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.

Included in

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

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Pelaprat, Etienne; Hartouni, Valerie; (2011)
The Neural Subject in Popular Culture and the End of Life (/isis/citation/CBB001252271/)

Article Gallagher, Shaun; (2012)
Empathy, Simulation, and Narrative (/isis/citation/CBB001251566/)

Article Brain, Robert Michael; (2012)
Self-Projection: Hugo Münsterberg on Empathy and Oscillation in Cinema Spectatorship (/isis/citation/CBB001251565/)

Article Curtis, Robin; (2012)
Einfühlung and Abstraction in the Moving Image: Historical and Contemporary Reflections (/isis/citation/CBB001251569/)

Article Virues-Ortega, Javier; Hurtado-Parrado, Camilo; Martin, Toby L.; Julio, Flávia; (2012)
Psycho-neural Identity as the Basis for Empirical Research and Theorization in Psychology: An Interview with Mario A. Bunge (/isis/citation/CBB001252233/)

Book Susan Lanzoni; (2018)
Empathy: A History (/isis/citation/CBB756539201/)

Article Richard Leblanc; (2019)
The White Paper: Wilder Penfield, the Stream of Consciousness, and the Physiology of Mind (/isis/citation/CBB650149989/)

Book Thomas W. Polger; Lawrence A. Shapiro; (2016)
The Multiple Realization Book (/isis/citation/CBB840684441/)

Chapter Gierer, Alfred; (2003)
Brain, mind, and limitations of a scientific theory of human consciousness (/isis/citation/CBB000410020/)

Book Michael Tye; (2016)
Tense Bees and Shell-Shocked Crabs: Are Animals Conscious? (/isis/citation/CBB386080684/)

Book Sherry Turkle; (2021)
The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir (/isis/citation/CBB987906768/)

Book Olby, Robert; (2009)
Francis Crick: Hunter of Life's Secrets (/isis/citation/CBB001021210/)

Thesis Wald, Stephen E.; (2008)
Minds Divided: Science, Spirituality, and the Split Brain in American Thought (/isis/citation/CBB001561399/)

Book Winter, Alison; (2012)
Memory: Fragments of a Modern History (/isis/citation/CBB001251122/)

Book Füredi, Frank; (2004)
Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age (/isis/citation/CBB000701273/)

Book Clark, Andy; (2003)
Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence (/isis/citation/CBB000502552/)

Article Harman, Oren; (2012)
Is the Naturalistic Fallacy Dead (and If So, Ought It Be?) (/isis/citation/CBB001250831/)

Authors & Contributors
Polger, Thomas W.
Leblanc, Richard
Tye, Michael
Salvat, Andrei
Winter, Alison
Wald, Stephen E.
Science in Context
Science and Education
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Journal of the History of Biology
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Oxford University Press
Penguin Press
University of Wisconsin at Madison
California Institute of Integral Studies
Yale University Press
University of Chicago Press
Philosophy of mind
Emotions; passions
Turkle, Sherry
Schnitzel, Arthur
Penfield, Wilder Graves
Münsterberg, Hugo
Heidegger, Martin
Freud, Sigmund
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
20th century, early
19th century
United States
Vienna (Austria)

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment