The Social Brain: Sociological Foundations introduces the concept of the social brain, including a detailed conceptual model of the social brain networked in the world. The idea that our brains are social has its roots in nineteenth-century social thought and primate research initiated in the 1950s. It was introduced into the neuroscience literature in 1990 as a challenge to the traditional view of the isolated bio-medical brain, a view that still dominates the scientific, media, and public imaginations. Sal Restivo’s foundational thesis is that humans arrive on the evolutionary stage always, already, and everywhere social. We have social selves, social brains, and social genes. He argues the “I” is a grammatical illusion reflecting the myth of individualism. The unique feature of this book is the amount of space devoted to constructing the sociological scaffolding needed to understand what the author means by the social self, the social mind, and the social brain. The approach leads to new ways of thinking about socialization, consciousness, and creativity as networked phenomena. The result is a novel way of integrating the social self, the biological self, and the neurological self and erasing the classical boundaries between brain, mind, and body.
Sal Restivo is a retired sociologist/anthropologist, a founding member and former president of the Society for Social Studies of Science, and the editor-in-chief of Oxford’s Science, Technology, and Society: An Encyclopedia (2005).
List of Figures
Preface: Caveat Emptor
Chapter 1. The Sociological Imagination
Chapter 2. Sociology Comes into View
Chapter 3. Evolution Invents the Social
Chapter 4. Individual and Society
Chapter 5. The Social Body in Society and Politics
Chapter 6. Genius Incorporated
Chapter 7. Improvisation Incorporated
Chapter 8. From The Matrix to Reality: Are We Brains in Vats, Simulations, or Brains in the World?
Chapter 9. Robots, AI, Brains, and Bodies in the Information Age
Chapter 10. The Sociology of Consciousness
Chapter 11. The Social Life of the Brain
Chapter 12. The Social Brain in Health and Illness
Chapter 13. Final Considerations: Brain, Society, and Sociology
About the Author
"Like an entertaining teacher engaging students in a seminar, drawing widely on his knowledge of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, literature, and recent research on the brain, Sal Restivo builds the case that a person's self cannot be fully understood by studying the functioning of the brain alone. In one fascinating chapter, he illustrates how his theory of the social self can explain the evolution of the elements of John Coltrane’s style of jazz improvisation over the course of his career. To Restivo, Coltrane’s social self as a musician was an open evolving system, the product of an historically evolving social network within the context of the jazz subculture. Restivo's theory has wide implications for contemporary sociological theorizing about the self."