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Maurizio Meloni
Deakin University
  1. Impressionable Biologies.Maurizio Meloni - 2019 - New York, USA: Routledge.
    Chapter 1st of the book. This chapter explores the fundamental ambiguity of the concept of plasticity – between openness and determination, change and stabilization of forms. This pluralism of meanings is used to unpack different instantiations of corporeal plasticity across various epochs, starting from ancient and early modern medicine, particularly humouralism. A genealogical approach displaces the notion that plasticity is a unitary phenomenon, coming in the abstract, and illuminates the unequal distribution of different forms of plasticities across social, gender, and (...)
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  2. How Biology Became Social and What It Means for Social Theory.Maurizio Meloni - 2014 - The Sociological Review 62:593-614.
    In this paper I first offer a systematic outline of a series of conceptual novelties in the life-sciences that have favoured, over the last three decades, the emergence of a more social view of biology. I focus in particular on three areas of investigation: (1) technical changes in evolutionary literature that have provoked a rethinking of the possibility of altruism, morality and prosocial behaviours in evolution; (2) changes in neuroscience, from an understanding of the brain as an isolated data processor (...)
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  3.  42
    The Social Brain Meets the Reactive Genome: Neuroscience, Epigenetics and the New Social Biology.Maurizio Meloni - 2014 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8.
    The rise of molecular epigenetics over the last few years promises to bring the discourse about the sociality and susceptibility to environmental influences of the brain to an entirely new level. Epigenetics deals with molecular mechanisms such as gene expression, which may embed in the organism “memories” of social experiences and environmental exposures. These changes in gene expression may be transmitted across generations without changes in the DNA sequence. Epigenetics is the most advanced example of the new postgenomic and context-dependent (...)
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  4.  45
    Disentangling Life: Darwin, Selectionism, and the Postgenomic Return of the Environment.Maurizio Meloni - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 62:10-19.
    In this paper, I analyze the disruptive impact of Darwinian selectionism for the century-long tradition in which the environment had a direct causative role in shaping an organism’s traits. In the case of humans, the surrounding environment often determined not only the physical, but also the mental and moral features of individuals and whole populations. With its apparatus of indirect effects, random variations, and a much less harmonious view of nature and adaptation, Darwinian selectionism severed the deep imbrication of organism (...)
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  5.  37
    Moralizing Biology: The Appeal and Limits of the New Compassionate View of Nature.Maurizio Meloni - 2013 - History of the Human Sciences 26 (3):82-106.
    In recent years, a proliferation of books about empathy, cooperation and pro-social behaviours (Brooks, 2011a) has significantly influenced the discourse of the life-sciences and reversed consolidated views of nature as a place only for competition and aggression. In this article I describe the recent contribution of three disciplines – moral psychology (Jonathan Haidt), primatology (Frans de Waal) and the neuroscience of morality – to the present transformation of biology and evolution into direct sources of moral phenomena, a process here named (...)
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  6.  62
    Porous Bodies: Environmental Biopower and the Politics of Life in Ancient Rome.Maurizio Meloni - 2021 - Theory, Culture and Society 38 (3):91-115.
    The case for an unprecedented penetration of life mechanisms into the politics of Western modernity has been a cornerstone of 20th-century social theory. Working with and beyond Foucault, this article challenges established views about the history of biopower by focusing on ancient medical writings and practices of corporeal permeability. Through an analysis of three Roman institutions: a) bathing; b) urban architecture; and c) the military, it shows that technologies aimed at fostering and regulating life did exist in classical antiquity at (...)
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  7.  51
    Thinking Embodiment with Genetics: Epigenetics and Postgenomic Biology in Embodied Cognition and Enactivism.Maurizio Meloni & Jack Reynolds - forthcoming - Synthese:1-24.
    The role of the body in cognition is acknowledged across a variety of disciplines, even if the precise nature and scope of that contribution remain contentious. As a result, most philosophers working on embodiment—e.g. those in embodied cognition, enactivism, and ‘4e’ cognition—interact with the life sciences as part of their interdisciplinary agenda. Despite this, a detailed engagement with emerging findings in epigenetics and post-genomic biology has been missing from proponents of this embodied turn. Surveying this research provides an opportunity to (...)
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  8.  32
    The Politics of Environments Before the Environment: Biopolitics in the Longue Durée.Maurizio Meloni - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A.
    Our understanding of body–world relations is caught in a curious contradiction. On one side, it is well established that many concepts that describe interaction with the outer world – ‘plasticity’ or ‘metabolism’- or external influences on the body - ‘environment’ or ‘milieu’ – appeared with the rise of modern science. On the other side, although premodern science lacked a unifying term for it, an anxious attentiveness to the power of ‘environmental factors’ in shaping physical and moral traits held sway in (...)
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