CFP: Science“ and „Control“ in the 21st century. Critical approaches towards techniques, technologies and “enhancements” of the mind

Submission deadline: January 31, 2014

Topic areas


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CFP: „Science“ and „Control“ in the 21st century. Critical approaches towards techniques, technologies and “enhancements” of the mind

Deadline for papers 30.1.2014

Original unpublished submissions must be up to 7.500 words (including footnotes), accompanied by a up to 150-word abstract and a brief  CV (up to 400 words) and prepared for blind review. The only acceptable language is English. Submissions must be in Word (doc/docx), and.pdf format.

Please sent submissions and questions with the following SUBJECT line: „SCICONTROL21 Paper 
Proposal [name]”

To both organizers:



1) Alexander Gerner, (PhD)

Post-Doc Researcher at the

Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon (CFCUL)

Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon

Campo Grande, Building C4

3rd floor; Room 4.3.20

1749-016 Lisbon



2) Sean A. Hays, PhD

Post-Doc Researcher at the

Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities

University of Bergen


 Selected papers will be published in an international peer reviewed special edition (Journal of Science and Philosophy “Kairos” in 2014) ed. by A. Gerner & S. Hayes


“I control a slave, a dog, a worker; but if I establish complete control somehow, as by implanting electrodes in the brain, then my subject is little more than a tape recorder, a camera, a robot. You don't control a tape recorder - you use it.”

William Burroughs. The Limits of Control

What is the real nature of control?”

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity´s Rainbow

„Science“ and „Control“ in the 21st century. Critical approaches towards techniques, technologies and “enhancements” of the mind questions the fundamental role the concept of control has in science in the 21st century, especially in the mind sciences. The importance of the concept of control in techniques and technologies seem obvious since the introduction of the science of cybernetics, in which a controller navigates by manipulating the inputs to a system to obtain the desired effect on the output of the system changing within a feedback loop, be it a machine or a living system (Von Neumann, Wiener, Shanon). In the beginning of the 21st century we seem far away from a science of self-governance as proposed in Plato’s Alchibiades influenced today by continually evolving information and communication technologies (ICTs) that seem to invade nearly every aspect of our contemporary human practices, political and social innovations, thus making explicit the importance of cybernetic issues of control. The classic enlightenment ideal how to apply science and technology to enable us to live a better or even an enhanced experience of life for the good of society, nowadays seems to change in direction to the following issue: How does science and technology give a few a better control/grip or more security of government at hand over the many in situations such as illnesses, accidents, war/aggression; political or financial crisis. The art of securing efficient and economic operations applied to all human endeavors poses the following questions:

- How can we control the (un-) desired “other”?

- Until which limit can or should science and technology help us control the unexpected, exclude the undesired, or control the other?

- How can we know that emerging technology give us a future control and success?

- On which level of complexity is “control” actually achievable?

-How are we able to gain consequence knowledge about future applications of mind technologies?

- Is the cybernetic control paradigm of the 20century actually desired or sufficient for scientific and technological innovations of the 21st century

- What is the relation of uncertainty and control in technologies and scientific “enhancements” in the 21century?

- What does „control“ mean in relation to different modes of cognitive/ affective mood or social enhancements?

- What consequence does an amplified and intensified cybernetic control concept have on the production of subjectivity, and its social, political legal consequences?

- Should we enhance artificial intelligence beyond human (intelligent) control?

- What should we expect from the relation of wisdom and control in the mind-sciences in the 21century?

- How does science and technology lead to control mechanisms that do/don´t empower self-autonomy or enhance the desired richness of our experience as by training (Sloterdik 2013) or are used as remote control mechanisms of ourselves, society (Burroughs/Deleuze), or even mankind, leading for instance to the “hyperproletarization” of the majority (Stiegler) rather than to an general  “enhanced” species?

- Should we intervene in a „controlled way“ in the course of “human” evolution by techno-scientific means as in using capacity enhancements (Savulescu/Meulen/Kahane 2011) in order to resolve the challenges of survival of human civilization in the centuries to come (Persson & Savulescu 2012).

