Article ID: CBB001251568

The Social Brain and the Myth of Empathy (2012)


Young, Allan (Author)

Science in Context
Volume: 25, no. 3
Issue: 3
Pages: 401-424

Publication Date: 2012
Edition Details: Part of the special issue, “The Varieties of Empathy in Science, Art, and History”
Language: English

Neuroscience research has created multiple versions of the human brain. The social brain is one version and it is the subject of this paper. Most image-based research in the field of social neuroscience is task-driven: the brain is asked to respond to a cognitive (perceptual) stimulus. The tasks are derived from theories, operational models, and back-stories now circulating in social neuroscience. The social brain comes with a distinctive back-story, an evolutionary history organized around three, interconnected themes: mind-reading, empathy, and the emergence of self-consciousness. This paper focuses on how empathy has been incorporated into the social brain and redefined via parallel research streams, employing a shared, imaging technology. The concluding section describes how these developments can be understood as signaling the emergence of a new version of human nature and the unconscious. My argument is not that empathy in the social brain is a myth, but rather that it is served by a myth consonant with the canons of science.

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Article Lanzoni, Susan (2012) Introduction: Emotion and the Sciences: Varieties of Empathy in Science, Art, and History. Science in Context (pp. 287-300). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Globus, Gordon G.
Gierer, Alfred
Clark, Andy
Füredi, Frank
Olby, Robert C.
Kandel, Eric R
Science in Context
Journal of the History of Biology
Science and Education
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Oxford University Press
John Benjamins Pub. Co.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Random House
University of Chicago Press
Philosophy of mind
Emotions; passions
Heidegger, Martin
Crick, Francis
Freud, Sigmund
Schnitzel, Arthur
Münsterberg, Hugo
Bunge, Mario
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
20th century, early
19th century
17th century
Vienna (Austria)

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