Berlin, 8 Mar. Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism conference

February 26th, 2013

Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism

The power of abstraction and its antagonism. On some problems common to contemporary neurosciences and the theory of cognitive capitalism.

Abstract. The philosophical debate of the last years, at least at the latitudes of French and Italian theory, has been marked by a conceptual oscillation emphasising alternately immaterial labour or affective labour, knowledge economy or desire economy, the cognitive or the biopolitical. No research and political agenda has been immune from such an oscillation.  After a period focusing on cognitive capitalism, for instance, a new attention was given also to the affective dimension of economy (see the issue of affective labour). On the other hand, another trajectory followed Lazzarato in his expansion of the regime of biopolitics into noopolitics, that is biopower exercised over psychic life and mind technologies. In my contribution I will attempt to stop this oscillation and advocate for a monistic paradigm, where the opposition between body and mind, bios and noos may hopefully vanish — like it vanished in the works of Spinoza, Merleau-Ponty, Canguilhem, Foucault and also Deleuze and Guattari. I will show specifically how the work of German-Jewish neurologist Kurt Goldstein can be found behind Foucault’s intuition of biopower. The paradigm is here turned upside-down: it is in order to understand the body that we start again from the mind,  it is in order to understand bios that we start from noos. So the brain is taken as the first model and matrix of biopower, and going deeper and deeper… the living power of abstraction is disclosed as the forgotten core of the Foucauldian biopower. Disclosing the neurological roots of the notion of biopolitics will help to resolve these binaries and also to describe differently the so-called ‘psychopathologies’ of cognitive capitalism. These issues will be discussed returning also to the discovery of mirror neurons by Gallese and to the neuropedagogy recently advocated by Metzinger.

Full text can be found → here
An Italian version of my talk can be found on → Uninomade.


Time: 8 March 2013, 5:30 pm
Venue: ICI Berlin
Full program: →


An international array of philosophers, critical theorists, media theorists, art historians, architects, and artists will discuss the state of the mind and brain under the conditions of contemporary capitalism, in which these cognitive apparati have become the new focus of labouring. Like its predecessor “The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism: Part 1“, this conference will investigate how the conditions of Semiocapitalism and Cognitive Capitalism have transformed the conditions of labour – specifically the fact that so much contemporary labour is immaterial, affective, and cognitive – and as a result detourned the role of emancipatory politics, art/architecture and education today. Might these new conditions also have lasting material ramifications for the brain and mind?

This conference elaborates upon many of the questions left unattended in Part 1. Questions such as: What is the future of mind in Cognitive Capitalism? Can a term such as Plastic Materialism describe the substantive changes in neural architectures instigated by this contingent cultural habitus? Is there such a thing as Cognitive Communism? Is designed space an agent or platform in the production of subjectivity and is parametrics complicit with its devices? How does artistic research create new emancipatory possibilities in opposition to the overwhelming instrumentalization of the general intellect in Semiocapitalism?

Participating contributors: Ina Blum, Yann Moulier Boutang, Arne De Boever, Pascal Gielen, Deborah Hauptmann, Tom Holert, Sanford Kwinter, Maurizio Lazzarato, Abdul Karim Mustapha, Matteo Pasquinelli, Alexei Penzin, Sarah Rifky, John Roberts, Kerstin Stakemeier, Hito Steyerl, Liss C. Werner, Charles Wolfe. Hosted by Warren Neidich, TU Delft School of Architecture, the ICI Berlin, Villa Aurora, Berlin, and The Office of Artistic Occupation, Los Angeles.

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