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The iconographic brain. A critical philosophical inquiry into (the resistance of) the image

De Vos, Jan ORCID: 2014. The iconographic brain. A critical philosophical inquiry into (the resistance of) the image. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8 , 300. 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00300

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The brain image plays a central role in contemporary image culture and, in turn, (co)constructs contemporary forms of subjectivity. The central aim of this paper is to probe the unmistakably potent interpellative power of brain images by delving into the power of imaging and the power of the image itself. This is not without relevance for the neurosciences, inasmuch as these do not take place in a vacuum; hence the importance of inquiring into the status of the image within scientific culture and science itself. I will mount a critical philosophical investigation of the brain qua image, focusing on the issue of mapping the mental onto the brain and how, in turn, the brain image plays a pivotal role in processes of subjectivation. Hereto, I draw upon Science & Technology Studies, juxtaposed with culture and ideology critique and theories of image culture. The first section sets out from Althusser's concept of interpellation, linking ideology to subjectivity. Doing so allows to spell out the central question of the paper: what could serve as the basis for a critical approach, or, where can a locus of resistance be found? In the second section, drawing predominantly on Baudrillard, I delve into the dimension of virtuality as this is opened up by brain image culture. This leads to the question of whether the digital brain must be opposed to old analog psychology: is it the psyche which resists? This issue is taken up in the third section which, ultimately, concludes that the psychological is not the requisite locus of resistance. The fourth section proceeds to delineate how the brain image is constructed from what I call the data-gaze (the claim that brain data are always already visual). In the final section, I discuss how an engagement with theories of iconology affords a critical understanding of the interpellative force of the brain image, which culminates in the somewhat unexpected claim that the sought after resistance lies in the very status of the image itself.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Additional Information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice.
Publisher: Frontiers
ISSN: 1662-5161
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 23 April 2014
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 03:44

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