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Neuroscience and the fallacies of functionalism.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Reddy, WM
Published in: History and theory
January 2010

Smail's "On Deep History and the Brain" is rightly critical of the functionalist fallacies that have plagued evolutionary theory, sociobiology, and evolutionary psychology. However, his attempt to improve on these efforts relies on functional explanations that themselves oversimplify the lessons of neuroscience. In addition, like explanations in evolutionary psychology, they are highly speculative and cannot be confirmed or disproved by evidence. Neuroscience research is too diverse to yield a single picture of brain functioning. Some recent developments in neuroscience research, however, do suggest that cognitive processing provides a kind of “operating system” that can support a great diversity of cultural material. These developments include evidence of “top-down” processing in motor control, in visual processing, in speech recognition, and in “emotion regulation.” The constraints that such a system may place on cultural learning and transmission are worth investigating. At the same time, historians are well advised to remain wary of the pitfalls of functionalism.

Duke Scholars

Published In

History and theory

DOI

ISSN

0018-2656

Publication Date

January 2010

Volume

49

Issue

3

Start / End Page

412 / 425

Related Subject Headings

  • Stress, Psychological
  • Research
  • Neurosciences
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Emotions
  • Culture
  • Cognitive Science
 

Citation

APA
Chicago
ICMJE
MLA
NLM
Reddy, W. M. (2010). Neuroscience and the fallacies of functionalism. History and Theory, 49(3), 412–425. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2303.2010.00551.x
Reddy, William M. “Neuroscience and the fallacies of functionalism.History and Theory 49, no. 3 (January 2010): 412–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2303.2010.00551.x.
Reddy WM. Neuroscience and the fallacies of functionalism. History and theory. 2010 Jan;49(3):412–25.
Reddy, William M. “Neuroscience and the fallacies of functionalism.History and Theory, vol. 49, no. 3, Jan. 2010, pp. 412–25. Epmc, doi:10.1111/j.1468-2303.2010.00551.x.
Reddy WM. Neuroscience and the fallacies of functionalism. History and theory. 2010 Jan;49(3):412–425.
Journal cover image

Published In

History and theory

DOI

ISSN

0018-2656

Publication Date

January 2010

Volume

49

Issue

3

Start / End Page

412 / 425

Related Subject Headings

  • Stress, Psychological
  • Research
  • Neurosciences
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Emotions
  • Culture
  • Cognitive Science