Plastic brains and the dialectics of dialectics

Loxley, Andrew, Murphy, Colette and Seery, Aidan (2013) Plastic brains and the dialectics of dialectics. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 9 (3). pp. 575-581. ISSN 1871-1502, 1871-1510


This article advances the thinking of Lima, Ostermann and Rezende’s “Marxism in Vygotskian approaches to cultural studies of science education” and Mark Zuss’ response to their paper. Firstly, it introduces Catherine Malabou’s concept of plasticity, from which Hegel’s dialectic can be re-read as historical materialist self-determination in a way that embraces science but non-reductively, and which leads to the possibility of challenging theoretical rigidity as a form of transformative action. Secondly, this response article provides political analysis of scientific concepts as they reproduce and reinforce particular interests and are expropriated by policy makers and unaware teacher educators whose understanding lies within a technical-instrumentalism and diluted humanism framework. Both arguments feature the human brain as an object of research in science education. From Malabou, the emancipatory conceptualisation of the brain as material, historical and sociocultural; whilst ‘Brain Gym’ exemplifies a non-science and nonsensical misappropriation of scientific concepts for commercial gain via a para-educational intervention.

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