The brain as an instrument: Comment on Gergen’s “The acculturated brain”

Maarten Derksen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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In “The acculturated brain,” his critical analysis of the current brain hype, Kenneth Gergen concludes that we should consider the brain primarily as an instrument for achieving culturally constructed ends, and challenge the determining power of the brain with the question “Could I do otherwise?” In my reply, I point out that the pressing issue is usually “How could I do otherwise?,” not sorting out determined behavior from culturally constructed action. The challenge is to understand the increasing traffic between brain and culture, rather than to keep mechanism and meaning separate. Secondly, the notion of the brain as an instrument needs to be developed in the light of technology studies, in order to avoid both neuro-reductionism and the instrumentalism implied in Gergen’s proposal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-845
Number of pages6
JournalTheory & Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2011


  • brain
  • instrumentalism
  • neuro-reductionism
  • technology

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