Eugenio Díaz – The Neurosciences, a Policy to Reduce the Subject to a “Probabilistic Automaton”


The neuroscientific reports (1) claim to provide a thorough synthesis of the biological factors that cause human problems and find solutions to them, but a closer reading will reveal a whole policy of civilization that wants to reduce, if not eliminate, all traces of subjectivity.

This problem-solution logic, along with the neuro-subject equivalence, has effects of stigmatization, irresponsibility and consequently segregation (sometimes the most radical) (2) and ferocious indoctrination.

So “…from the reductionist perspective,” doctor and biophysicist Javier Peteiro indicates, “there is a serious risk of avoiding the authentic question of human liberty and responsibility and the role that plays the configuration of an education characterized by the behaviorist ideal.”(3)

Not a day goes by that there is not news in the media and the social networks about the supposed discovery of such and such gene or neural connection that causes some behavior or affects, from drug use to love, obesity, sadness or “intense joy”. In a naïve (but by no means innocuous) correspondence, that some epistemologists and geneticists have denied, that turns the smallest subjective discontent into a syndrome or disorder with neurobiological bases or causes, thus reducing the human being to a “probabilistic automaton”. A being whose mental states are functionally isomorphic to a Turing Machine table, as a way of governing any behavior.

Then, the term neurosciences is not at all innocent of the intent of techno science and its ally, the market – “which psychology not only supply but is deferential to its studies” – (4) to eliminate everything that is not controllable: drive, desire, unconscious and jouissance. Keeping the subject in the dark regarding to its understanding of the world (of jouissance). Or even more seeking to “incessantly produce such darkness”, (5) therefore without reflection, or possible action on its jouissance.

Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, does not regress in its commitment to the writing of the unconscious that cannot be reduced to any brain and that allows the parlêtre a place own in the world – from the irreducible of its symptom, which is an index of its jouissance – and in it the possibility of a social bond.

Translated by: Alejandro Betancur Vélez

Reviewed by Lorena Hojman Davis

  1. See, for exemple, the report by the WHO: Neuroscience of psychoactive substance use and dependence, Washington, D.C: OPS, 2005 and a critical review of the same, E. Díaz, “Neurociencias del consumo y dependencia de sustancias psicoadictivas”, Freudiana 43, 2005, págs.57-62.
  2. J.-C. Milner, Les penchants criminels de l’Europe démocratique”, Verdier, 2003.
  3. J. Peteiro, El autoritarismo científico, Miguel Gómez ed., Málaga, 2011.
  4. J. Lacan, “Posición del inconsciente” (1964), en Escritos II, Siglo XXI, 1984, p. 811.
  5. G. Anders; Nosotros los hijos de Eichmann, (1988), Paidós, 2001, p. 29.
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