Lancaster EPrints

Suspended Animation: Thinking and Animality in Neurocultural Selfhood

Mackenzie, Adrian (2008) Suspended Animation: Thinking and Animality in Neurocultural Selfhood. South Atlantic Quarterly, 107 (1). pp. 145-164. ISSN 0038-2876

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Abstract

This essay analyzes a genre of self-improvement literature based on scientific models of animal behavior and neurophysiology. Popular science books such as Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell, or Mind Wide Open: Why You Are What You Think, by Steven Johnson, and academic books such as Neuropolitics: Thinking, Culture, Speed, by William Connolly, argue that everyday thought or thinking includes animal behaviors and responses. These authors suggest that these behaviors and responses should become the object of managed self-awareness. Their broadened understandings of thought have dramatic implications for contemporary selfhood, sociality, and political life. This essay situates their understandings of animality, selfhood, and thinking through the work of Giorgio Agamben. Agamben's concept of the “anthropological machine” offers an alternative framing of the relation between human and animal and of any attempt to manage that relation. It suggests how this relation changes historically, generating instabilities in political and metaphysical formations, and why the collapsing of human-animal differences encounters obstacles. Drawing on Martin Heidegger's analysis of animals and boredom, Agamben's work implies a different way of thinking this relation. Thinking, for Agamben, is a form-of-life that lies close to animality.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: South Atlantic Quarterly
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
ID Code: 55235
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 20 Jun 2012 09:54
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2014 23:40
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/55235

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