theory. The plastic brain would thus represent just another style of power, which, although less centralized, is still a means of control. In this book, Catherine Malabou develops a second, more radical meaning for plasticity. Not only does plasticity allow our brains to adapt to existing circumstances, it opens a margin of freedom to intervene, to change those very circumstances. Such an understanding opens up a newly transformative aspect of the neurosciences. In insisting on this proximity between the neurosciences and the social sciences, Malabou applies to the brain Marx's well-known phrase about history: people make their own brains, but they do not know it.This book is a summons to such knowledge.


New York : Fordham University Press, 2008.

Physical description

xv, 94 pages ; 21 cm.


First edition.


First published in French by Bayard, 2004.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 83-94).


Introduction: Plasticity and Flexibility-For a Consciousness of the Brain -- 1. Plasticities Fields of Action: Between Determination and Freedom -- The Three Plasticities -- Are We Free to Be High Performing? -- 2. The Central Power in Crisis -- The End of the "Machine Brain" -- Neuronal Man and the Spirit of Capitalism -- Social "Disaffiliation" and Nervous Depression: The New Forms of Exclusion -- 3. "You Are Your Synapses" -- The "Synaptic Self" or "Proto-Self" -- Lost in Translation: From the Neuronal to the Mental -- Another Plasticity -- Conclusion: Toward a Biological Alter-Globalism.

Language note

Text in English, translated from French.


  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    Medical Collection
    WL337 2008M23w
    Open shelves

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  • 082322953X
  • 9780823229536