In a pilot study in 2013 at the University of Washington in which the “direct communication“ of one brain to another is tested, the challenge was how the “brain of the other” can be controlled. In which sense are these inter-brain computational  “communication” studies (Rajesh/Rao 2013), not simply remote control studies that question fundamentally individual personhood, autonomy and justice? What is their military purpose? What about the usefulness of new (technoscientific) “monsters”(Burroughs) as remote controlled weapons (drones or killerrobots)?

 Anger (2010) paved the way for a critical philosophy of science approach towards the bioethical limits of a radical biological enhancement of mankind based on bioethical concerns about the unity of the human species and the question why we should reject „radical“ human enhancement, out of scientific reasons. We invite papers that reflect the relations between control and enhancement techniques/technologies and its political technology assessment on the level of individual and societal control in relation to (1) pharmakon/ pharmacological enhancements and control (e.g. Bernard Stiegler), in relation to (2) enhancement/military control and remote controlled cognition and within the realm of (3) medicine and „mind-control“ in relation to a variety of brain interventions (Müller/Clausen/Maio 2009) e.g optogenetics (Boyden) in relation to memory /forgetting (Liu 2012) and false memories (Ramirez 2013) and its „brain politics“ (Robert Blank 2013) of the “experimentum humanum” (Martin 2011). We intend to contribute as well to the debate about treatment/enhancement and how embodied enhancement techniques and technologies (direct brain techniques, brain-computer interfaces; pharmaceutical enhancements; methodological enhancements; Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality enhancements, remote controlled medicine) might change our concept of medicine in the 21st century (Chatterjee& Farah 2013; Lenk 2011).


Angar, N. (2010). Humanity´s End. Why we should reject Radical Enhancement. MIT Press

Blank, R. (2013). Interventions in the Brain. Politics, Policy and Ethics. MIT Press

Chatterjee, A. Farah, M. (2013). Neuoethics in Practice. Medicine, Mind and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Deleuze, G.(1992[1990])Postscript on the Societies of Control. In: October, Vol 59, 3-7

Hays, S. et al ( 2013). Nanotechnology, the Brain and the future. Springer

Lemmens, P. (2011). “This System does not produce anymore”. An Interview with Bernard Stiegler, Krisis Journal for Philosophy 2011, Issue 1 online:

Lenk, Ch. (2011). Enhancement vor dem Hintergrund verschiedener Konzepte von Gesundheit und Krankheit. Willy Viehöver, Peter Wehling (Eds.). Entgrenzung der Medizin. Von der Heilkunst zur Verbesserung des Menschen?. Bielefeld: transcript, 67-88

Li et al (2012). “Optogenetic Stimulation of a hippocampal engram activates fear memory recall. Nature 484, 381-385

Martins, H. (2011). Experimentum Humanum. Relógio d´Àgua. Lisboa

Müller, O.; Clausen, J, Maio, G. (Eds.)(2009). Das technisierte Gehirn. Neurotechnologien als Herausforderung für Ethik und Anthropologie. Padaborn: Mentis

Persson & Savulescu (Eds.) (2012). Unfit for the future. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Savulescu, J. Meulen, R. Kahane, G. (2011). Enhancing Human Capacities. Willey-Blackwell

Shannon, C.E. (1993). Collected Papers. Ed. by N.J.A. Slone, Aron D. Wyner: New York: IEEE Press

Sloterdijk, P. (2013{2009}). You must change your life. Polity Press

Stiegler, B. (2010). For a New Critique of Political Economy. Cambridge and Malden MA: Polity

Rajesh, Rao, N. (2013) Brain- Computer Interfacing. An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Ramirez, S. et al (2013). “Creating a False Memory in the Hippocampus” SCIENCE VOL 341 26 JULY 2013, 387-391

Wiener, N. (1954). The human use of human beings: Cybernetics and society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Wiener, N.(1965) Cybernetics, Second Edition: or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine

Von Neumann, J. (1948). The Computer and the Brain. New Haven and London: Yale University Press

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