A Neurophilosophy of global trans-cultural understanding

Philosophy of culture has a long history of reifying culture(s) in opposition to nature. This goes a long way back to the Greek Sophists. Hippias, one of the most famous representatives of the Sophist movement described human institutions and customs as forcing us to go against nature. The Cynics further emphasized this divide and longed for a return to the simplicity of primitive existence.

The relationship between ‘culture’ and ‘natural’ was complicated, of course, much more especially by the rise of nationalistic literature in the 19th century (and notably by German romanticists such as A. Muller) and by the ascent of anthropology as a distinct discipline. Furthermore, some of the extreme ideologies of the 20th century pushed the analogy between cultural evolution and biological evolution to abhorrent and radical levels – this made it very difficult for any arguments rooted in bio-sciences to be accepted in the field of political philosophy for a long time. “Anti-naturalistic thought” prevailed for several decades after WWII, until around the mid 1970s, when new disciplines emerged which contributed to the shift to more interdisciplinary dialogue. Molecular biology, behavioral genetics and neurocognitive sciences were prominent contributors to this biological turn. The “biophobia” that previously created a rigid division between sociology and biological sciences gave way for more favorable exchanges. At the same time, the efforts to conceptualize what it meant to be human started to undergo a transformation as well. Again, as a result of inputs from neuroscience.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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