22 May 2012

N. B. Why the Environmental Movement and Neurohistory?

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring treated the organism as normal and natural. Throughout human history, the environment was taken to be constant and therefore also "normal". Environmental change was gradual. And then something happened: humans began to change the earth's environment in radical ways. The Enlightenment saw emergent human migrations, mercantile economics, proto-capitalism turning into capitalism, and proto-industrialization becoming full scale industrialization. Putting it perhaps too dramatically humans began making their environment unnatural and therefore it threatened the human ability to adapt to environmental changes.

One can see here the makings of an argument for neurohistory; presumably putative environmental changes altered brains. Human brains became maladapted from their "natural" adaptations. Maladaption occurred quickly. Theo Colborn et al's Our Stolen Future (link here) comes to mind as a sequel to such arguments; their neuroendocrine analysis makes a strong case for raising concerns about heavy metals and other toxins and human health.

From a distance, then, we begin to see a convergence between neurohistory and the environmental movement. Does the environmental movement really need the brain? Or is this yet another way in which neuroculture spreads?

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