BIOPOLITICS, NEUROPHYSIOLOGY, AND EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY
By Alexander Oleskin
Recent discoveries in the life sciences have had implications that affect political philosophy, political science, and practical policy. The diverse aspects of these interactions have been incorporated into a broad interdisciplinary field of research, referred to as biopolitics. Despite the diversity of interpretations of this term suggested by various scholars, special emphasis should be placed on the area of research that deals with the evolutionary factors of human political behavior. This area is one of the central – and most controversial – subfields of biopolitics. Since behavior is controlled by the nervous system, this biopolitical subfield is closely related to neurophysiology, particularly if viewed from the evolutionary viewpoint. Neurophysiology, in turn, has important implications for psychology. Of particular interest in this context is the sub-discipline “evolutionary psychology”. In this article, special attention will be given to several fascinating areas of research that implicate biopolitical, neurophysiological, and psychological concepts:
· The multilevel structure of the brain where different layers correspond to different stages of evolution; the deviant behavior of individuals (i.e. criminals, suicidal terrorists, etc.) and whole groups or crowds that can, under certain circumstances, be controlled by the archaic layers of the brain
· The impact of neurochemicals (neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, and neurohormones) on the activities of various brain structures and modules and, accordingly, on various aspects of the human psyche, social behavior, and political participation
· The influence of microorganisms that inhabit the intestines, the skin, the vagina, and other parts of the human organism and modify the wellness, psychological state, and political activities of humans in society
· Ethological (biobehavioral) approaches to psychiatry as related to politics
· Interrelationships between the hierarchical (consecutive) and network (parallel) modes of action of the brain in relation to the hierarchy-network dichotomy in sociology and political science (including the debate over the advantages and disadvantages of hierarchical and networked organizations).