Ghastly marionettes and the political metaphysics of cognitive liberalism: Anti-behaviourism, language, and the origins of totalitarianism. History of the Human Sciences. 2020;33(1):147-174.
Winner of the 2020 Early Career Prize
In this essay, I argue that the triumph of cognitivism over behaviorism as psychology's hegemonic theory of mind was caused by what I term "cognitive liberalism," a style of early Cold War political philosophy that located human freedom in the spontaneous capacities of cognition and, specifically, of language. By reading Hannah Arendt's discussion of "totalitarianism" as a behaviorist laboratory, I show that it was no accident that the field on which behaviorism would fail, cybernetics would falter, and cognitivism would triumph would be that of language. The essay connects the cognitive turn with cognate anti-mechanist movements in vitalist biology and antecedents in early 20th century resistance to scientific management to unpack the politics of spontaneity in early Cold War theories of freedom.
L'excès à l'avant-garde de la "data subject": langage et quantification en psychiatrie numérique (Excess in the avant-garde of the data subject: Language and quantification in digital psychiatry). Terrain. 2021, forthcoming.
Copies available in English translation on request