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The Last Metanarratives: Cognitivism, Neuroscience and Subjectivity in the Works of Richard Powers and Slavoj Žižek

The Last Metanarratives: Cognitivism, Neuroscience and Subjectivity in the Works of Richard... RichaRd haRdack The Last Metanarratives Cognitivism, Neuroscience and Subjectivity in the Works of Richard Powers and Slavoj Žižek In this article, I contrast humanist and cognitivist discourses, and argue that when humanists distance themselves from metanarratives, cognitivists will effectively commandeer the terrain and claim that one cannot contest cognitivist discourse at all. Since cognitivist science has eclipsed and undermined the humanities in terms of cultural capital and funding, it is important to examine how humanists— in this case, an emblematic critical theorist, Slavoj Žižek, and a novelist, Richard Powers—have responded to its implications. The recurring question is whether philosophy or science has become dominant not just epistemologically, but onto- logically; one of Žižek’s primary tenets is that “the human being reduced to an object of technological manipulation is no longer properly human” (Žižek, Ev ent 29). But Žižek also a priori concludes material factors cannot wholly account for human behavior, communication or identity. Žižek attempts to bolster the rele- vance and import of the humanities by asserting its priority and, sometimes oddly, its conservative credentials: “philosophy is in a way more critical, more cautious even, than science. Philosophy asks even more elementary questions” (Žižek,- Con versations 25). Even as http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

The Last Metanarratives: Cognitivism, Neuroscience and Subjectivity in the Works of Richard Powers and Slavoj Žižek

The Comparatist , Volume 45 – Nov 11, 2021

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Copyright © Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

RichaRd haRdack The Last Metanarratives Cognitivism, Neuroscience and Subjectivity in the Works of Richard Powers and Slavoj Žižek In this article, I contrast humanist and cognitivist discourses, and argue that when humanists distance themselves from metanarratives, cognitivists will effectively commandeer the terrain and claim that one cannot contest cognitivist discourse at all. Since cognitivist science has eclipsed and undermined the humanities in terms of cultural capital and funding, it is important to examine how humanists— in this case, an emblematic critical theorist, Slavoj Žižek, and a novelist, Richard Powers—have responded to its implications. The recurring question is whether philosophy or science has become dominant not just epistemologically, but onto- logically; one of Žižek’s primary tenets is that “the human being reduced to an object of technological manipulation is no longer properly human” (Žižek, Ev ent 29). But Žižek also a priori concludes material factors cannot wholly account for human behavior, communication or identity. Žižek attempts to bolster the rele- vance and import of the humanities by asserting its priority and, sometimes oddly, its conservative credentials: “philosophy is in a way more critical, more cautious even, than science. Philosophy asks even more elementary questions” (Žižek,- Con versations 25). Even as

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 11, 2021

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